We Don’t Hold the Truth, The Truth Holds Us

Answering, "Who are you to claim you’ve got the one truth for everyone?"

By Tom Gilson Published on November 2, 2017

Arrogance in action: That’s how a lot of people view Christianity these days. “Who are you to claim you’ve got the one truth for everyone?” Their charge against us would be right — if we really thought our truth was true for everyone. Then we would be arrogant indeed. But we don’t. In fact, when we say, “I know the truth,” we’re taking a stance of humility. 

That statement might surprise some people, I know. It’s common in our culture for people to develop their own personal truths about religion and ethics. They build their truths to fit themselves, to make sense for themselves. These “truths” are personal truths. They belong to that one person, so it would be wrong to impose them on others.

But Christians don’t see it that way at all. Our truth is not our own; it’s not personal truth. We don’t create it for ourselves. It’s a reality to be discovered. It’s truth that holds true whether we like it or not. Christians don’t own the truth, we submit to it.

Christians don’t own the truth, we submit to it.

Which Is More Arrogant?

And which is more arrogant: to think we can build our own personal truth, or to submit humbly to one that’s bigger than ourselves?

“But you must have an open mind!” say some. G.K. Chesterton, one of the most sparkling writers of the 20th century, answered that this way: “The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.”

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I’ll illustrate what I’m saying from the life of C.S. Lewis. A firm atheist, he was at Oxford when he decided to study the evidence for God. It led him in a direction he did not choose:

“You must picture me alone in [my] room … night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet… That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me … I gave in and admitted that God was God and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

There was no arrogance in that. There was giving in and admitting. He submitted to something greater than himself.

Contrast that with the idea that we can all develop our own truth. Isn’t that awfully bold? Isn’t it spitting in the face of reality? Isn’t that like saying, “Hey, Reality, step aside! It’s up to me to decide what’s true and what isn’t!”

Who’s being arrogant here?

Christians know that we are constrained by reality. Though we don’t always put it this way, we don’t believe we hold the truth. We believe the truth holds us.

Against the Currents of the Age

It would be so simple to ride with the flow of the age, to relax and let go of the truth about abortion, gay marriage, sexual freedom and so on. We can’t. If we bow before the truth, we must be led by it, even if doing that costs us.

“The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.” — Chesterton

I have spent years studying viewpoints contrary to Christianity. I continue to find that God’s word is solid and nourishing, and ultimately makes more sense than the alternatives. The truth holds me. As Martin Luther said (or was reported to say, at least), “Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders.” (“Here I stand, I can do no other.”)

Recognizing What We Know and Don’t Know

Honestly, I wish the truth held me more. No Christian practices it fully, even as far as he or she understands it. None of us grasps it all. Even the simple commands, to love God fully and to love our neighbor as ourselves, have a depth beyond reaching.

And we don’t always know how to apply it. Our age has come up with new questions that require us to work out anew how God’s word applies. Issues like genetic engineering, genocide, end-of-life decisions and global environmental issues. 

These are all reasons for humility. But we do know the basics. We do see what’s really there. It would arrogant for us to deny that. I’m reminded again of Chesterton: “What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place,” he says.

Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert — himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt — the Divine Reason.

He’s encouraging believers to be confident of the truth we know.

A Very Good Truth

Now if we’re submitting to the truth, does that mean we’re stuck in some dark corner where there’s no freedom to move? Not at all! C.S. Lewis also wrote of Joy (he always capitalized it) that led him toward Christ and flowed out of his relationship with God.

The truth in Christ is not some cold, abstract principle, but a Person of infinite love and grace. The Bible tells us to “speak the truth in love,” and clearly implies that we should smile when we speak it.

We can smile because we’re inviting people to encounter reality. Not their own reality, but real reality.  For it is what it is, not what anyone makes it up to be.

And it is a very good reality we’re inviting all to see, to acknowledge and to enter into. We’re inviting all to let go of your made-up “truths,” and let this real truth, this good truth, hold you.


Adapted from an article originally published at Thinking Christian. Used by permission.

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  • Hmmm…

    Absolutely. Wonderful; going to go back over a few more times. All good; all true; thank you!
    Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

    • Kathy

      And, yes, to the Jew first, as Michael Brown wrote in his most recent article “10 Theses on the Reformation”.

  • Linda

    I love reading anything with C.S. Lewis quotes, and the quote about the night of his conversion never fails to make me smile, as someone who also entered The Kingdom as an adult kicking and screaming! Thank you for writing this.

  • Trilemma

    “What is truth?” – Pontius Pilate.

