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The Bible & Truth-Seeking
Are They Compatible?
An Essay on "Common Sense" Christianity
F. Earle Fox
See also The Authority of the Bible in a Scientific Age
Below are Bible passages which show that God insists on an open, honest discussion of the truth about Himself and about His law. That will be a new idea for most Christians who in recent centuries have "traditionally" opposed reason and revelation against each other. In the economy of God, they are wedded. Reason and science will not survive without revelation, and revelation will not survive without reason.
Reason needs revelation because only God can give us a moral order. And science as we know it in the West requires a moral commitment to truth. When there is no moral order, that is, in any world without God, truth-seeking and science will become just more tools in the hands of those conducting the inevitable power struggle. That is what happens under any dictator -- who cannot afford to let people find their own truth, he must impose his own to stay in power. That means he must control education and the media. A free market of ideas committed to the truth is necessary and required for a Biblical civilization.
And revelation needs reason because we must read the Bible reasonably -- or cause confusion. It is a well established principle for interpreting the Bible that one cannot interpret one passage in contradiction to another passage. That is just another way of making the law of non-contradiction mandatory for Bible interpretation. And the law of non-contradiction is the fundamental principle behind all rational discussion. We must be logically consistent.
These passages below express God's view of the matter:
Genesis 18:25 on truth and righteousness
I Kings 18:17 ff. At the command of God, Elijah conducts a scientific experiment to show who is the real God. Elijah appeals to logic ("How long will you go limping on two opinions? If Baal is God, go with him. If the Lord is God, go with Him...") And then an experiment to get the empirical evidence -- (Which deity will show up???)
Isaiah 1:18; 41:21; 42:18 ff.; 43:8 God is inviting an open contest between the pagans and His people as witnesses to the truth ff.; 43:26 ff. ditto; 44:6; 44:9-20; 45:18-19
Micah 6 Plead your case before me. Whether you are right or wrong, I am willing to hear you out.
Malachi 3:6 ff. God says to His people, "put Me to the test..." I.e., I will give you evidence for the truth of my words.
Luke 7:18-23 -- Jesus points to the empirical evidence for believing that He is the Christ. God does that all through the Bible. He does things which only God could do to show people with whom they are dealing. Miracles are empirical evidence.
John 3:19; 7:14-18; 8:12-20; 14:15-16
I Corinthians 14 on speaking in tongues vs. prophesying -- God wants clarity. Clarity always favors truth, unclarity always favors falsehood (from Ayn Rand - an atheist -- Christians ought to be able to do at least as well....!)
2 Corinthians 2:17 God expects intellectual integrity. 4:2 ff. Ditto
I John 1:5-10; 2:4; 4:1;
There are many other examples. And nothing at all to indicate that God disapproves of open, honest truth-seeking. God wants us to bring our questions to Him. Again, Genesis 18:25... Or, Isaiah 1:18.
Truth-seeking is important to God because truth is important to God. That principle is evident all through the Bible. The words 'truth', 'true', etc. occur constantly. Until the 20th century when "relative truth" was invented to camouflage lying, everyone understood that speaking the truth was morally mandatory. People lied, but they knew it was wrong. Satan has invented relative truth to confuse even the elect, if that is possible. (It does seem to be... it is being done daily.)
So one need not apply to Jesus for discipleship unless one is, or wants to be, a truth-seeker. Jesus has nothing to offer but truth. We must be truth-seekers before we can be righteous position-defenders.
The early Church fathers understood the meaning of credible evidence to get the truth, insisting that any candidate for inclusion in the Bible had to be written by someone who was an eye-witness of the Christ event.
Eye witness is at the bottom of every valid scientific conclusion where we find a pile of personal testimonies. Science depends on personal testimonies of those who have committed themselves to truth-seeking, who are schooled to be experts, and morally trained to be truthful. Science is simply common sense paying attention to the details. Science is the careful examination and organizing of the available testimonies. If you are not a truth-seeker, you are not a valid scientist. If you are not a truth-seeker, you are likewise not a valid Christian. And for the same reason. Both Biblical religion and science are about objective truth-seeking, not about relative truth. On the Bible, faith, and truth, see The Authority of the Bible in a Scientific Age.
Only the manipulator and charlatan can benefit by "relative truth". When truth becomes relative, it will soon become forbidden, as, for example, by so-called "hate-crime" laws, which are not meant to protect some abused minority, they are meant to shut down discussion of the issues -- as with homosexuality, or race, or any other volatile subject.
Christians began to fear the rise of science -- that a scientific investigation of the Bible might prove the Bible false. Nevermind that science arose, and could have arisen, only out of the Biblical worldview. Neither the pagan nor the secular world could have brought forth what we know in the West as science -- and none ever did. It was a gift from God to His own people to help the sharpen the two edges of the Sword of the Spirit, the truth spoken in love (see Ephesians 6). But, like the Hebrews about to enter the Promised Land, Christians panicked. "There are giants in the land!!!"
By the grace of God, many Christians are now catching on to the fact that God owns the intellectual (as well as the moral and spiritual) high ground, and that God is inviting us to join Him there. We get to that intellectual high ground only by being truth-seekers before we are position-defenders. Christians are obligated to be among the best scientists and scholars available. When we do, we will change the whole direction of public debate back toward the Biblical worldview and Good News.
So, to answer the title question, the Bible and
truth-seeking are not only compatible, they are mandatory for Christians and
The Fear of
Truth-Seeking and also
Centralized Coercion vs. Limited Government for practical application of these principles.
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Date Posted - 03/14/2012 - Date Last Edited - 10/19/2012