It Isn't Ours To Change

I've been thinking a lot lately about truth. Biblical truth to be exact, in this truth-allergic age.

I just finished another edition of the comparative worldviews course I teach at George Fox University, and this group of adult students was interesting. They were a very bright and active group and they had a wide variety of beliefs. And just like a lot of people these days, this group really struggled with the idea of truth. I mean, really struggled. Many of them just couldn't get their heads around the idea that any one way of looking at the world might be more accurate than the other ways. In other words, these intelligent and hard working people just couldn't understand how one view of life - any view - could be true.

But many Christians seem to be in the same boat. Truth just doesn't compute these days, and maybe that's what so many evangelical Christians are responding to. There seems to be this all out rush to redefine Christianity; to get our truth-allergic world to see Christianity as not "truthy." We're pouring forth a nearly endless stream of books, blogs, and videos proclaiming "Hey! Check us out! Jesus is allergic to truth as well!"

Increasingly, Christians are down on the church, down on doctrine, and down on religion (even though that's what following Jesus is, contrary to popular opinion). These days we love questions, but we hate answers. We celebrate ignorance (mistaking it for humility), and despise knowledge. We're up on the journey, but down on the destination. In fact, it is now so popular to bash religion within Christian circles that one of the quickest ways to become influential with today's Christian generation is to write criticisms of theology, church, and Christianity itself.

What is this all about? Christians working hard to define themselves as not Christian? This isn't crazy, we're assured. In fact we're told that Jesus himself was down on truth and religion. We have drunk deeply at the well of this idea. for example, I recently saw a Christian describe their faith by saying "I rejected Christianity in order to follow Jesus."

Huh? Respectfully friends, I think we're confused.

It's one thing to critique how we run our churches, do our theology, and practice our religion. There is much to critique, as I've written here and here for example. To a point this is healthy - even necessary. But often I think we're identifying the wrong problem. Whatever the church's faults, being the church and standing for revealed truth are not among them. We're constantly taught the value of truth (Proverbs 23:23), of sound doctrine (Titus 2:1), and of the word of God (Matthew 5:17-18). And we're taught that Jesus is the Lord and head of the church (Ephesians 4:15-16), so apparently whatever its faults, it means something to him.

And that's what I'm really driving at, and what I think so many Christians these days are missing. To follow Jesus means to follow him his way. To be a part of his kingdom means he is the king. He makes the rules, calls the shots, and determines what matters. Being his follower means learning to accept this from him whether we like it or not. Actually, it means more than that: it means learning to like it too.

Our efforts to redefine Jesus as non-truthy and following him as non-religious are not only misguided, they are also overstepping our bounds. We're not free to change Christianity. It is the Way of Jesus. It is living life by his rules, traveling the road he marked out, for his glory. If we abandon this road, we have abandoned him.

We can't change Christianity. It isn't ours to change.


Aaron said...

I think the difference is this: when we critique the church and Christianity, we are sometimes mistakenly critiquing truth rather than the people trying to follow the truth.

See, on one hand there's truth (God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, His Word, and His ways) and on the other hand there's us. His ways and His truth stand firm in Who and what they are; our ways do not. It is us that must change, not Him and certainly not His ways.

Ultimately, we need to realize this distinction clearly and reject human ways of doing things as just that - they're not God's ways. Simultaneously, though, we need to also recognize His ways and embrace those, despite the image or cost to ourselves. Isn't that what Jesus did?

Crown of Beauty said...

This post is deep, Matt. I agree with everything you wrote. Where there are no absolutes, then there is no sin. This I believe is the bottomline of all the anti-God, anti-Christian sentiment now prevailing all over the world. People don't want to be confronted with truth, they no longer want things spelled out in black and white. They're okay with shades of grey.

I remember the Monkees, a popular band during my high school days, had a beautiful song, Shades of Grey. Some the lyrics go this way: It was easy then to tell right from wrong, easy then to tell weak from strong, when a man should stand and fight, or just go along...but today there is no day or night...dark or or white...only shades of grey. I remember when the answers seemed so clear...we had never lived with doubt or tasted was easy then to tell truth from lies...the foolish from the wise...

I really loved this song even then, and it came to mind because it speaks of the very things you wrote about in this post.

We all need a standard that doesn't change. This is the only way we can be secure. If there is no right and wrong, then the result is anarchy.

Today more than ever, we need to be faithful ambassadors of the kingdom we represent. My heart breaks at the prospect of people blindly choosing the wide road to eternal damnation. Yes, today more than ever, prophetic intercession is needed, and more creative and relevant ways of presenting Truth in today's language.

That is why I think cyberspace is such an effective way to do this. Our blogs can be used as redemptive tools to regain valuable territory - namely the hearts and minds of people.

You are one such redemptive voice in the wilderness that we live in.

Praying for you.


Matt Guerino said...


Yes, I think that's a useful distinction. The trouble with many Christians who have been influenced by Postmodern assumptions these days is that they don't draw the line between truth and practice where it should be drawn. They have mis-read history and concluded that clear objective statements of truth are not real Christianity, but are rather a relic of Modernism and Rationalism. They think Reason is a parasite to a relationship with Jesus, and that this parasite didn't set in until about 300 years ago. They are wrong, but they don't know that. So they fight rational theology and clear statements of truth thinking that such things are arrogant and contrary to the heart of Jesus.

Of course it doesn't help that many truth-oriented Christians come across as arrogant. This feeds the mis-perception, but it doesn't justify it. The fact is Jesus and the apostles laid out a Christian faith that is based on "sound doctrine." We are not free to change it and still call it Christianity!

Matt Guerino said...


I value your prayers!

We do certainly starve spiritually for lack of truth. Many have taken the path of following Jesus and made it into the quest for a spirituality that "works for us." They don't realize that this robs Christianity of all its power to change us into the image of Christ. With no fixed truths there is no destination for which we strive. Even the Monkees knew that!

I appreciate your affirmation - should God deign to use anything I write or speak in the lives of others, I will die a fulfilled man.

Judith said...

"Truth allergic," "Me-World" (from another post). I love these word pictures! I have clicked on "contrary to public opinion" and "there is much to critique 'here' and 'here.'" My wee brain is over taxed as your thoughts are challenging and informing but my heart is full as I also hear your passion for the kingdom.

I have enjoyed the comments of others left on these posts that I have read tonight. Fine thinkers. I continue to learn from all of you "youngsters." Thanks, dear. Try as I might, I just can't come up with a better thought than Lidj's Monkey music!

Love to you,

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