Keeping truth on the table

You may already be aware of this, but there is a battle raging in the church over the concept of truth. Today we talked about it in a pastoral meeting. The grist we used was the opening part of John MacArthur's book, The Truth War. Although I cannot tolerate MacArthur's propensity to leap into frenzies of "bride-bashing" (criticizing other Christians with unfair tactics and damaging rhetoric), I will hand it to him that he is staking out a place in the debate.

I think the service he provides to the church during this season is that he is keeping the concept of truth on the table. These days a lot of postmodern evangelicals are skittish about using the word 'truth', because it tends to enter the room dragging behind it a motley assortment of modernist baggage. For instance, in an effort to build neatly arranged systems of theology, evangelicals have tended to treat the Bible like a repository of propositions (true-false statements). Indeed, the Bible is full of true-false statements, but it cannot be pushed into a strictly propositional corner. It must be allowed to invoke emotions and provoke personal encounters with God. Postmodernists therefore tend to approach the Bible in a more holistic way, looking for a complex and multidimensional encounter with Scripture. That is why they talk so much about the Bible being story instead of proposition.

Because 'truth' is associated with the propositional approach, many postmodern evangelicals would rather spend time waxing about the story (or stories) of Scripture than debating the propositional content of Scripture. Therefore, they can be a bit evasive when it is time to talk about truth.

MacArthur is not about to put up with evasiveness. He demands that we talk about truth. I don't agree with his approach, and his arguments tend to be inconsistent and full of misrepresentation. But I will grant that he is doing all he can to keep truth on the table of discussion.


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