Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Correspondance with a Student about Truth, Part 1

Grading more Ethics papers....and tonight I get this from X, a Christian student:

"The relationship between god and truth is a very interesting one to me. In christianity and jewish belief some people will tell us that there is no room for truth and that we just have to believe. This is because christianity has a lot of unknown things that if we used truth we wouldnt be able to proov and it would creat loop holes in our religion."

Here is my response:

Finally, X, I'm fascinated by your comment that you have heard some people say that there is no room for truth in Christianity and Judaism. Do you think perhaps you have this confused with "reason?" How could a Christian reject "truth" when Jesus himself claims to BE the Way, the TRUTH and the life? What are we believing if it isn't the truth? Go look in a concordance or do a keyword search for "truth" on Bible Gateway and see how important truth is to Jews and Christians!

That is why I think what you might really mean here is "reason," rather than "truth." Typically, the way these discussions go is for people who have swallowed the Modernist "either-or" way of thinking to insist we must choose: EITHER faith OR reason, EITHER religion OR science. Thus, one hand, we get Enlightenment rational humanists, who are suspicious of anything they can't empirically verify (taste, touch, smell, see, or hear). For them, science is the only way to truth. On the other hand, we get Christian "fideists" who are afraid of the mind, and whose anti-intellectualism makes them totally forget Scriptures that demand we put not only our hearts but also our minds in Christ's service.

In this course, I've tried to suggest that we can think outside the modernist/postmodernist box, and be "both-and" people, for whom faith and reason are God-given and avenues to His Truth.

So, here's a "handout" I give my students when I teach Introduction to Philosophy. I hope this will help you see that those who are telling you to fear truth and reason are on thin ice.
Select Scripture on Minds, Reason, Philosophy, Wisdom, Truth, Knowledge

Premodern philosophy has always been about the love of wisdom, and the pursuit of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Traditionally, Christianity has not feared this pursuit, because Christians know that it ultimately lead seekers to God.

It shouldn't be surprising that this infuriates Satan, who is a great counterfeiter. Everything that God has created good, he mocks by presenting an infernal alternate. It should not surprise us that he has done he same thing when it comes to intellectual endeavors, and so he has snared many away for himself. That is why, among many Christians, philosophy and the life of the mind have gotten such a bad reputation. Satan has succeeded, not only in presenting philosophy as a worldly, human activity, but in getting Christians to believe that that is all philosophy is.

However, we can counter Satan’s lies with God’s truth: Jesus Christ wants to capture our minds, and that when He does, the result is Christian philosophy-- a way of thinking that eschews intellectual vice, and which understands Him to be the Way, the Truth and the Life.

A. Is it possible to be a Christian and a philosopher?

Luke 10:27
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.

2 Corinthians 10:55
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Colossians 2:8-10
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy,
which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather
than on Christ. 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ… (implying that there is a philosophy which does not depend on human tradition and worldly principles, but on God’s revelation—both natural and special—and on Christ Himself.)

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (implying there is a perennial l philosophy, and one seeking the wisdom of God)

B. Why should a Christian be a philosopher?

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.

Acts 17:11
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they
received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: ”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind.’

Matthew 22:4 (Jesus poses a dilemma for the Pharisees) “Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ?”

1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

Romans 12:1-2 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Philippians 1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

Acts 17:22 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

Colossians 1:9-13 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Colossians 1:28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Colossians 3:1-21 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

2 Corinthians10:4-5The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians11:1-6 I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. 5 But I do not think I am in the least
inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.

Ephesians 1:17-18  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Ephesians 4:14- 24 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men int heir deceitful scheming. 15 Instead,speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ…17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20 You,however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Philippians 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 4:88 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

1 John 4:5-6  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

2 John 1-4 To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— 2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. 4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us 
3 John 3-4 It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.


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