Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
Truth invokes response. Since truth can be known it demands a response of those who come to know it. Knowledge of God produces an obligation to obedience. In other words orthodoxy invokes orthopraxy. John’s Gospel highlights three particular elements of this response to truth.
First, a Christian is to live by the truth. Jesus told Nicodemus that “whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out by God.” Christians therefore must do what is true; they must live by the truth. “Genuinely knowing divine reality will inevitably be reflected in the way disciples live; they will obey everything that Jesus has taught them.” In other words, “God’s truth and faithfulness are to be reflected in his people’s lives.”
A Christian must also worship in spirit and truth. The woman at the well was discussing worship locales with Jesus when he declared to her:
Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in
will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. Jerusalem
What then does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? D. A. Carson offers some helpful thoughts on this difficult passage, which is worth quoting in length. Worship,
…must be in spirit and truth, i.e. essentially God-centered, made possible by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in personal knowledge of and conformity to God’s Word-made-flesh, the one who is God’s truth, the faithful exposition and fulfillment of God and his saving purposes. The worshippers whom God seeks worship him out of the fullness of the supernatural life they enjoy (‘in spirit’), and on the basis of God’s incarnate Self-Expression, Christ Jesus himself, through whom God’s person and will are finally and ultimately disclosed (‘in truth’); and these two characteristics form one matrix, indivisible.
Christian worship is based on the truth of the gospel and worked out by the supernatural indwelling of the Spirit. Worship is thus an event based on the truth of God and the work of grace in the believer’s life. Grace and truth, which Christ is full of, is central to our worshipping in spirit and truth. Only those who trust in the God who is true and who have had that God revealed to them through his Word are able to worship in spirit and truth. It must be noted that worship is not just an event but encompasses all of life. There is both a broad way of worship, which is all of life and a narrow or corporate gathering of worship.
Lastly, the Christian must be continually sanctified by the truth. Christ prayed to the Father on behalf of his people, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” This high priestly pray of Jesus was for both his immediate disciples and for those who will believe in him through their word (vs. 20). Believers are to be sanctified through the true Word of God.
This sanctification by the Word of God is achieved through the working of the Spirit. Sproul writes, “The Spirit is not divorced from the Word in such a way as to reduce revelation to an exercise in subjectivism. The Spirit works with the Word (cum verbo) and through the Word (per verbum), not without or apart from the Word (sine verbo).” Beeke and Lanning also argue that God transforms believers through a combination of these two great powers, namely the word and the Spirit. “Each indispensable to the other, and both inseparably joined together, so as to accomplish all God’s will upon his people.”
Beeke and Lanning show by what methods the Spirit works through the Word to transform and sanctify the believer. First, there is the fusion of Spirit and Word in the reading of Scripture. Daily reading of the Word of God helps bring about a renewal of the mind. Secondly, the preaching of God’s Word helps convict of sin and bring comfort to the downtrodden. Thirdly, the hearing of God’s Word is often a healing balm to the soul. Lastly, the singing of God’s Word is a returning to God the praise due his name.
God’s truth requires a response. The very foundation of all truth, God, has made himself known and he has granted this knowledge of the truth to those who hear his voice, his sheep. Being confronted with the truth causes an obligation on the part of the hearer to respond to that truth. Biblically the believer is to respond to the truth of God through living his truth, worshipping God in spirit and truth, and lastly by being sanctified or transformed by the truth.
 See Frame, DKG, 43, 108-109
 Nicole has written, “The ethical is never far remote, and the distinction between dogmatics and ethics, while useful in the theological curriculum, is not to be pressed into a separation of doctrine and practice, which should always remain united.” In The Biblical Concept of Truth, 295.
 John 3:21
 Crump, “Truth.”
 John 4:21-24
 D. A. Carson. The Gospel According to John.
 See John M. Frame. Worship in Spirit and Truth: A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship.
 John 17:17
 Sproul, R. C. “The Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit.” in Inerrancy. Norman L. Geisler. ed.
