It depends on what the definition of “true” is…

This one very well may piss some people off… but I’m gonna go ahead and put it out there because I think it’s a VERY interesting point, and I think it sheds some (much needed) light on the many fights disagreements discussions concerning what postmodern/emerging/pick-a-buzz-word people think about the big T word…

TRUTH.

This is from Pete Rollins‘ blog. And he says the following, concerning the age-old question of “Is Christianity true?”:

…there is a much more basic question that one must ask before this question can be understood properly. The question that one must ask is not, ‘is Christianity true’ (at least not yet), but rather ‘what is it that Christianity claims when it claims to be true’. To put it another way, the issue is not to attempt to ascertain, on rational or empirical grounds, whether or not the claims of Christ are true, but rather to work out what did Christ mean when he claimed to be the truth. Without asking this we end up simply embracing the commonly accepted definition of truth, we accept the rules of the game that is being played and then wonder why we are losing.

So… If I’m understanding him correctly… he’s saying that the reason that we have a hard time with convincing people that Christianity/Jesus/The Bible is true, is not because we need to further hone our arguments, or we need to discover more “proof.” But it’s because we’re attempting to find answers to a question that there is no answer to…  because it’s the wrong KIND of question.

Here’s another good quote:

So what is the truth of Christianity?  …The truth of Christianity is life. The implications of this are vast…  (emphasis mine)

So…  work with me on this for a second…  He’s looking at Christianity as something that IS TRUTH or CONVEYS TRUTH, rather than something that can be (or should be) PROVEN TO BE TRUE in a modern/scientific sense.

I think that distinction seems, on the surface, to be subtle and simply word semantics…  But I think that if you chew on it for a little bit longer, it’s actually VERY different…  and like Pete says, “The implications of this are vast…”

I’m gonna have to think about this more…  I suggest that you do too…

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4 thoughts on “It depends on what the definition of “true” is…

  1. It is important to learn what Jesus and the other writer actually meant. What did it mean then and how does it apply now.

    So here’s an example look at the word “yoke”
    In Matthew 11:29 Jesus says: Matthew 11:29-30 NIV “29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    I’m sure many of us would interpet that to mean the wooden device used to hold oxen together. In fact, I’ve heard many sermons about that.

    On the Site: Follow the Rabbi or That The World May Know
    http://community.gospelcom.net/Brix?pageID=2753
    it gives the cultural meaning for when a rabbi says “Take my yoke upon you.”
    Ray VanDerLan has excellent teachings / videos that provide knowledge about the real cultural, geographical, and Biblical meanings to many things.

    Here’s the info from that site (site noted above) about the meaning of “yoke”
    “Rabbis invited people to learn to keep the Torah. This was called taking ?the yoke of Torah? or ?the yoke of the kingdom of heaven?. Rabbi?s with s?mikhah would have a new interpretation or yoke. Torah teachers would teach the accepted interpretations or yoke of their community. Jesus invitation to those who listened to many teachers and interpretations helps establish him as a Rabbi would present an interpretation that was easy and light (to understand not necessarily to do) (Matt. 13:11?30). As such, he was probably not speaking to unsaved people burdened with sin but people unsure of the many interpretations they heard in the dynamic religious debate in Galilee.”

  2. I think you’ve gotten caught up on semantics when the quote has actually got things the wrong way round. It’s revealing that the tables have turned and it used to be that Christianity was accepted as true and rationalists had to try and prove it was not. Now it is the role of apologetics to try and rebuff cynics but, being unable to do so, they divert into a discussion about what ‘truth’ is.

    Truth, friend, is not such a malleable concept. If the four gospels contradict in their account, though all are the direct word of God, then that casts legitimate doubt. Similarly if any of the commandments are such that they could only be appropriate in a time two millenia ago and are now harsh, cruel, and unjust, then they are not the Word of the All-Wise.

  3. Grant-

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    I guess that I wouldn’t look at Truth as being “malleable” either, which implies that you can bend it and shape it to whatever you’d like it to be… I think that this is more about the larger concept of what is truly the reality of life, which has less to do with apologetics, or proof texts, etc.

    I think that a great example of what I’m talking about is this: the TRUTH is that God created the world and it’s inhabitants, and he created us to be in community with him, with each other, and with the rest of his creation as well. Is there a consensus on literally how he did that (Six 24-hour days, six day-ages, etc.)? No, there isn’t. But does it make the reality that God is the creator any less true? Not at all…

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