Christians and Truth

Please note: this page is in progress

Unlike my personal website where I publish pages that are really in progress — with TODOs floating around, fragmentary thoughts, and much unpolish — any given in progress page on this ministry website is really only in progress insofar as I have not finished writing all the content that I expect to be eventually located on the page. That is to say, everything that is published on the page is already complete, edited, and checked-over for accuracy and correctness, but there is still more planned writing on the page to be completed.

I'm an outliner when I write, so how this plays out in practice is that I will fill in the outline skeleton (as displayed in the table of contents) with content over time, until the whole page is eventually complete.

Study overview: purpose and scope

Introduction

For Christians, truth is obtained from God’s written Word, and from a relationship with the living Word, Jesus Christ. Science and related disciplines (all of which ultimately come from God) are sources of truth as well, but not the divine, spiritual truth that is the subject of this study.

The fundamental mechanics of Christians’ relationship with truth are really pretty simple. God has structured the universe in such a way that it speaks of His glory and eternal power (cf. Psalm 19), and has written eternity on the hearts of men. Collectively, these (and other) general sources of divine truth are known as general revelation. To those who respond to general revelation, seeking further knowledge of God, God provides special revelation in the form of His inspired Word – the Bible – and qualified and prepared teachers to minister it. These are the sources of truth for all Christians. We believe the truth obtained from these sources through the free will that comes from the image of God. We are justified in our belief because of the character of God and the promises He has made us.

The reason why more needs to be said is because complications arise. How exactly does one get truth from the Bible? How does one decide if a teacher is of God? Why do some people say that prophecy (which was previously an additional form of special revelation) is still in effect? Why is it that in our modern information age – wherein we have more potential to know the fullness of God’s revealed truth than any time before – an average Christian knows less truth? This series aims to answer these questions and others like them.

Presuppositions

About God

About the Bible

About human capability to know truth

Sources Of Truth

General revelation

Special revelation

Forms of special revelation before the canon closed

The Word of God

Inspiration: its implications and its importance

Only the original texts are inspired

Basic hermeneutics

The importance of context in determining meaning

Areas of supplemental knowledge

Brief surveys regarding the impact that specialized knowledge has on interpretation.

Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic

Textual criticism

Ancient history and culture

Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Babylonian, etc.

Church history

Systematic theology

Historical theology

Teachers within the Church

Acting as interpreters and explainers of the Bible.

The gift in general

Who can have it

How should they go about preparing for ministry?

Improper sources of truth

Appeals to history and tradition

Appeals to authority

Hymns, liturgies, creeds, and other extra-biblical materials

Experience, particularly third party reports

Emotion

Believing the Truth

The importance of epignosis in the Christian life.

The difference between intellectual assent and spiritual truth learned, believed, and applied.

“Taking someone’s word for it” is inevitable for lay Christians

The uncomfortable fact that lay Christians will not, in all circumstances, be able to discern truth on their own; eventually, they will have to “take someone’s word for it.”

The principle of one teaching ministry at a time

Picking one teaching ministry to trust so as to avoid doubt and anxiety over what is true, and exactly what this means.

But what about when earnest teachers disagree?

How lay Christians ought to handle situations when seemingly earnest, well-educated Christian teachers take opposing views on important matters. Who should they trust?

The so-called “fruit test”

How to tell good teachers from bad teachers

Justifying belief

The fundamental incomprehensibility of Christian belief to the unsaved

And what we should make of this fact.

A review of the implications of inspiration

A meditation on the character and promises of God

Review and implications