Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Abstraction Of Truth

A Devotion By Dan Guinn

As we look around, we can see some good in the world. Yet if we are really watching and listening, there is also a whole lot of hurt. People are hurting and we can site anything from problems at home to the economy and much, much worse. Very often people are searching for answers, everyday answers, pragmatic answers, and they often can’t see beyond the boundaries of their latest frustration. So when one talks of “truth,” a topic I write quite often on in my blog post here, people think you are just speaking in the abstract. After all, maybe they can only think about how to get their kid to stop throwing things at the table. How do you bring something which people see as so abstract down to everyday life?

Well, the problem actually starts with our reasoning. We have so alienated the concept of truth from our everyday existence in our culture that we have forgotten how to even consider it. For most, it is like that special box of keep-sakes up in the top of one’s closet that is only brought out for sentimental times. It’s like grandma’s broach, a relic that only looks right when on public display as an antique. We have “abstracted” (removed) truth and made it “abstract” (theoretical).

Is truth really abstract? Consider these definitions of the word “abstract:”

* “Considered apart from concrete existence”
* “Not applied or practical; theoretical”
* “Impersonal, as in attitude or views”

If truth were really abstract, then how can one reason anyway? If truth is abstract, why do we need laws in our society? If truth is abstract, what does the word “good” mean? If we think as though truth is abstract and fail to reason, is it any wonder we are drowning in pragmatic concerns?

Whose Truth?
Well, I know what you are thinking... whose truth? Whose truth do I choose? Now here, if I say “God’s truth,” you will probably accuse me of talking in the abstract again. “Who is God?,” you say. I get that, maybe you don’t know Him, and if you don’t know Him you might think He is also abstract. So are we at an impasse then? Certainly not.

The Truth Life Map
Truth is rooted in real life, it is not some far off concept out of touch with reality. What if truth were a map, to make sense of your terrain, would truth be practical then? For the Christian, the Bible is a life-truth-map, a rule, given to us by God, to guide us in how to glorify (please Him) and enjoy (celebrate Him). Through this process, guess what? Since He made us, through following Him we find out about our purpose... and it’s not some ethereal day dream, He gives us purpose. When we look at it this way, we are in a much different area of discussion.

Maybe you don’t believe in the Christian God, yet how does your belief system answer the questions of life? Are they consistent answers? Let’s face it, if you are reading the wrong map, you are going to be lost in the course of life, what is more, you may end up over a cliff!

Since people are finite, we cannot truly understand truth as God sees it, but we can understand it substantially given what God has explained in the Bible and the truth that is visible in His creation. The Bible answers the questions of life and explains what is revealed in nature about God. Questions like: "Where did I come from? Where am I going? How do I explain man’s dilemma?"

God’s Truth Is Personal
Yet more than this, if God has given truth for life, then maybe He intends well for you, maybe He cares what is going on with mankind. Maybe He is personal and communicates. According to the Bible, God has a purpose in creating us. He also has a plan for each of us and since He made you, He made you personal, so that you could know Him.

Beginning Truthful Communication With God
One need merely start communicating with God by praying to begin truthful communication. Yet God requires something of you, that you accept His Son for your forgiveness. Why would you need forgiveness? We’ve actually been talking about it. Forgiveness for not following the truth about God and what He has made. Many people are confused about truth. On one hand people will say things like, “Man is basically good!,” and that they don't believe we need forgiveness. Yet on the other hand people will object to Christianity because they believe there is too much evil in the world. Saying, “Why would God allow that?” These two thoughts are contradictory.

The fact is, God has provided a solution for evil in the world, and man has proven himself not to be basically good. God decided that He would take care of it in His own way. He would send His Son for us to be a willing sacrifice, and His Son, Jesus, would by this act conquer over death and sin and gain a people for Himself. He would be our King and Redeemer. If you have never prayed, one simply needs to talk and God will hear you. Pray and ask him for forgiveness of abstracting the truth, and tell Him that you accept His Son. Then read the Bible and seek a Christian church that both teaches Biblical truth and practices genuine love.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Becoming A Truth Substantialist

A Devotion By Dan Guinn

Throughout Francis Schaeffer’s works he uses an adjective that has come to be of great value to me. That word is “substantial.” To unpack this we need to understand that Schaeffer was a spiritual realist, in that he placed emphasis on the “reality” of both human pain, dilemma and sin in the world, and the “reality” of the supernatural nature of the universe. He came to this conclusion by simply understanding the creation story.

In Genesis 1:26, it describes mankind as being created in God’s image, after His likeness. Due to this foundational maxim, mankind has dignity, meaning and worth. Yet, in Gen. 3, we know that mankind fell from this place of honor. Due to this, mankind obscures the likeness of God of which we are patterned after in a very real way, we are now trapped in the mire of sin. Yet thankfully, God sent His Son to free us, and return us to our former state, and display the true likeness for which we were intended, the likeness of Christ.

However, the problem for the Christian, in living in the likeness of Christ, is that although we are now free to do so, we still live in a fallen world. We still stand in the mud, so to speak. Moreover, living like Christ and helping others in this mud is a messy business. It is not always clean-cut, or easy. In fact the Christian finds that even our own person is struggling against us (the sin nature within).

So what do we do? How much healing is possible in this life?

There are two very poor roads that are often taken. One is just to accept that we are sinners and just realize that we are going to fall and give into temptation. Second is to get so rigid that we live by a set of list and mechanical rules in hopes of striving for some personal perfection.

Neither of these options are desirable!

If we simply give in, we are saying the Gospel is not true. If we live merely by a set of mechanical rules, we are striving in our own power, and are robbing our self of the joy of the Christian life.

Understanding and Applying Truth Substantially

For Schaeffer, the answer became obvious. If the Christian has the ultimate source of truth, the Bible, then one should be striving to apply it. While absolute victory cannot be achieved in this life until Christ returns and renews all things, there can be real and substantial healing and victory.

This is because the truth that we hold to is truth with a capitol T, or True Truth (the couplet that Schaeffer often used). It is absolute and infinite Truth. While we as finite people cannot understand God’s Truth absolutely, or exhaustively, we can understand it substantially. Likewise, this substantial Truth is practical and makes sense of our reality. It is not abstract, or void of Truth content, but it is real and actual Truth, given to us so that we may understand. Remember, revealed Truth is by God's design.

When Truth is applied to the Christian life, it can thus provide substantial healing. Not perfect, but substantial. It also gives us a glimpse of eternity, when all things will be restored by this Truth, as Scripture tells us that Christ will restore all things.

  • "He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets." Acts 3:21 NIV

So finally, to whatever area of life you turn, Christian, apply Truth and see what happens. Find out what God will do within your heart and mind!

Finally, Be Gracious With Truth!

Always, remember that real Truth is “Gracious Truth.” If we practice Truth without love or compassion, we are not being "Truth-ful" at all, but merely applying ugliness. Also, if we practice Love without Truth we are merely applying compromise. Finding the balance is key, and we as Christians need to wake up to the fact that the world is watching. How we demonstrate the Truth and Love of Christ are both cause for substantial victory, and yet the abuse of these are cause for the world around us to judge our Truth as invalid, and our Love as fake.

I urge you, Christian, be a TRUTH Substantialist!

Meditation On Truth
The Heart's Response To Truth

Spirituality Engaging The Heart & Mind

True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer
No Little People by Francis Schaeffer, ch. 5 Walking Through The Mud)
The Mark Of A Christian by Francis Schaeffer