Tag Archives: truth

Truth Stumbles in the Streets

In January 1975, I was a passenger in a multi-vehicle accident on an ice covered bridge in heavy fog near Knoxville, TN. The uninjured grabbed everything we could to flag oncoming traffic to stop. Tragically, we could not get everyone’s attention. Ignoring the fact that the bridge was covered in ice cost several people their lives that day.

Does ignoring the facts usually have such a tragic ending? No. Maybe that’s one reason we have a culture that puts a premium on mockery. Is truth really just a matter of opinion? How is it that the most attention-getting person in a group is the most skilled mocker?

When Jesus said believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1 KJV, NASB), Jesus was not asking his disciples, “So what are your opinions about God?” He used the word believe the same way Moses used it when God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. Moses told God that they will not believe me. (Exodus 4:1 KJV). Moses told God that the elders of Israel would not accept the words of God as authoritative. Why? Because they would not accept Moses as a credible witness. Exodus 4:1 actually means they will not accept me.

Did you think the word believe, as used in the Bible, meant accept something without thinking, blindly? It means to examine the facts and come to a conclusion. The best example that I have come up with in our culture is a jury foreman, when the judge asks if the jury has reached a verdict. When the foreman responds “We find the defendant is guilty (or not guilty)” he means that they believe, because they have come to a conclusion based on the evidence. Yes, it is an opinion, but it is a reasoned, informed opinion based on the facts.

Have you noticed that our modern culture no longer believes in absolute authority? Believe now means “l like.” Haven’t you heard statements like “I believe I’ll take chocolate” or “I believe pinstripes are better than plaids”? Tobelieve in God no longer means a reasoned conclusion based on facts. While insisting on logic, proof, and evidence, in practice our Secular Humanist culture demonstrates that facts no longer matter.

Does everyone who names the name of Christ agree up to this point? The principles are rather clear and universal. We begin to run into problems when we attempt to go past the principles. May I give a few examples? I know this is sort of dangerous because we all tend to “go off on tangents.” I only want to use these as examples of ignoring the facts. Notre Dame, Brigham Young and Bob Jones University all have similar student honor codes. This story could have happened at any of these schools. The following quote is from the blog “BradentonPatch,” though there are hundreds of other blogs with the same basic information. “Chis Peterman, a senior at Bob Jones University, racked up demerits after he created an activist group on campus, [attacking the High School principal] and ultimately was kicked out when his last demerits were issued for watching the television show “Glee” off campus. This is the same demerit system used at all of the US military academies, such as West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force academy in Colorado. Many times and in many schools violations of an agreed-upon code of conduct enforced by this demerit system have resulted in student expulsions. Probably the most famous expulsion was West Point, in the case of the rowdy undergrad George Armstrong Custer (George was later reinstated and his record purged, so this does not show up in every history of West Point). The point is, for better or worse, the demerit system has been around awhile.

The Huffington Post posts the following: “So the problem with going to college at a baptist [sic, Baptist should be capitalized and Bob Jones is non-denominational] school like Bob Jones University that ‘s actively working toward returning America to the 1740s is that there are some super ridiculous rules. For example, you can only watch certain TV shows off-campus like Girls and Breaking Bad and reruns of Real Sex. Just kidding. Those shows are most definitely on the banned list.

“Chris Peterman, a student at BJU (insert middle school sense of humor here), claims watching Glee on his computer at an off-campus Starbucks got him in big trouble with the school. So much trouble in fact, that they banned him from graduation by suspending him.

“While I think we can all agree that the plot doesn’t always makes [sic] sense on the show, I doubt that’s why it’s on their unapproved list. I’m going to take a wild guess here and assume it has something to do with their positive portrayal of LGBT students as well as their openess [sic] when it comes to discussing teen sexuality.”

I quoted the article in its entirety. It has no explanation for omitting important facts which turn the entire article into a lie. This is the modern “style.” The Huffington Post probably does not even think of this as a lie because everything in the article is factual (sort of). Simply omitting important information is “not important,” as long as it supports their religious beliefs. And apparently spelling words correctly isn’t important, either.

Is that example unclear? Please let me try again. JFK died 49 years ago, so the basic information about his administration is an established fact. Right? I was so wrong. In a facebook post a few weeks ago, I used JFK as an illustration. JFK was assassinated when I was in the 2nd grade in 1963. I pointed out that his administration was known for immorality. When he died, our teacher talked to us about his death, the school principle talked to us, another person came to school to talk to us, family members talked to me, our pastor talked to us, and so did others. I was only in second grade, so it is all kind of muddled, but the one thing I remember clearly is most, if not everyone, started off with something like, “JFK was an immoral man, but…” At that time, I knew nothing about the policies, religion, political party or history of JFK. All I remember were the eyelevel tabloids.