    If each Christians doesn’t have a personal truth but has submitted to the truth, then why does each Christian have a different truth they believe they submitted to? Shouldn’t every Christian have the identical truth? It looks like every Christians develops their own personal truth by submitting to what they believe is the truth. Humbly submitting to what you believe is a truth bigger than yourself is still building your own personal truth.

    • Ken Abbott

      Good ol’ jesting Pilate; he would not stay for an answer (per Francis Bacon), even though Truth Incarnate was standing right in front of him.

      What is the basis for your assertion that “each Christian [has] a different truth they [sic] believe they [sic] submitted to”?

      • Trilemma

        There are thousands of different denominations each with a different truth they submitted to.

        • Ken Abbott

          And what are the real differences in the teaching or faith statements of all those denominations?

          The short answer is that, at least within Protestantism, the chief differences boil down to matters of church polity or the appropriate recipients of the sacraments (mostly baptism); denominations also tend to multiply by geographical differences, not matters of belief. The basic denominational doctrinal creeds or statements of faith are remarkably consistent across the board.

          • Trilemma

            Some believe God is triune, some don’t.
            Some believe there’s a Hell, some don’t.
            Some believe homosexuality is a sin, some don’t.
            Some believe baptism is necessary for salvation, some don’t.
            Some believe in tongues, some don’t.
            Some believe tithing is required, some don’t.
            Some believe people choose to be saved, some don’t.
            Some believe the last days are in the future, some don’t.
            The list goes on and on and on.

          • GPS Daddy

            Some believe that the river god is their provider.
            Some believe that the physical world is not real.
            Some believe that blacks are not human.
            Some believe that they are god.
            Some believe that they are living in a computer program.
            Some believe that they are worthless.
            Some believe if they kill “unbelievers” they get an automatic access into heaven.
            Some believe that magic is real.
            Some believe that is they sacrifice a baby to the river god then they will be provided for. (yes, that does happen today.)

            The human capacity to believe whatever we want is key to who we are. How can love be love unless we have a choice? Love is based on the freedom to freely choose. No one can make you love. Period. It is not possible to make another human being love another human being. We can force behavior but that all. But the freedom to choose to love is based on the freedom to choose what you believe. Love is based on faith. Faith is based on belief.

            Now the other side of the coin: Is there objective truth? The ‘no’ answer to that question MUST be objective. But if the ‘no’ answer is correct AND objective then it must be TRUE. Which then contradicts that answer. I think this reasoning is deceptively simple. It clearly establishes THAT objective truth exists. The question is what is that truth?

            I use a filter approach. I have identified some “properly basic beliefs”. These guide me in filtering other ideas. One such belief is that there is a Designer behind life. Life is clearly designed and to assume that this Designer exists needs no justification. There are arguments for a Designer but a person does not need to engage those arguments to be justified in accepting that a Designer behind life exists.

            We see this in mathematics. Geometry is based on axioms. Euclidean geometry has an axiom that the shortest distance between two points in a straight line. This is assumed to be true. Then the geometries theorems are build on the base of axioms for that geometry. Here is the key in geometry: the axioms cannot conflict with one another. Most people do not know the “axioms” that they base their life on. Some believe that the physical world is not real yet they life their entire life as if the physical world is real.

            A book that discusses this in life issues is “Transparent, How to see through the powerful assumptions that control you” by David Richardson.

          • Trilemma

            You justified the existence of the Designer by concluding that life is clearly designed. There are things that people take as axioms to base their lives on. For Christians, the Bible is used as an axiom that is above question. Not only that, Christians take their personal understanding of what the Bible says as axiomatic and above question. So, each Christian thinks their personal understanding of the Bible settles any argument.

          • GPS Daddy

            >>So, each Christian thinks their personal understanding of the Bible settles any argument

            That may be true of some but that is an overstatement in general and a misrepresentation/denial/misunderstanding of what Tom’s article is about.

            >>the Bible is used as an axiom that is above question

            Read the book.

            >>You justified the existence of the Designer by concluding that life is clearly designed

            Reread my comment. I did not justify the designer. Justifying is an argument. I need not present an argument to be justified in my position that life is designed and hence there exists a designer. The existence of God is a properly basic belief.

            >>There are things that people take as axioms to base their lives on

            What yours?

          • Trilemma

            1. What is Tom’s article about? It appears to me that he is saying that Christians don’t have a personal truth that is subjective but have an objective truth. If they have an objective truth then they should all be saying the same thing. That’s not what I observe. Tom’s truth about abortion and homosexuality are not shared by all Christians.

            2. I have read the book.

            3. I think you’re stating your position backwards. You said life is designed therefore there must be a designer. That means your properly basic belief is that life is designed and that the existence of a designer logically follows. If you want your position to be that God is a properly basic belief then you need to say that God exists therefore life is designed.

