Sunday, January 20, 2008

Discovering truth--Choosing to do God's will

One of the major differences in today's world and that of the Enlightenment era is how people come to discover and acknowledge truth. Rene Descartes, one of the fathers of the Enlightenment, based truth upon thinking. His famous phrase is, "I think, therefore I am." In the Enlightenment worldview, one knows truths through thinking, accepts truth through thinking, and only then moves towards action.

In today's culture, truth is approached much differently. People are more likely to accept truth through experience than through accepting intellectual propositions. This is in part due to the failure of all of this great "thinking" to produce consensus, bring about peace, or engender unity. Experience is all that can really be trusted or believed. "Theories" are just that, theories. No scientific method or "hermeneutic" has produced clear, unequivocal results which everyone can agree upon. So what one is left with is one's own experience.

Many Christians have been afraid to jetison the old approach of "proving" our faith through propositions (three point, deductive sermons, "steps" of salvation, etc.). However, experience is just a valid way to discover truth. Jesus said, "17 If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own."

In other words, we can know the truth of Christianity by trying it out. We can discern God's will by living the Christian life.

So if we are trying to "discover" truth, discover God, then we need to not just sit around and intellectualize this. This might mean that you could:
  • Join a discipleship group--and discover the friendship and joy that comes through this.
  • Become a sacrificial giver who gives at least 10%--and see if God blesses your life.
  • Love and forgive your spouse--and see if this is really a better way to live.

In addition in sharing our faith today, we need to invite people to serve, live, pray, etc., even before they become a baptized beliver. As they serve, their thinking will be transformed, and they will begin to accept the truth of Christianity.

Do you learn more from thinking or from experience?