Was I right to post this as an illustration of something else entirely? Here are some of the comments: 1)”Is it your business to know the details of the confessional?” 2)”As a second grader, I seriously doubt you even know what the word hypocrite meant back then, and suspect the only ones painting the Roman Catholic church as anything were anti-Catholic bigots who have taught you very well to follow in their footsteps.” 3)”You say that public sins should be dealt with publicly, but how many people during JFK’s day knew of his shenanigans? Pretty much nobody, at least not the public.”

To this last comment I wrote, “JFK was a well known serial fornicator.” The same writer replied, “JFK’s pecadillo’s (sic) were not known by the public during his life.”

Why should I include these quotes in this blog? This is a blog about how to treat facts. First, I was alive and remember the tabloids and what people told me. But even if people do not believe me, the following is easily found after searching only a few minutes. The January 2, 1962 issue of Look magazine published a special on the Kennedys. It was quite favorable, but it included a small article on two secretaries who were nicknamed Fiddle and Faddle. National Enquirer (some question as to which tabloid was first) began publishing articles about JFK’s mistresses. In 1962 there were no large-audience-syndicated radio announcers like Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh. Every little station throughout the country had its own stable of announcers. Some picked up on this story. The real news came with the death of Marilyn Monroe, August 5, 1962. When the report said that last person she called was JFK (true or not), that statement unleashed a worldwide media frenzy. In 1963, DNC Chairman John M. Bailey circulated a private memo wondering if JFKs immorality would become such a campaign issue that it would bring down the Democratic Party in the 1964 elections. He mused that maybe JFK should not run again.

This information is easy to find. Once again, this is not about JFK. It is completely about being truthful in handling facts. Yes, there are issues with facts on both sides and like a good juror, we must examine the facts carefully and come to the correct conclusion.

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Principles of Writing Fiction

It’s hard to say when people began writing fiction, but it has been used for millennia to communicate truth. Seems strange to say that something that isn’t true can teach truth, but good fiction always has done that. Using characters, settings or events that didn’t actually happen, writers create a vehicle by which to make a point. Jesus Christ taught parables, beginning with “A certain man … or “A sower …,” or “A woman …, ” a clue that what he was about to say was not about a particular person, but was going to make a point about people. Even the Old Testament had parables, such as the Parable of the Trees, warning a king not to get too big for his britches.

Writers of the genre contemporary fiction write about the time they live in. Charles Dickens was immersed in the culture of his times and used his fiction for social commentary, to try to change what was wrong with life as he lived it. Writers like Georgette Heyer use historical fiction to go back to a time and place where things were done differently, to deal with certain social customs, or just to show the readers the color and life of a lost way of living. Science Fiction writers bridge from existing technology to what may be sooner or later. Robert A. Heinlein colonized Mars, updating the pioneer/settler storyline with futuristic adaptations.

Fantasy writers usually base their works on smidgins of reality or convention, classic creatures of Greek mythology or simple agrarian economies. Then they add an element of magic, spirit intervention or other supernatural influence. Allegories are a subcategory of fantasy, but they differ in including an element of teaching, usually related to religion. Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory. Things and people stand for something other than the reality. Pilgrim becomes Christian, symbolizing the salvation experience. His journey is Christian growth. Pilgrim’s Progress was inspired by Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, another story of a Christian and his armor fighting and serving God. This in turn was derived from Ephesians 6, a parable of sorts describing the Helmet of Salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, and the rest of the equipment the Christian needs to wrestle against the dark forces of this world.

The point is that the best fiction, the right fiction to read, is based on Scriptural principles. It treats good and evil as the Scriptures do. Articles, excerpts and essays in this section will show how that should be done.

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Wisdom Says, “Can You Hear Me Now?”

Proverbs Chapter Eight is absolutely amazing. We try to read through Proverbs day by day each month and this one just stops me in my tracks every time.

Why does God say that wisdom is a woman? I don’t know. A friend commented on the fact that Proverbs is mostly advice from father to son. Yet we have this personification (a literary device where an abstract concept is treated like a person) of Wisdom in many places as a woman. She’s stretching out her hands, she’s going around to the high or chief places, she’s standing at the crossroads, and here in Chapter Eight, she’s shouting at the top of her lungs right in front of the city gates. You can’t miss her! Or can you?