 Beeke, Joel R. and Ray Lanning. “The Transforming Power of Scripture.” in Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible. Don Kistler. ed.
 Ibid, 234-262
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Knowing the Truth
Having established the metaphysical foundation of truth as being rooted in the Godhead the question that immediately arises is whether or not this truth can be known. The Gospel of John provides the answer to this epistemological question. First, it begins by showing humanity’s bondage to falsehood. Jesus, the light of the world comes to the world which knows him not. They know him not because their eyes and minds have been blinded by their father the devil.
The interchange with Jesus and the Pharisees in John 8:39-47 is instructive of the human condition as being bound in sin and darkness. Jesus attributes their inability to know the truth about him being from the Father to their father being the devil. He says in verse 42: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”
The Pharisees could not bear to hear such words from Jesus. They could not understand because they are of their father the devil and their will is to do that which their father desires. The devil has nothing to do with the truth. In fact it is fair to say that he is antithetical to the truth. He is the ultimate liar, the father of lies. There is absolutely no truth in him and by deduction those who are his children are also without that truth. Therefore Jesus concludes in verse 45, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” Humanity’s father has blinded their eyes and they have fallen into lying, deceit, and falsehood. Therefore they do not know the truth. They are unable to see the light for they walk in darkness.
However, God has chosen some out of humanity to the truth. Jesus states before Pilate in John 18, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus himself declares that there are those who are of the truth and that they will listen to his voice. The parallel with John 10 is significant. The sheep hear the shepherds voice and come to him: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” God has given certain sheep to Jesus and Jesus came to earth to die for those sheep. Those sheep were chosen from the beginning of time to come to know the good shepherd; they were chosen to know the truth.
While many are blinded to the truth God has called out some from this world who will hear the truth and listen to its voice. These are the true disciples of Christ. They are the ones who remain in the true vine, drink his blood and eat his body, and walk in the light. They are the ones who believe that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life. They abide in his word and doing so they will know the truth and the truth will set them free.
God has chosen a people to communicate his truth with. Therefore in this postmodern world, where truth is no longer to be found the Christian can stand out as heralding the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is true knowledge, true wisdom, this is the truth. By walking in the light Christians are able to steer others into the light. The Christian task after being converted from the bondage of darkness is to proclaim the light of the truth.
We can know God because he has revealed himself. This is at the heart of the gospel. This does not mean that God communicates all that he is and knows but he nonetheless has communicated some true elements
Epistemologically the truth can be known. Truth being rooted in the Godhead is revealed to humanity through the Gospel. God, through Jesus Christ, breaks down the barriers of our sinful blind eyes and having chosen us reveals the truth, as it really is to us in the good news of his Son Jesus Christ. This revelation of Christ is at the heart of John’s usage of truth.
 See Frame’s discussion in DKG about what unbelievers can and cannot know pp. 49-61
 John 10:14-16
 cf. John 6 with the emphasis of Jesus on those whom the Father has given him.
 John 8:31-38
 D. A. Carson writes, “Because he chooses to communicate with finite mortals in their languages, God cannot possibly communicate all that he is and knows, but I cannot see how that is a barrier to his communicating some true elements of what he is and knows. Of course, we will misunderstand the communication in all sorts of ways, owing both to our finiteness and to our sinfulness. But the content itself is objectively true, a subset of what Omniscience knows, and cast in culture-laden forms that demand of modern readers that we attempt to fuse the horizon of our own understandings with that of the culture and language in which the deposit was given.” In The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism.
Monday, March 06, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
Parliament's Justice Commission's decision to approve an anti-smoking law this week is expected to seriously change the way Turks live. Smoking is an ancestral tradition that goes back to the 17th century, when the "nargile" -- the hookah, or water pipe -- became a fixture in Ottoman coffee houses.
For about half the adult population of
Health Ministry figures show about 110,000 Turks die of smoking-related illness each year. About 60 percent of men and 20 percent of women in the country of 71 million people are smokers, one of the highest rates in
Nicotine addiction has reached worrying levels even in schools, where 11.7 percent of schoolchildren smoke, according to ministry figures, despite a ban on the sale of tobacco products to minors.
