On Personal Truth
Mon 31 October 2016
Our Senior Pastor John Mullen talked one Sunday during communion about the distance between head and heart and that it is absolutely crucial to transform the truths which we have only in our head to those which are in our heart, and which are the only ones which actually drive our behavior. He suggested the Lord’s Supper as one God-given tool for surmounting them. I completely agree with him. The Lord’s Supper is one mighty tool we were given for this purpose.
However, I don’t think it is the only tool. Yes, knowledge limited to our head will not save us, unless it gets down to our hearts and thus truly to our lives. However, it often feels from many evangelical teachings that the solution for the lack of heart-knowledge is to increase our head-knowledge. I think it often goes much deeper than that. I think we need to get down to find out more what prevents the content of our head to get down to our heart.
[...] and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -- John 8:32 (NET)
It may be a presumption, but I would add here to the Biblical text “and ONLY the truth shall make you free.”
Postmodern philosophy is often accused (a bit unfairly I would think, but that’s another topic) that its basic tenet is that everybody had their own truth. It is certainly nonsense, if it means that there is no single objective truth and what matters are only diverging opinions. However, despite disagreeing with this, I don’t think we should throw away this statement as such. In fact, I believe we all have own personal “truths,” set of things we truly deeply believe in, they are just so. This set is product of our upbringing, education, experiences, etc. These are truths for which we are truly willing to put down (to use the Czech medieval phrase) our throat, honor, and estate, or at least we know we should (if we were not such cowards).
The Lord is both kind and fair; that is why he teaches sinners the right way to live. [...] The Lord always proves faithful and reliable to those who follow the demands of his covenant. [...] The Lord shows his faithful followers the way they should live. [...] The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.
—Psalm 25:8-14 (NET)
Yes, plenty of the truths we believe in are wrong. After all each of us, who did not grow up in the faith, had once as one of those heart truths a belief that God does not exist. Of course, I do believe that the best (if not only) measure of our faith and life is the revelation of God. Plenty of these truths we got wrong, we misunderstood what God meant to tell us, we are influenced by our surroundings, wounds, our pride and sin. So, we have to continue to educate ourselves, to eliminate error from our thinking, look for new revelation, to be humble concerning our understanding of the world. Yet, I still believe He reveals to each of us all we need to follow Him and do His will.
These are truths for which we are responsible, and these (personal, heart) truths are the ones by which we will be judged. We are not responsible for understanding everything, but for what has been already revealed to us. We are responsible for bringing these truths to action, we are responsible for preserving them, we are responsible for sharing with our neighbors, and defending them against their opponents even upon that “throat, honor and estate.
However, there is also other side of this, and here we get to that distance between our head and heart. I believe we are also responsible for not confessing truths which have not been revealed to us. Did we ever confess anything just because it was the easy way out of the situation, because we wanted to be accepted, because we were afraid? If we did, I believe we were blunting our judgement to discern the truth, we were actually lying. We live in the middle of the secular world, and even in the Church we live amongst sinners. When was the last time we stood up and said that what is commonly believed or what we are pushed to confess is not true or we just don’t believe it? When was the last time when hearing a sermon you said to yourself (you don’t have to create a protest movement) “this is not the Father I know”, or “I don’t think I believe this”? If we accept any junk which the world throws at us, we cease to be able to recognize the truths we actually should hold as our own.