Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Playdough Scripture 1 John 4:7-8

"Dear friends, let us love teach one another a biblical worldview, for love all truth comes from God. Everyone who loves understands the truth has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love understand truth does not know God, because God is love truth. "

1 John 4:7-8 (Playdough Version)

What is essential?

Having all truth figured out?

Or having God's love?

When someone is new to the faith, what sorts of things do we encourage them to do to grow?

Are these things geared toward gaining an understanding of God's truths, or geared toward growing in God's love?

When we gather, what sorts of activities do we do that build on what is most important to us?

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Steve said...

You really think we should be separating the two (love & truth)? It always seems dangerous and very precarious to me to slice things apart that God intended to work together.

I'm sure that there have been folks from time to time (me included perhaps) that have emphasized truth without love... but it is equally dangerous to emphasize love without truth.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Steve for asking for clarification. No, I'm not suggesting we ignore truth. But I think the truth of Scripture is that Love is essential.

There are many other topics where truth can be examined. But if done without love, it is a gong show.

When I look at topics that tend to be divisive, there are often less than a handful of key verses that each position holds to.

When I look at the topics of love or unity, the volume of clear passages is overwhelming.

From Scripture, it looks most dangerous to emphasize truth without love. I suspect there are many children of God who don't have all truth figured out. But Scripture is clear that if we do not have God's love, we are not His.

So when we get together with other believers... "let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

A good challenge for us all.

Steve said...

I hear ya Jon, and I agree with you. I heard George Sweeting once say: "Truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy". As followers of Jesus, we're called to balance (in all things - including this topic).

I guess one of the concerns I have when I read your "Playdough Scriptures," Jon (this one included) is that almost as soon as I read them (or at least most of them), another passage from the Word pops into my mind that I could use to make exactly the point that it seems you're trying to diminish or emphasize as ludicrous... and so my concern is that you might be misrepresenting the Scriptures and not "rightly dividing the Word of truth..." (and I don't think that's your intent or desire).

Here's a simple example: - Jesus said: "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free" - it does not say: "You will know love and love will set you free." And so I could do a "Playdough Scripture" with that particular verse and it would come across (rightly or wrongly) that love really doesn't matter because this particular passage clearly speaks and proclaims the it's truth that will set you free. I would be completely misrepresenting the Word of God and His heart because as much as truth is critical, so is love... And as I toy with the words of this verse and insert my particular bias to the text (substituting "love" instead of "truth" for the sake of making a point concerning what some people believe), I could easily mislead my readers to erroneous conclusions.

So perhaps a simple and gentle concern/exhortation about your "Playdogh Scriptures"

I appreciate your diligence in your pursuit - keep going hard after our great Treasure -Jesus, Jon!

Jonathan said...

Yes, I share your concern whenever I post these. I know I'd be wrong if someone found a verse that summed up what my playdough verse was saying.

But that is also why I post them. To challenge protestant evangelicals to take another look at Scripture. So thank you for taking a look.

Sorry, I don't see the verse you listed as contradicting the point I'm trying to make.

Are there any verses that say something to the effect that the mark of a Christian is their understanding of biblical truth? That you will know they are a Christian by their answers?

That is why I posted this one. There are a number of verses that speak about love and the fruit of the Spirit being the mark.

I've seen too often believers judging other because of different beliefs. But it seems God's love should be the measuring rod.

The NT gatherings were often called a love feast. Their gatherings were known by what was the essential mark of a believer. The fruit of the Spirit was the visible signs that God was with them. Yes, they would have often studied God's truths too, but it seems God's love was an essential ingredient.

Steve said...

Hey Jon, I just want to be super clear about the fact that I absolutely agree with you, that one of the major marks of the Christian is love! Disagreeing with that was not the intent of my initial post - I just was throwing out a word for balance on this topic.

But since we're into this Jon, let me ask you how you come to the conclusion about love as a mark in the Christian life? How do we know that this is one of the major marks of the Christian life? Isn't it by understanding and embracing the clear teaching of this TRUTH by Jesus and the rest of the Scriptures (like 1 John 4:7-8). And so, another mark of your life as a follower of Jesus, is that you have embraced His teaching and the teachings of His scriptures as truth, that you are basing your life on His teaching of truth. It's what sets a Christian apart from others like, say those of the Baha'i faith, who also emphasize love as the mark of their faith... so God's truth does become a marker of our faith!

When I read: "Dear friends, let us love teach one another a biblical worldview, for love all truth comes from God." and the word "love" has a strikethrough and replaced with the word "truth" I ask myself: "Shouldn't we be teaching one another a biblical worldview?" and "Doesn't all truth come from God?"

I understand the point your making, and I agree that it's a point that needs to be emphasized and that these verses speak undoubtedly to that truth - once again, I agree with you!! But my fear is that you're making your point (at least that's how it could come across) at the expense of truth...

As far as a scripture that would suggest that a mark of the Christian is their embracing of Biblical truth:

"Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth!" 1 Timothy 3:14

One of our roles as the church (that's you and me and every other follower of Jesus), is to be a pillar and foundation of the truth - seems to me that truth is going to be a mark of our lives.

If you're post is referring to Christian infighting about minor non-essentials, you're point is well taken... Love needs to trump these discussions.

If your referring to the universal truths of Biblical teaching though (like Jesus being the only way to the Father, God's love, grace, mercy, love, justice, holiness, wrath, etc.), then truth absolutely is a mark of the Christian and needs to be championed as such.

...in love - really!! :)

Jonathan said...

Thanks Steve. I do appreciate that we agree that both love and truth are essential.

And yes, where the rubber hits the road is determining which truths are considered essential truths.

And yes your logic is solid. I do enjoy studying truth, and that is what has brought me to this conclusion.

One thing I am recognizing is that love and unity are essential truths of Scripture. Likely more essential than most of the issues that have created the many divisions in the Church.

So if someone has wrong understanding of truth how should we respond? Maybe that's where it gets practical. If we don't respond with love we are the ones in the wrong.

To bring this to a personal level. As you've been reading my blog, you likely recognize that I question many traditions and beliefs that many other believers hold on to. I know many brothers who claim Christ is Lord. Yet I see them holding on to beliefs, traditions and divisions that seem contrary to Scripture (from my perspective). Do I judge them, count them as lost, and move on?

In my response, do I value truth over love?

There are so many verses that tell us not to judge our brothers, but to seek love and unity. So I must rest in God's love and wait for truth to prevail in the end.
This doesn't mean I have to be silent or agree with everyone. But I think I must first respond with love.

This verse may help. When love and unity are present, truth and understanding will grow.

Colossians 2:2
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,

Thanks for the respectful and loving dialog. It's been good.