At the turn of the millennia, in the eleventh century and for the next five hundred years, there were reformers within Christianity who stood up and refused to be comforted by the Christianity that they had been given. It started fairly slow, at least when you regard that there are only a few names until about the sixteenth century that fall into this stream. One after another, these men defied the Catholic overlord, and even while some still desired to honor that Catholic root that they had been so devoted to, they were all deemed as heathens and rebels at the least, damnable heretics at the worst.
It is a misrepresentation to claim that these who rose up in severe adversity did so because the Bible was being misinterpreted. Another grave mistake is considering that these were heralds of the poor and oppressed. While both of these might indeed have been something that the reformers were passionate about, the secret of their defiance grew out of something else. There was a different “truth” that they stood upon. Scripture and doctrine were indeed very important, and of course the great solas of the reformation are heralded to this day by Protestants. More than Scriptural truth, however, was the love of Him who claimed, “I am the truth”. Beyond the reformers were the radical reformers, later called the Anabaptists, who simply wanted to live like Jesus in their own generation. Whether they got everything correct, or understood everything, is debatable, but the groundbreaking and radical position these ones took was far beyond what either the Catholics or the Protestants could bear.
To conclude our discussion of truth, I had in mind of discussing the word of truth, mentioned in Psalm 119, Daniel 10:21, and a couple places in the New Testament. I wanted to examine the way truth is mentioned in the eschatological passages, such as Daniel 8:10-12. Yet, I found myself unable to do so, because such a dissection of an important subject would lead to the subject being exactly that: a subject. You don’t dissect a living frog; you have a dead frog that you cut to pieces. And once the frog is cut to pieces, you might be able to mention a lot of fascinating things about the inner workings of the frog, but that frog can never be brought back together again. Truth, whether in a general sense, or in a specific narrow discussion of a connotation of the word, should never fall to such a discussion.
For a theology book, the discussion of truth has incalculable benefit, simply because we claim that the statements that we are believing are true. Yet, are the statements true because they are fact, or are they true because they are tangible? When we talk about anything within theology, we are talking about something real that we’ve all experienced, and thus we have something to talk about in connection with one another. To be led by the truth in theology is not to be led into all understanding, as many Pentecostals and Charismatics would like to believe. It is to be led into all experience with the truth. Salvation is a real thing, and not merely a doctrinal stance. While there are many discussions of how things work within theology, the leading of the Spirit into all truth is about having that relationship with these things in reality, and not in intellectualism.
As we continue into bibliology for our next unit and onward into other aspects of theology from there, let us not forget that our love is not of “truths”, but of the truth. May our zeal not be in something that we hold to doctrinally, and the tradition of our fathers handed down to us, but rather let our zeal be in truth according to knowledge. And let that knowledge be as Paul would express it in 2 Corinthians 4:6, that it isn’t merely “knowledge”, but the knowledge of the glory of God shown in the face of Jesus. Our fellowship with truth is only found in the fellowship we have with Christ our Lord. May that be our pillar and our anchor, and whether we attempt to understand the deeper aspects that are so nuanced that you can barely detect such an understanding, or whether we remain at the foundational level, may in both cases we do all of our studies unto the glory of God forever, amen.