She is talking to men, apparently, like most of Proverbs does, but I think we women can listen in. As long as we can handle being called simple and fools like the men. Our culture today tends to depict women as smarter than men, but only this woman, Wisdom, really has the right to call men fools, and I think women better humble their hearts and listen up as well.

“Be ye of an understanding heart!” She cries in verse five, after calling her audience fools. Boy, these listeners better gather the shreds of humility the “I’m OK, You’re OK” secularist world has left them. Do not get all hurt and walk away from this, men and women alike. “Excellent things” are coming. “Right things.” Wisdom is going to speak truth, and her lips can’t stand wickedness. She also promises that what she says is going to be “plain,” and “right.” She’s going to speak righteousness only. The only catch is that you have to “understand” it. It might seem contradictory that Wisdom calls you a fool in one verse and then expects you to understand her in another, but that’s the way it is with believers sometimes. We’re still struggling with that sin nature, but the Holy Spirit still lives in us to teach us and give us understanding if we let Him. You don’t need silver. You don’t need gold. You need instruction straight from the mouth of Wisdom herself. In the ancient world rubies were the most valuable gemstone. You don’t even need them. No comparison. You need this.

When I get to heaven, I want to ask what “witty inventions” are to make sure, but I think for now I’ll settle for understanding that phrase as the ability to come up with good ideas.

People complain about the very thought of “fearing the Lord.” God is a God of love, isn’t he? He is to be loved and feared, like a dad who would do anything for you but is not going to let you get away with being a fool. So stop complaining and listen. Hate evil, hate pride. What’s a “froward mouth”? One that says vulgar, crude, bad, wrong things. Especially when you say them just because it’s entertaining to vulgar, crude, bad people. Why exactly do you want to impress them again? You don’t.

You want to be a counselor. You want to be strong. You want to tell kings and princes and judges how to rule, how to be just. You want honor and “durable riches.” Wisdom has a revenue-sharing plan that can’t be beat. Her dividends are eternal. Those that love wisdom will “inherit substance.” Not talking about material wealth here. You might get that, or you might not, but what you get from Wisdom will last forever.

Who is this Wisdom anyway? What’s her authority for telling us what to do? How’s older than the oldest of God’s works strike you as a tried and true source of solid teaching? Wisdom predates Creation. She witnessed it all, and starting with verse seven she shares her view of it unfolding before her delighted eyes. Depths of oceans and canyons, fountains of water, mountains, hills, earth, fields, even dust gets a mention. She was before it all, and saw it all come to be. Wisdom saw how God arranged and organized things from the beginning, setting boundaries, defining limits. Wisdom is like God’s best friend, watching Him do it all, right there by His side all the way, rejoicing that God made a habitation for man, and, once again, delighted with that special, crowning creation of human beings.

So Wisdom’s got the right to speak to man, to call us her children, to say, “Listen up!” Don’t refuse her instruction. Yes, you’re struggling with sin, with the pride that says, “I don’t have to listen to you!” But that’s what she’s there for, to tell you what to do. She’s God’s best friend, and she’s yours, too. That’s why she’s yelling at the top of her lungs. That’s why you should be this guy (or girl).”Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.” The consequences of being too proud to hear Wisdom’s voice are severe. “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”

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The Conflict of the Ages

Every good writing teacher tells us to narrow our topic because the sure sign of a novice is a paper entitled “The Universe and Everything in It.” Yet The Conflict of the Ages can rightfully include every thought every man has ever made. Augustine’s City of God, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae are three attempts at this daunting task, yet they are incomplete. This brief overview, The Conflict of the Ages, will include information not available to Augustine, John Calvin or Thomas Aquinas. I also hope, by the grace of God, to make this much shorter work easier to understand for the modern mind. All Scripture references are from the KJV, unless otherwise noted.

