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Truth

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 8 months ago

Truth...

 

One major function of the Church:   Knowing, Guarding and Sharing Truth.

 

One major role of The Church is the proclamation of Truth.

 

Truth is absolute.  Truth does not depend on our opinion about it.

 

By definition, God is absolute Truth.  We are made in His image -- He is not made in our image or a developed perception of our minds.

 

Thus even this page, of course, only reflects our understanding ABOUT Truth -- this page itself is not TRUTH.

 

What is the Church's role then... exactly... re Truth?

 

And how is that playing-out in Indianapolis or other cityreaching movements?  How SHOULD it be playing-out?

 

How would someone objectively MEASURE the level to which Hoosiers cluster around Truth... vs. any kind of 'random' distribution around a set of beliefs?

  • One measure we're interested in, is Barna Research's metric called 'Biblical Worldview'... currently understood nationally to be less than 4% of American adults.

 

 

Collaborative Efforts at Bible Study (and other efforts focused on discerning truth)...

 

 

 

Anti-Truth?

  • (we'll want to list a number of things here, but we need to start somewhere, so here goes...)
  • Evolution  -- said by some to be a 'Fairy Tale for Adults'.

 

 

Proclaiming Truth... Evangelism... optimally sharing the offer of the Good News for our neighbors... by deed & Word.

 

 

 

Related Issue...  "Who's Truth?"

Or "How wide is the circle of faith that SHOULD be 'collaborating'?"  Or... "When does 'unity' mitigate against 'truth'?

 

One practical outworking of this question often comes when the Billy Graham Crusade comes to town.  Or Luis Palau CityFests.  Is there 'too much unity'?  These are all questions not easily answered with any great degree of 'concensus' among Bible-believing ministries.  So let's at least outline some key elements for consideration... in hopes of helping everyone at least have a clear view of the issue... and perhaps someday soon, great concensus...

 