Even among the justice commission members failed to agree on the extent of the ban, with smokers among them describing the bill as an execution order for smokers.
Justice and Development Party (AKP) Gümüşhane deputy Mahmut Durdu said every article of the anti-smoking bill was problematic, while Adıyaman deputy Hüsrev Kutlu argued that most diseases were due to stress, describing smoking as a way to combat stress.
The bill approved by the commission still needs to be passed by Parliament's General Assembly.
Turkish Anti-smoking Fighters Foundation (SSV), Ubeyd Korbey, has said that warning messages on cigarettes packets, in concert with a series of anti-smoking advertisements, has decreased the number of people addicted to smoking in Turkey over the past six years.
In a statement made to the Anatolia news agency, Korbey asserted that the effects of a more concerted fight against cigarettes in
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Truth is founded upon the Trinitarian God of Scripture in both his person and his revelation. In John 3:33, John the Baptist declares that God is truth. Geerhardus Vos notes that throughout the Gospel of John the concept of truth is associated with the heavenly. In John the Baptist’s declaration of God as truth Vos’ argument seems justified. John ties truthfulness to God because he is from above and the testifier of the Father is also seen as true because he comes from heaven.
In fact as Groothius notes, “each member of the Trinity is closely associated with truth in the New Testament.” Jesus constantly makes mention that he is testifying to the one and only true God. In John 7:25ff Jesus is teaching in the temple even though his enemies are seeking to kill him. Some question that the authorities really may think he is the Christ. However, they know where Jesus came from and believe that they will not know where the Christ comes from. Jesus responded by declaring that you may know where I come from but I have not come on my own accord. Then he proceeds to say, “He who sent me is true, and him you do not know.” Jesus’ mission was to bear testimony to the Father and he does so by declaring that He is True.
Elsewhere Jesus almost in passing makes reference to the Father being true. The people did not understand that he was speaking of the Father, but Jesus exalts Him as being true, as being the truth. Lastly, the Father is declared as true in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” The only way to a life eternal is through God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. Knowing God involves knowing him as the one and only true God.
God the Son, Jesus Christ, is also the truth. He is both the messenger of truth and the message of truth. Jesus’ mission as messenger was to reveal the Father who is truth. The mission of Jesus is summed up well in John 1:9: “The true Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” Jesus’ mission was to be a lamp unto his chosen people’s feet. He was to lift their heads to the radiance and truthfulness of the Father. The true light of the world came to point those in darkness to the source of that light. He alone was able to be a faithful witness, a truthful messenger, and a just herald to the Gospel of his grace.
Indeed grace and truth can never be separated. Coming from the Father, Jesus was full of grace and truth. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus’ message was to bring not the law, which was given, through Moses, but grace and truth. This grace is made known because Christ reveals the Father who has never been revealed before. Jesus has this right because of his closeness to the Father.
Jesus also is the message of truth. Jesus is the “true light, which enlightens everyone.” He is the true bread and his body and blood are the true food and drink. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is also the true vine. To know the truth one must walk in the light, eat of his body and blood, come to the Father through him and abide in him. Crump writes, “John presents Jesus as the final revelation of God, who is himself God; the one against whom all claims to meaning and reality are to be evaluated.”
The Spirit is also truth. Crump notes three aspects to the Spirit being defined as truth. First, the Spirit who comes from the Father is also God and therefore truth. Secondly, the Spirit continues the mission of Jesus, which was the proclamation of truth. Thirdly, the Spirit will lead disciples into the truth. The Spirit has come in the world to be an “advocate of heavenly reality in this world, advancing God’s case, as it were, and exposing, or at least condemning, all counterfeit claims to truth.