The Conflict of the Ages references hundreds of authors, yet one source needs special mention. The website Sacred Texts by J.B. Hare is the largest collection of public domain material of which I am aware. The entire website of over one thousand books is available for purchase on either CD ROM or DVD ROM. All of the ancient texts I source are public domain books from this collection. A problem with this or any other collection is proving the validity of the primary sources. Though I do not know anything about J. B. Hare, except the information posted on his website, I believe that he faithfully and accurately scanned the texts. The problem is, are the texts reliable? Since they are public domain, they are older and sometimes not the latest translations. I am confident, however, that they are acceptable. Some sources I use are books where Westerners lived among a tribe and wrote down oral traditions. Though we trust that the authors accurately recorded the oral traditions, how much ‘contamination’ with outside influences shaped these oral traditions? The Lore of the Whare-Wananga, a New Zealand tribe, is well documented by the translator S. Percy Smith to be older than outside influences and free of ‘contamination.’  Myths of the Cherokee by James Mooney, however, was published in 1900 after more than 250 years of wars and close contact with outsiders. The level of outside influence on the oral traditions of the North American Indians is impossible to measure or deny.

Introduction

I. Desire and Interest

No power on earth can substitute for desire and interest. In the oldest written human record, The Epic of Gilgamesh, men are controlled by gods and goddesses through their desires. Children who want something can do unimaginable amounts of work to fulfill their desires when no amount of coercion can force them to fulfill their responsibilities. God has given us the responsibility is to control our desires.

A. Personal Responsibility

Some responsibilities we can ignore and others can do them for us, such as washing dishes or taking out the trash. Some can do other responsibilities for us with great difficulty, such as bathing an invalid. But some responsibilities cannot be done by anyone else. No one can memorize for us. No one else can change our will. Other people can change circumstances to force us to do something against our will, but no one can honestly change another person’s will.

1. Get Wisdom and Understanding

The purpose of this is to help us obey the command Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:7. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” The way Solomon uses the word wisdom is close to our idea of skill. It means a combination of the knowledge necessary for a task and the discipline to do the task correctly. Solomon exhorts us to use all of our strength and ability to become knowledgeable and skillful in doing what is right and best. He put it another way in Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

2. Study Commanded

However, even when we have no burning desire, we are still commanded to sturdy. 2 Timothy 2:15: :Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” This is not referring to bookwork only, but is similar to what Solomon calls wisdom. It means learning what is right and doing what is right. This is a little clearer in Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 4:1: “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.”

3. Keep at it; a little at a time

Isaiah said in 28:10 and 13, “Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” A strict interpretation of the passage is Israelites listening to another language in captivity. However, the same principles apply to any type of study, even involuntary. Keep at it, a little at a time.

B. Attitude of the World

Charles Stanley has often said that attitude is what controls us, that it is the most important thing in our lives. The attitude of the world is self indulgence, pleasure. Self-discipline is only important when the end result is greater pleasure.

1. Love not the World

I John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The attitude of self-indulgence is at war with the love of God. This is a simple, though difficult, decision which everyone must make. 1 John 2:17: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

2. Learn not the way of the heathen

Jeremiah 10:2: “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen.” Where John writes about the attitude of the world, Jeremiah writes about that attitude carried out into action. Once again a simple, though difficult command.

C. Study is difficult

Some people might find study a way of escaping other responsibilities. A very tiny number of people find study enjoyable. Most people, however, would rather do just about anything rather than study. Remaining focused on the subject of study is tiring and difficult.

1. No end to book.

Solomon said, in Ecclesiastes 12:12, “Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” No one has the time to do all the studying he believes that he should. Other responsibilities interfere. No one could have ever read all the books he should have. There simply are too many books and life is too short.

2. Study wearies the flesh

Study is one of the most fatiguing tasks God has given to the children of men. He has given us the responsibility to balance the tasks in our lives for His glory. But just because a task is difficult does not mean that we should ignore it.

II. Honesty

Proverbs 23:23: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. “

Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Honesty and truth are similar, but not quite the same. Diogenes searched for an honest man, yet he never claimed to be one. Searching for honesty in others is certainly frustrating, but searching for truth can be quite fulfilling. Truth is an absolute, independent of the sinner. Honesty is a character trait. Since we are all sinners, each of us can be honest and truthful at one time and dishonest at another. A man unfaithful to his wife might be trustworthy with large amounts of money. A woman who lies to get a promotion at work might never even consider stealing from that same employer.

A. We are self-deceived.

Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

I John 1:8-10: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

We are born self-deceived and nothing we can do will change our basic nature.

1. We do what we want to do: Pride

Putting our own desires ahead of doing or thinking what is right is the essence of pride. Monks in the Middle Ages who gave up all their personal goods and rights would fight over a pen, simply because it was assigned to them. Apart from yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit, we are all proud. We ignore our pride by looking for pride in others.