  • Houston seemed to have had a great experience with Palau's CityFest.
  • Omaha seemed to have had a considerable divergence on the issue.  There are some excellent posts there... with comments, and interviews related to the question at hand.  Please review them.
  • Current Lack of Effectiveness... Currently in the U.S... apparently we're doing a poor job at carrying out the Great Commission... ie, Barna Research shows only 4% of American adults hold a biblical worldview.  [So whatever it is we've BEEN doing, needs re-examination through scriptural lenses... and SOMETHING needs to change.  Surely part of that equation is that we the Church need to look more like the unified body of Christ.  But maybe also, as we do that, perhaps we need to more carefully delineate CORE SALVIFIC TRUTH that will lead people to Christ.
  • Does our ineffectiveness mitigate against our theoretical answers to any of the below questions?  That is, unless you & your city are doing exceedingly well in your city, how solid is your platform of answers to all the following questions?  Is your church homogeneous... ie, all white or all black, etc.?  Does that not work against your ability to truly discern God's Truth about unity in the body?  Or at least, doesn't it work against your credibility for effectively carrying out the Whole Commission as designed by Christ?  [Example:  While I may hold a 'reformed' point-of-view, why are there so few innercity churches/pastors who share that view... and yet we see them living out the gospel among 'the least of these'?  Hopefully, it calls us to re-examine our traditional tenets, as we RE-read scripture.]
  • How important is our neighbor's point-of-view?  That is, surely many/most of our neighborhood look across the street and see churches ABC, XYZ, and 123.... thus come to believe their own opinion must also be equally valid... ie, haven't we effectively taught them that truth is relative?  Fact is, there's a huge difference between 'letter-churches' and 'number churches'.... Yet our neighbors don't bother to try to understand that.  To what degree then are we responsible to unify around core-truth, and thus appear more distinctively in the world today, as the true church... and thus our neighbors will someday see the huge difference?  Our fracturedness today surely undermines the gospel, does it not?
  • Core salvific truth is not simply 'Jesus as Savior'... but also 'Jesus as Lord'.  That is, while justification is by faith (alone)... the core truth is that faith is NEVER 'alone' -- that is, our deeds & actions bear out our trust in Christ as Lord of our lives.
  • Pride & Divide... The devil has played his 'pride & divide' scheme on us -- ie, isolating us so we'll demonize everyone not like us.  We lack real understanding of the others, or thinking things through, soundly.
  • Dig Deeply... Each of us should delve down deeper and deeper in scripture, studying diligently... and reaching conclusions that 'we believe'.... but...
  • Humility... Each of us are imperfect... and thus each of us are surely wrong about SOMETHING.  [We just don't know which thing we're wrong about.]
  • Recognize our own LENSE.  Each of us see scripture through the lense of our spiritual gift, our experiences to date (and some of us have more Christian experience than others).  Point is, these things lead us to somewhat different conclusions.
  • Humility... should cause us all to back off being too dogmatic about too much too quickly.  "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
  • Trusting & confessing that "Jesus is Lord."...  (and acts of faith will tend to reflect what we really believe in)... is the center-point... Yes?
  • But who is this 'Jesus'?  Is he Satan's brother, as the Mormon Church teaches?
  • Unity of the Trinity... The doctrine of the unity of the body of Christ (the Church) is related to the doctrine of the Trinity (John 15?  John 17?).  So we must be careful.  To distance oneself too far from the doctrine of 'unity' is to distance oneself too far from the Jesus they profess.
  • Shed our natural spirit of independence?  Consider if the 'good ol American spirit of independence' might have led us too quickly to a purely INDIVIDUALISTIC approach to the gospel -- ie, that "it's just between Jesus & me, and there is no significance to the corporate nature of the Church".  Yet which of us came to Christ simply on our own... without any influence or actions of someone else?  NONE of us.  We heard the gospel very much because of others.  And clearly scripture teaches about the importance of the body of Christ.  God Almighty, the all-powerful God, did not NEED to love human beings.  Yet the inigma is... that His nature is self-sacrificing... thus He loves those He has no need to love.  And He calls us to emulate Him and do likewise.  Thus our response to the gospel MUST BE that we operate in a corporate body of Christ.  While the body of Christ does not save us, we are not saved without it either.  We are drawn by the Holy Spirit... yet 'worked-into-the-kingdom' through the body of believers.  Point being:  the teaching about the body of Christ is very much related to the Gospel.
  • Unity amid diversity... the Multicultural Church?  Unity among the multi-racial, multi-generational, multi-ethic, multi-linguistic body of Christ -- let me simply call this the multicultural Church -- is a testimony to Christ's testimony (according to John 17).  The gospel is significantly impaired by a lack of unity among diversity.
  • Tolerance?  But is that tolerance of any & every thing?  Not.
  • Scriptural teachings against 'division'?  Further, the writing of the apostle Paul clearly teach against division... and the following of this person or that person.
  • Geo-Church?   Scripture only mentions divisions GEOGRAPHICALLY.  [click for more discussion of the geo-Church]
  • Scriptural teachings about separation?  Scripture clearly teaches against FALSE teachers, etc. -- That is, there clearly is a separation of the true body or Christ and those teachers that are teaching 'some other gospel'... ie, apostate.  Yes?
  • No denomination is monolithic... ie, uniform throughout its constituency.  They may have founding principles to which they say they ascribe... but reality is that every person does not necessarily ascribe to them in full.  Nor every congregation within a denomination.  Thus perhaps we should not try so hard to categorize particular congregations... unless absolutely necessary.  However, the congregation we attend may be a clue to what we truly believe -- so it is a tip-off, perhaps.
    • Practical application (?)... Whether Baptist, Presbyterian, or Catholic... all congregations are very different... some very far astray of the the central teachings of scripture... some closer than others.  And what shall we think of clergy in some denominations being more 'liberal' in their theology than their constituency?  Or priests with a vested interest in the Catholic Church... versus many Catholics who understand the gospel almost identical to some Protestants?
  • Even the cityreaching movement is not monolithic.  Each city will have different expressions of it.  And within a city, we have different functions.  Some of those functions... eg. feeding the hungry... may reflect different constituencies participating.  Example:  Perhaps very much because of their belief-systems, some churches may be vigorous about feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless.  Our community governments hopefully are working hard in this function too -- so should we never have anything to do with civic groups who share some of our objectives?  Wisdom will help us know to what degree we will connect/communicate with others NOT sharing our interest in the gospel.