From the above texts it is clear that the Gospel of John sets forth the Trinity as Truth. Truth as “conformity to fact” and “completion” have their foundation in the Godhead. Roger Nicole understates this by writing, “The truth is called God’s truth for he has a stake in it.” Indeed God has a stake in the truth because he is the truth! Herman Bavinck sums up the doctrine of God as truth:
It is therefore correct to see God as the metaphysical foundation for all truth. He is truth, he is the standard of truth and he is all the final judge of truth and falsity. In other words God is the precondition for all truth since he is the Truth. God is the norm or criterion for all knowledge and truth. Without God there would be no truth and truth would not be attainable by humanity. Truth is derivable and knowable because God is truth and he has revealed himself.
The Trinitarian nature of truth is founded upon the metaphysical aspect of the Godhead being truth. The Father is true, the Son is true and the Spirit is true. Therefore there exists a foundation in this postmodern world for truth. There is such a thing as objective truth!
 Geerhardus Vos. “True’ and ‘Truth’ in the Johannine Writings.” in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos. Richard B. Gaffin Jr. ed.
 See John 3:31-32
 Truth Decay, 63
 cf. John 17:18 where the one who sent Christ is true and there is no falsehood in him.
 John 8:21-30 Pharisees are here questioning Jesus, they ask him who he is and where he is from. Jesus always goes back to his heavenly mission as one commissioned by the Father to proclaim the glory of the Father.
 to.n mo,non avlhqino.n qeo.n – The one true God, avlhqino.n stands in the attributive position in relation to qeo.n. Truth is attributed to God the Father.
 Crump writes, “As ultimate reality, God the Father is the only standard by which all truth or falsehood, light or darkness are measured in this world.” Crump, D. M. “Truth.” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and
 John 3:17; 4:34; 5:24, 30; 6:29; 8:25; 17:18; 20:21
 John 1:14, 17. John Frame writes, “Truth like knowledge and wisdom, comes by grace, by trinitarian communication, by Word and Spirit.” DKG, 49
 John 1:9; 6:32, 55; 14:6; 15:1 respectively
 Crump, “Truth.”
 Ibid. See John 14:16-17 for the Spirit as another helper, 15:26 to his testifying to Christ, 16:7-11 for his conviction of the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, 16:13 for guiding believers into the truth. See also P. D. Woodbridge. “Truth.” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner. eds. electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
 For truth being understood as conformity to fact and completion see Roger Nicole. “The Biblical Concept of Truth.” in Scripture and Truth. D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge. eds.
 Ibid, 294
 Bavinck, Herman. The Doctrine of God. William Hendriksen. trans.
 John Frame writes, “In the lordship attribute of authority, he is the very standard of truth for his creatures…There is no higher standard than God against which his truth may be measured. So God’s metaphysical ultimacy implies that he is the standard of prepositional truth.” In The Doctrine of God.
 Frame, DKG, 124
Saturday, March 04, 2006
The following few posts will seek to answer that question. A course will be charted between the Scylla of modernism’s foundationalist truth and the Charybdis of postmodernism’s destruction of truth. Christianity offers an alternative paradigm on the nature of truth. The goal of this paper will be to examine the Biblical teaching of truth as found in the Gospel of John. First, it will be shown that the nature of truth is founded upon the Trinitarian God of Christianity and His Word. Secondly, it will be argued that the possibility of the knowledge of truth is founded on the nature of Scriptural truth. Thirdly, given the nature and knowability of truth there follows an oughtness of truth, which will be set forth. These three elements or perspectives on truth stand together as a construction of the biblical notion of truth. Lastly a few applications to the postmodern situation will be set forth in seeking an alternate Christian paradigm.
 J. Richard Middleton and Brian J. Walsh. Truth is Stranger That It Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age.
 For a detailed examination of this shift see the following: D. A. Carson. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism.
 Philip D. Kenneson. “There’s No Such Thing as Objective Truth, and It’s a Good Thing, Too.” In Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm. Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World.
 Douglas Groothuis. Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism.
 My indebtedness to John Frame will be evident throughout this paper even when not directly cited. It is the hope of this paper to add some Biblical meat to his theological arguments. By this I mean adding more of an exegetical flavor to the argument through an understanding of truth as found in the Gospel of John. See his The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God.