Our small group met a few days ago and once again enjoyed moments of laughter, food, spiritual discussion and prayer together as we discussed the Gospel of Mark. (Isn’t life together amazing!) At one point, we briefly discussed how we discern truth. One person mentioned that he’s fascinated by comparing how two television channels handle one story so differently. We laughed about this because we know how often that happens.
But it’s also quite tragic. News organization should portray truth clearly and not be biased by the corporations which fund their existence. But our culture has shifted. People increasingly embrace relativism – a belief which states that truth is found in the eye of the beholder. We are now seeing that portrayed within various styles of news reporting.
Now relativism is nothing new. At the end of Judges, “the people had no king and did what was right in his own eyes”
). Relativism. That’s what our western culture is currently embracing. There's nothing new under the sun, so Christians shouldn't freak out by this trend.
However, there is a danger that we should be aware of. If we are not careful, relativism can find its way into our theology. For example, when you hear two contradicting views about a passage of Scripture, how do you discern which is true? To be specific, if one person said, “Jesus is the only way to God”
and another said, “No, there are multiple ways to God,”
what would you do next? Do you embrace two conflicting statements? Do you throw up your hands and say, “We can’t know!”
? Or do you seek to discern truth?
Fortunately, truth is a person. His name is Jesus and He’s very much alive. He has sent his spirit, the spirit of truth (John 16:13
) into those who receive Him. He also has given us the Bible, which is full of truth about our world and our God. Truth can be known! And as we know Him, His Word and His Spirit, he gives us wisdom to ask and seek. Therefore, as we come to the Scripture we should be asking several questions of discernment – in order to weigh truth clams in light of Jesus' life, word and Spirit.
Consider the acronym S.C.R.I.P.T.
1) SCRIPTURE: Are there several other Scripture passages which support this truth claim?
2) CREEDS: How have Christian creeds or Confessions of Faith interpreted this this claim over the centuries?
3) REASONABLE: Is the truth claim reasonable based upon what I know already about God?
4) INTENT: Am I correctly understanding the intention of the human author and the surrounding context?
5) PURPOSE: If I embrace this claim, does it accomplish the Sprit’s purpose in leading me towards Christ-like living?
6) TEACHERS: How have respectable Christian teachers over the centuries interpreted this truth claim?
These questions can help us discern the difference between truth and error in our own Biblical interpretation.
The topic of discernment is always relevant, but it is even more so as students head back into the classroom again. For the sake of disciple-making, I encourage you to talk to the students in your life about how they discern truth before school begins.
We need to be discerning in our day. Let’s keep growing in our understanding of the Truth. Truth can be known!