  • Would a functional delineation also apply to key spiritual processes... like praying together?  Preaching the gospel 'together'?
  • Teaching people INTO the kingdom?  Or not?  Might we somehow eventually conclude that a key consideration is... Are you more likely to teach people INTO the Kingdom... or distract them til they die and go to hell?
  • Practical Questions:
    • And what are the practical outworkings of all this... when it comes, say, to "appearing on the platform together"?  What if government calls the meeting?  What if we call the meeting?  What if an apostate church calls the meeting?
  • Apostate?   Is there a difference between cults & apostate churches?
  • Secular?  Faith-based?  Is there a difference between civic government (or secular nonprofits, or 'faith-based' nonprofits) and apostates?
  • Priorities... Does our 24-hour day limitation pretty much help us determine our priorities?  That is, while we might in some instances work with certain churches to do certain things, the fact remains that we need to spend our time as productively as possible.  [Thus 'distraction' plays a key role here to be considered.  Paul asked his brothers to pray that the gospel spread RAPIDLY.  Are we doing that?  Is it spreading rapidly?  Maybe our attention is spread too thinly.  Or maybe our view too narrowly... thus limiting our effectiveness.]
  • Is Leadership a different issue?  Is there ONE answer to all this?  Is 'leadership' called to a different level of unity than the general body of Christ in a city?
  • How much grace?  How 'wrong' can a person or group be, and still be given great grace -- similar to the grace Christ has shown many of us?  [Yet recall, He sends many to hell for their outright rejection of Truth.]
  • Pure & simple religion... per scripture... Isn't it the conduct of doing simple self-sacrificing acts that God considers valuable?  Taking care of widows, orphans, homeless, etc.?  Yet obedience is better than sacrifice, He says.  What is the simple 'both-and' answer?
  • What about these catch-phrases....
    • "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity"?  At what can it become a cop-out?
    • Or to what degree shall we try to simply "agree to disagree" -- is that a biblical concept?
    • Or what about 'remove the log from your own eye before trying to remove the splinter elsewhere'?
    • Or what shall we think of this statement... "Doctine divides" ?  How does that relate though, to the scriptural teaching that Christ Himself divides, and the Word of God divides truth and marrow?
  • Study to show yourselves approved... If truth is as important as we say it is, what FORUMS might we build together as a cityreaching movement, to (in love and zeal for Christ and His Church) STUDY TOGETHER, trying to better be the Church and do what the Church is charged to do, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood?
  • Easy to work together at first?  Consider:  Given our apparently very LOW amount of biblical understanding and uninimity (4%)... and a very SMALL percentage of folks who have actually READ the Word of God... might we conclude that we have a LONG way to go, to spread His Word among our friends & neighbors... thus a 'first step' may be easy to decide... Or is it?   Practical Question:  If given an opportunity to work together citywide to distribute God's Word to every man, woman, child... would we work together with groups who, say, also teach from some other 'authoritative' book (say the book of Mormon)?
    • Or how about this practical question:  "Would you participate in an open, Bible study in YOUR neighborhood... even if started by a cult member?"   [Perhaps this speaks to our responsibility to speak the truth-in-love into certain situations.]   If your neighborhood knew almost NOTHING of the gospel, would your answer to this question be different than if your neighborhood was already well aware of the gospel offer?]
  • Apostle's Creed... as a rule-of-thumb?  Does it express the gospel... "the whole gospel and nothing but the gospel"?
  • Statements of Faith... Let's link to some key 'Statements of Faith'... at least as reference-points for now as we sort all this out over time.  Or should we, grapple with writing (say here in our wiki) a clear, working-document delineating of what the Bible teaches the gospel is?  Thus available publicly, referenceable by any & all participants?  To date, here's the clear writing of the statement of faith for those of us involved with Transform Indiana -- it's a version that's very close to that of Mission America Coalition.   [But we've yet to build a 'covenant' together... Should we?  Might that help us move forward more easily/quickly?]   Note:  Interestingly, we've noted that it's sometimes a vicious circle trying to develop a statement of common purpose & principle -- it's hard to know the common purpose if we don't yet know the principles we share; yet it's also hard to know who'll stick with the group, til they each know what the purpose of the group is.  But some where/how, we have to land on both answers at the same time so we can move forward.]
  • New opportunity via the Internet paradigm-shift... not unlike the reformation?  Does the INTERNET give us a new opportunity to readily make known our own statement of faith, including a public statement of our understanding of the wider body of Christ in our community.  And might it offer a new ability to even actively DEMONSTRATE that interconnectivity via linking... and doing collaborative websites TOGETHER in our city?   [eg... our city-wiki sites here... or external sites such as IndyChristian.com?
  • What level of adherence... to even such a clear writing as this, be required of participating ministries & individuals?   Should we 'covenant together'?  Might this help crystalize our thinking?  Or reach a wrong conclusion too early?
  • Our natural (fallen) propensities... of man toward pride, individualism, self-righteousness, etc... which displays itself in all sorts of ways?
  • Our vested interests... that preclude us from being objective & scriptural?  What about church history so far?  What if some of us (each of us?) are soooo vested in the success of one outcome or another, that we can't even logically sift through all this?  Illustration:  What if some clergy are so outspoken to-date re, say, a reformation worldview that they simply cannot linger to discuss any of the above with non-reformed clergy?  Or what about mainline clergy who are so tightly tied to apostate denominations that they really cannot be objective, much less leave such denominations?
  • Team-building... How important is it, that we take some amount of time for TEAM-building... among the core-team... even before we start trying to teach the whole city?  Point is, since it's highly likely that this isn't going to resolve itself overnight, how important is it that we take a little longer to get the RIGHT TEAM TOGETHER... than it is for us to immediately start doing the (say) pragmatic approaches immediately?  [eg. Palau CityFests]  Or on the other hand, might a certain amount of immediate collaboration help find & connect the team... and then sharpen our understanding of the importance of connecting the RIGHT TEAM?  Maybe this is a 'both-and' question/answer.  What say you?  Might different cities be at different stages... and thus come up with different (GODLY) answers?
  • Here's our "WHO?" wiki-page of the many bible-believing ministries involved in some form of 'cityreaching'. 
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  • What OTHER key questions or issues come to mind that we should consider... and perhaps someday work deliberately on resolving in OUR community?  And who/how would we go about such a forum? 

 

 

Stray thoughts, links, questions, ideas...

 

 

 

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