293

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

The original Fundamentalists were so known for their defense of the “Fundamentals” of the Christian faith.  They needed defending (and still do).  Some of their defenders even embodied them.  Others sadly defended the truth about Christ in a decidedly un-Christlike manner, and they bequeathed their reputation to the movement and the the connotations attaching to its name.  If only we could recapture what was right about fundamentalism without bringing along the unfortunate baggage they added!  Could this sonnet be a start?

J. Gresham Machen–a Fundamentalist who avoided the movement’s pitfalls

THE RISE AND FALL OF PROTESTANT FUNDAMENTALISM

Christ’s virgin birth, His deity, His cross,

His Word, His resurrection, His return:

Could these be given up without the loss

Of Christian faith itself?  was the concern

Of those first known as “Fundamentalist.”

If their descendants’ words have proved uncouth

As if their mind had closed up like a fist,

At least they started caring for the Truth.

It’s one of mankind’s greatest tragedies

Beyond the power of the tongue to tell,

This hardening of mental arteries

Within a movement that began so well.

What they forgot should be like hand in glove:

Truth is not Truth unless we speak in love.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

6 thoughts on “293

  1. “Truth is not truth unless we speak in love”. This is nonsense. Truth is always truth no matter how it is proclaimed! Even if Satan himself utters the truth it is still truth. And no-one has ever accused Satan of speaking or doing anything in love. Now I am not justifying the disgraceful method some have used to express the truth. It may make the truth less appealing to its hearers. But it is still the truth, assuming it is biblical truth that is being delivered. Judged by the standards of today’s culture Jesus, John the Baptist, and the Apostle Paul were guilty of hate speech. “You are of your father the devil…”. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good when you are evil?” “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”. I can’t help but think that the recipients of such strong invectives must have viewed such speech as something other than “love” speech. Now one can correctly respond by saying that each of these speakers was actually speaking in love despite the harshness of their phrasings. But then we get into the sticky business of knowing the motivations of the hearts of others.

    1. I think you are missing the point. Truth not spoken in love is truth with emotional nuances and subtones that hinder its reception and subtly change it into something else. It may still be factually correct, but that is a secular and sub-biblical definition of truth. The root meaning of both emeth (Heb) and aletheia (Grk) is faithfulness. But mere faithfulness to the facts is a reductive and secular and sub-biblical notion of truth. Biblical truth is more, not less. To be truly and fully truthful we must be faithful to the facts in such a way that we are also faithful to God, to His covenant, and to our neighbor.

      Jesus and the apostles spoke hard truths, and spoke them plainly. There is a time for that, a time when it is the only loving thing to do.

      1. I think you are missing my point. I think there is more danger, particularly in our current culture, of falling prey to the practice of sculpting and molding truth into a palatable commodity than there is the danger of hindering the acceptance of truth by the uncompromising exposition of it. The practice of quoting Scripture out of context, reading unintended meanings into text, carefully avoiding politically incorrect passages of Scripture, all done to soften the harsh blow of the gospel to the lost, is reprehensible. This kind of engineered “truth”, often apparently motivated by the desire to “speak the truth in love”, is certainly “sub-biblical”.

        I’m having trouble with the concept of the “sub-biblical definition of the truth” that you describe. This seems almost an oxymoron. A woman is either pregnant or she is not pregnant. She is either one or the other. There is no intermediate state. The same is true for truth. If something is sub-biblical then by christian definition it is not truth.There is not a spectrum of truth ranging from absolute falsehood to absolute truth with varying degrees of truth along the spectrum. A partial truth is a lie.

        In order to identify something as being sub-biblical we first have to know its biblical counterpart. The biblical definition of truth that most readily comes to my mind is that given by Jesus in His high priestly prayer where He says, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”. And again when He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”. God’s word, both in the written and incarnate form, is truth.

        I really don’t think we are that far apart in our views of this issue as might seem on the surface. We are just each emphasizing different bookends that encase a unified truth. You emphasize the biblical injunction to speak the truth in love. I am advocating the requirement that the whole counsel of God be proclaimed to a lost world without omissions and amendments regardless of the hostile reception that Jesus told us to expect. With careful attention both goals can be accomplished.

        1. I agree that the danger you cite is real. But God expects more from us than fleeing one error by falling into the opposite. And I agree with your last paragraph here as well. May both goals be accomplished indeed!

      2. I intended to bring up the biblical example of Jonah. It has always been interesting to me that Jonah delivered God’s word to the city of Nineveh with bitter resentment and reluctance. It is clear from the account that there was no love in Jonah’s heart for the citizens of that city. His wish was that they would perish. Yet God used Jonah’s preaching to convert the whole city. God accomplished His purposes despite the unwilling, improperly motivated messenger. This is certainly no biblical warrant for Jonah’s style of preaching. But it seems the people of Nineveh repented under the influence of what you might regard as “sub-biblical truth”.

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