THE GODYSSEY AND THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH
By Eddie Browne (2009)
Truth has a way of making itself known . . . eventually. Unfortunately, the path to acceptance is typically fraught with resistance. When first revealed, truth is mocked. When it refuses to yield, it is attacked. Since truth will never die, in time it is adopted. Tragically, acceptance of truth often metastasizes into that devious condition known as the status quo, and it is that same status quo which becomes the staunch opponent of future truth. In concert with this dynamic is an even more subtle and deceptive one: Basing truth upon majority opinion, especially when done so by leaders.
For centuries the Christian community has de facto maintained the view that majority opinion equals truth. In theological terms this is known as orthodoxy. Teachings and insights that fall well outside theological orthodoxy have been declared heresy. When seen in the light of God’s day, however, much of this so-called heresy has actually been a new unfolding of truth.
Many of those who have spoken out either against or contrary to orthodoxy have paid a severe price, sometimes with their lives, and those whose teachings have withstood the onslaught of orthodoxy have become enshrined in the annals of Christian history as being deeply spiritual individuals who possessed great faith and courage.
Such teachings, though, have then tended to become part of orthodoxy, and in this capacity have been used as the grounds for attacking others who have later presented additional, fresher insights into spiritual truth. One practice that specializes in such attacks, under the guise of “defending the faith,” is Christian Apologetics. In reality, though, what is being defended is majority opinion.
This raises a fundamental question: What makes anyone think that majority opinion forms any basis whatsoever for determining truth, especially spiritual truth? In reality, an honest examination of the institutional, personal, and interactive forces at work among those who claim to be defending the faith exposes an array of very human and very flawed dynamics, pressures, and motives that have nothing to do, per se, with the pursuit of truth. And this characterization includes your Bible translations.
There does not currently exist a single widely-used English Bible version that is not seriously - emphasis on seriously - inundated with outright translation errors, watered-down word meanings, under-translation, and theological bias. Read that sentence again.
These defects are present because of the same human, flawed dynamics, pressures and motives that plague orthodoxy in general, and they have kept truth imprisoned even while they have allowed misinformation and the misrepresentation of God to run rampant.
Yet the overwhelming majority of Bible-believing Christians have come to accept and trust these same erroneous Bible versions not only as truth, but as THE infallible Word of God. Even worse, most Christians have consistently allowed others to tell them what their allegedly infallible Word of God says.
Worst of all, however, is the fact that inferior translation work, accompanied by a theological method that consists of nothing more than human logic and philosophy, which are then blended with a few typically mistranslated proof texts so as to render the result “biblical,” has become the primary foundation upon which most Christian doctrine and practice stand. As a result, such skewed doctrine and practice have reproduced a mixture of error, tainted motives, elitism, shallowness, and very little genuine love for God and mankind on the part of many, many Christians.
Virtually all of orthodox, Bible-centered teaching is built upon these shaky pillars, and very few Christians bred within this teaching are sufficiently open-minded to grant the possibility that such could be the case.
At the core of this close-mindedness is the regrettable fact that most Christians are not truth seekers. They do not examine; they do not question. They assume; they simply accept. They possess neither the courage nor the hunger to pursue the truths of either Life or life. Theirs is a comfortable, fairly protected mindset . . . until the harsh vagaries of life impact them like a runaway train, leaving their minds, hearts, and faith reeling with newfound challenges and newfound doubts.
One particular problem most Christians face is that their spiritual future has been painted in a very simple manner: You die; you go to heaven; end of story. Who cares that the biblical narrative never really ends? Why be bothered with such a basic question as, “Then what?” What’s wrong with taking the tidy, short-term view that places all the spiritual eggs in the basket of this lifetime?
In this way the concept of a truly long-lasting spiritual journey in God becomes a non-issue. And the mere suggestion that God could be on a journey of His own . . . well, that idea becomes downright ludicrous.
Another problem is that Christians have been taught implicitly - and so they believe - that all the gold of biblical truth has been discovered and safely tucked away inside a tidy theological box. All that remains, then, is to learn the contents of the box. And if a teaching is not from within that box, then the believer is encouraged to reject it as error.
No wonder so many Christians tend not to seek biblical truth. After all, what is the point of pursuing spiritual gold if it has already been unearthed and stored away for safe keeping?
Here is a bit of spiritual reality: God does not fit within some theological box, and precisely like God, truth is not static. Like God, truth needs to be sought; it needs to be newly discovered in an ongoing fashion. When we think we have discovered the truth, we have not; we have merely discovered its beginning; we have merely stepped upon its path; there will always be more.
Contrary to the academic and egocentric attitudes that pervade so much of Christian theology and Bible translation work, we need to approach the pursuit of God first and foremost as a love affair and secondly as a journey of unfolding truth, which unfolding truth can only proceed under the living and loving guidance of the Spirit of Christ.
It is within this process that the concept of a theological box not only becomes a silly notion, it becomes exposed as the outright affront to the very nature of God that it is.
Lest we think we are immune to the influence of a theological box, we should answer these two questions: (1) Do we belong to and, or support at least one Christian institution or organization? (2) Does this institution or organization have what is commonly called a “Statement of Faith”? If the answer to both is yes, then we likely fall prey to the influence of a theological box.
In contrast, careful, original, unbiased translation work and sound, sober theological wrestling, coupled with a dependence upon the Spirit of Christ as Teacher, need to be the essential dynamics in our pursuit of biblical truth. And if what is alleged as biblical truth does not ultimately lead to our knowing God more intimately; if it does not address the issues, questions, and challenges of life and beyond; if it does not provide the basis for a greater reliance upon God, then that alleged truth needs to be revisited.
Truth is meant to propel us into a greater level of intimacy with God by unveiling new insights. This is especially so when it pertains to understanding Who God is and the process whereby He is becoming more of Who He already is. This process is His journey, His Godyssey, and next to God’s essential make-up - His core nature - His Godyssey is the greatest truth of all. Our own journey is wrapped up in His Godyssey. His Godyssey directly and profoundly impacts each of us even as each of us directly and profoundly impacts His Godyssey. And the work of Christ is at the very core of this Godyssey.
Imagine, by the design of His own will God has made His own growth interdependent with ours. God’s interdependence with us is linked to the Spirit of Christ within us, and jointly and separately we are the vessel and vehicle through which God’s journey is unfolding; we are active participants in this incredible process. Such a thought should fill us with awe and thankfulness.
It is indeed a fair statement that no purpose or value in our life approaches in importance the purpose and value held by our role in this process whereby God is becoming more of Himself . . . and our own journey is inextricably linked to God’s becoming more of Himself, to His Godyssey.
In the end, as we allow our minds to open to this and other truth concerning God, and as we explore the depths of such truth, the influential place currently held by theological boxes in our lives will fade away, and the excitement of pursuing truth, as well as the excitement of pursuing our own customized journey in God, will emerge.
And as our spiritual adventure emerges; as the packaged practices and teachings of Christian religiosity that have heretofore entrapped us dissipate, the ever-enriching vibrancy of our oneness with God in Christ will burn within us, challenging our minds with thoughts of Him while driving us into His waiting arms.
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