2. What we want to do is not what is best.

This is a more subtle form of pride. We choose to do something that we are convinced is best, simply because it is what we want to do. The first and more obvious form of pride is simply doing what we want. This is convincing ourselves, and often others, that our course of action is best. True love is doing what is best for the ones we love. It is also honest.

B. Honesty is the greatest need on earth.

Complete honesty will begin by admitting that we are sinners and finish in Jesus Christ. Without honesty, neither individuals nor the human race has any hope. Wars are the result of national dishonesty. Endless fights are the result of personal dishonesty. Dishonesty is the root cause for personal destruction. Dishonesty is the root cause for family disintegration, national disintegration and ultimately, wars.

C. According to the Word of God, everyone who was ever born or ever will be born falls into one of three categories.

1. Believer

The Bible is a record of believers. Adam is a believer. So also are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, Daniel, John, Mary, Peter, Paul and many more. They are also, as we are, sinners. Their sins are recorded along with their faith.

2. Unbeliever

The Bible is a record of triumph over unbelievers. Balak, Goliath, Jezebel and her prophets of Baal, Sennacherib, the Philistines, Tobiah and many others openly defied the living God. Their destruction is accurately recorded.

3. Compromiser

These are men who knew the Living God and chose to rebel against Him. Today we might say that these are men who want their freedom. Lot, Balaam, Samson, Saul the first king of Israel and Esau fall into this category. Without additional revelation, it is not possible to know if these men were believers or not. Their sins destroyed others and their life stories are great tragedies.

III. Tools

Very few people who look at beautiful cabinets wonder what kind of tools made them. Like those cabinets, very few people who look at our lives will wonder what kind of tools shaped us into what we are today. Tools, and skillful use of those tools, however, are essential for shaping us. We must not get wrapped up in the tools themselves, but keep our eyes focused on the ultimate goal, the ‘finished product.’

A. Designed for unbelievers or weak believers

If we look at ourselves honestly, each of us must admit that in at least some area of his life he is a weak believer. Only pride will toss aside these tools with the attitude of ‘I have progressed beyond this.’

1. Apologetics: Francis Schaeffer, Josh Mac Dowell

The science of Apologetics is the systematic defense of the Faith. It does not mean to apologize for. I am not endorsing any of the men I mention simply because I do not know enough about them. All men change from day to day. I am, however, endorsing these books. Josh MacDowell wrote two excellent books, Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Both books now have been combined into The New evidence that Demands a Verdict. These books use an outline format that makes the information easy to understand. It is similar in format to many doctrines books, with a lot of information in a small space.

Francis Schaeffer, who is now with the Lord, wrote many books in prose. His books are easy to read, though the subject matter is difficult. His major apologetic work is The God Who Is There. Francis Schaeffer not only shows that God exists, but also that He is a God of Love. Each work of his that I have read remained focus on his main point and was a delight to read. If you do not enjoy outlines, I highly recommend Francis Schaeffer.

I realize that most people either skimmed over or skipped entirely my emphasis on honesty and the dangers of pride. The following is one example of why honesty and avoiding pride are so important. The source of this piece is the website http://www.infidels.org. Jeffrey Jay Lowder lists himself as editor. “Many readers will recognize me as the editor of a comprehensive Internet rebuttal to Volume I of McDowell’s Evidence. Yet McDowell completely ignored our criticisms in his “fully updated” New Evidence. This cannot be due to ignorance. I have personally tried to correspond with Mr. McDowell twice; each time I received no acknowledgement.” When I clicked on the rebuttal, I found a series of authors, with Mr Lowder writing the introduction. In the introduction he writes that the purpose for writing these articles is that “ETDAV is also arguably the most influential Christian apologetics book on the Internet, which is what led the Internet Infidels to write The Jury Is In: The Ruling on McDowell’s “Evidence”.” The first author, Farrell Till, writes in his opening paragraph:

“In ETDAV, McDowell begins his defense of the Bible with the claim that it is unique. He parades before us an array of ‘scholars’ to testify to various features of the Bible that qualify it to be considered ‘different from all others [books],’ as if anyone would seriously try to deny that the Bible is unique, i.e., different from all others. At the very beginning of my analysis of this chapter of ETDAV, I will concede that the Bible is undeniably unique. Certainly, there is no other book like it, but this fact, as we will see, becomes more of an embarrassment to the Bible than proof of its divine origin.”

This is character assassination, a tactic they frequently use, as well as flawed logic. The poor writing style makes any kind of an intelligent response difficult. Rather than angering these people with points they do not understand, we need to look at the real issue, honesty.

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