8Apr '14

Voting on the Truth

A friend of mine said on Facebook today,

Feelings of people, are always superseded by Scripture. We don’t ask groups to vote on the truth, Jesus is the truth! It doesn’t matter how many people believe something is right, if Scripture says it’s wrong then Jesus doesn’t endorse it. Love speaks the truth. ‘Go, and sin no more’

Here’s how I replied:

I think you’d be absolutely right if Scripture were a Systematic Theology textbook – we could turn to page 124 and say, “look, here, it says that Jesus is of one substance with the Father, fully God and fully human in incomprehensible hypostatic union”. The historical Church reached that conclusion, based on debate about what the Bible says – debate that was guided I believe by the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. So views like that of Arius (which broadly persists today in Jehovah’s Witnesses) were rejected – rightly, we would say – by discussion and debate. Other issues have been dealt with in a similar way – even which books we consider as part of the canon of Scripture itself were debated and, to a point, agreed upon.

What I’m saying is that doctrines which seem obvious to us now from the Bible only seem that way because of the work of our forefathers in the faith who, guided by the Holy Spirit, identified which questions were fundamental to a right relationship with God, and which answers to those questions were correct – through discussion and debate.

Occasionally that process hasn’t produced consensus, but “such as sharp disagreement that they parted company”, as it did for Paul and Barnabas! However (assuming that 2 Tim 4:11 is talking about the same Mark that they disagreed about), eventual reconciliation seems to be something God is very much interested in bringing about!

So, bringing all that to today, there are obviously still many things that the Capital-C Church still disagrees about. Our positions as individuals and as tributaries of that great river seem right to us, obvious even – but it is the same for others. Undoubtedly there are, on some of these issues, answers that are outrightly false – but determining which questions matter, and which answers are valid, is I believe a job for the Church of today, which, enabled by the Holy Spirit, it will accomplish, through respectful discussion and debate.

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