Truth is knowable — his name is Jesus

Aug 20, 2018 by

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Our small group met a few days ago and once again enjoyed moments of laughter, food, spiritual discussion and prayer together as we discussed the Gospel of Mark. At one point, we briefly discussed how to discern truth. One person mentioned that he’s fascinated by comparing how two TV channels handle one story so differently. In that setting, we laughed as we considered how various sources spin a story to cater to their audience and bank accounts.

But, in reality, this trajectory is quite tragic. News organization should portray truth clearly and not be biased by the corporations which fund their existence. But our culture has shifted. People increasingly embrace relativism — a belief system that proclaims truth is found in the eye of the beholder. We are now seeing that portrayed within various styles of news reporting.

Relativism is nothing new. At the end of Judges, “the people had no king and did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Since there’s nothing new under the sun, Christians shouldn’t freak out by this trend within Western culture.

However, if we are not careful, relativism can also find its way into our Mennonite-leaning theology. In my perspective, it already has. For example, when you hear two contradicting views about a passage of Scripture, how do you discern which is true? I see three possible outcomes. We can try to embrace two conflicting statements and claim a form of theological relativism. We can throw up our hands and say, “We can’t be sure of truth!” Or we can do the diligent work necessary to discern truth.

Fortunately, truth is a person. He’s not relative or ambiguous. He’s real. His name is Jesus and he’s very much alive. He has sent his Spirit, the Spirit of truth (John 16:13) into those who receive him. He has inspired human authors to describe revealed truth. We read this when we open our Bibles. And as we know him, his Spirit and his written Word, God’s unshakable truths become rise to the surface. Therefore, when we feel stuck in the process of discerning truth, there ought to be questions which prod us forward and help us weigh truth clams in light of Jesus’ life, Spirit and Word.

Consider the acronym S.C.R.I.P.T. to spur on your process of discernment.

1) SCRIPTURE: Are there several other Scripture passages which support, or deny, this truth claim?

2) CREEDS: How have Christian creeds or confessions of faith interpreted this this claim over the centuries (not just in your tradition, but across all of orthodox Christianity)?

3) REASONABLE: Is the truth claim reasonable based upon what I know already about God?

4) INTENT: Am I seeking to understand the intention of the human author and the surrounding context to the best of my ability?

5) PURPOSE: If I embrace this claim, does it accomplish the Sprit’s purpose in leading me toward Christ-like living?

6) TEACHERS: How have respectable Christian teachers over the centuries interpreted this truth claim (not just in your tradition, but across the Christian world)?

These questions, along with fervent prayer and humility, can help us discern the difference between truth and error in our own Biblical interpretations.

The topic of discernment is always relevant, but it is even more so as relativism finds its way into contemporary journalism and Christian congregations. We need to be “as wise as serpents, but as innocent as doves.” Let’s keep growing in our understanding of the Truth. Truth can be known! He is our Lord.

Aaron Yoder is lead pastor of First Mennonite Church in Morton, Ill.


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