            4. I exist. Others exist in the same way I exist.

          • Trilemma, we have an objective truth to discover. Our discovery isn’t prefect.

            Was there a objective truth as to what light was, when physicists weren’t yet agreed on its being electromagnetic radiation?

            Not agreeing on objective truth is hardly any indication that it isn’t real.

          • Trilemma

            I agree with all three of your statements here.

          • GPS Daddy

            You cannot agree with all three of Tom’s statements AND claim:

            >> If they have an objective truth then they should all be saying the same thing

          • Trilemma

            Yes, I can. None of Tom’s three statements contradict my statement.

          • GPS Daddy

            You most certainly cannot and be rational. You agreed with the following:

            “Our discovery isn’t prefect.”

            You cannot agree that our discovery of objective truth is NOT perfect and at the SAME time insist that if Christians have objective truth then “they should all be saying the same thing.”

            You are welcomed to be irrational.

          • Trilemma

            If Christians have objective truth then they should all be saying the same thing. Since discovery isn’t perfect, not all Christians have objective truth and therefore don’t all say the same thing. No contradiction.

          • GPS Daddy

            Thats better but not there yet.

            >>not all Christians have objective truth and therefore don’t all say the same thing

            Your still implying that a Christian either has objective truth or they do not. Its not a binary situation. You may understand a concept at a basic level. Take grace for example. Grace is easy to understand at a head level but a heart understanding of grace can take a life time.

            Some Christians will be right on target in one area but off target in other areas.

          • Chip Crawford

            You remind me of the verse about someone ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of truth. Faith is a factor of Christian life, its entrance, growth and continuance. You can bat around concepts all day and night and work to get it all ironed out, and then take a firm step onto what you have established – and never arrive at that. God will not prove himself, but draw one, show you truth and now it’s time for your response. You’ve had plenty to respond to in your time here. What are you waiting for? It’s your move.

          • GPS Daddy

            >> If they have an objective truth then they should all be saying the same thing

            Thats a logical step that is not valid. Objective truth shares somethings that are mathematical in nature but objective truth is not mathematics.

            >> I have read the book.

            If David Richardson does not change your thinking then I surely cannot. The root problem in your life is not logical thinking but heart issues.

            >> You said life is designed therefore there must be a designer

            This is the foundation of the arguments that are used to support God. Dr. William Craig has many such augments.

            Take plan geometry for example. One of the axioms is “That all right angles are equal to one another.” The idea of a right angle is part of the axiom.

            So too with there is a designer behind life being axiomatic. I am justified in believing that there is a designer behind life. This is an axiomatic position. I do not need to argue that “since God exists life is designed”.

            >>I exist. Others exist in the same way I exist.

            This is not the totality of your life axioms. There are five axioms in plan geometry:

            1. “To draw a straight line from any point to any point.”
            2. “To produce [extend] a finite straight line continuously in a straight line.”
            3. “To describe a circle with any centre and distance [radius].”
            4. “That all right angles are equal to one another.”
            5. The parallel postulate: “That, if a straight line falling on two straight lines make the interior angles on the same side less than two right angles, the two straight lines, if produced indefinitely, meet on that side on which are the angles less than the two right angles.”

            If this is necessary for something as simple as plan geometry then life cannot be based on just ONE axiom and a theorem. You do not life your life based on that one axiom. You make many other assumptions in your life that you take by faith.

          • Trilemma

            I have not read David Richardson’s book. When you said, “Read the book,” you were referring to the Bible. Anyway, I’ll check out Richardson’s book.

            I’m not going to list all the things I consider axioms.

          • GPS Daddy

            >>I’m not going to list all the things I consider axioms.

            I bet. Because if you do then you will open yourself to analysis. Your VERY careful not to reveal your worldview. You’d rather take shots at others.

          • davidrev17

            Here’s a very concise “axiomatic” revelation below, provided by the sovereign “Spirit of Truth” Himself, while speaking “through” that former blasphemer, and accessory to having those 1st-century Jewish “Christian” disciples murdered and/or imprisoned – the quintessential rabbinical scholar, Sha’ul of Tarsus; aka the radically transformed Apostle Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles,” subsequent to his personal encounter (i.e., an EYEWITNESS) with the physical/bodily resurrected, thus glorified Savior/Redeemer of ALL mankind, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth.

            ( BTW: Please consider the facts of this encounter of which chronicles the incredible “conversion” of Saul of Tarsus, recorded/recalled for perpetuity by the physician Luke – the traveling companion of the Apostle Paul, and writer of the biblical books Luke & Acts – in Acts chapter 9; 22:1-21 & 26:1-23.)

            ▪ ▪ ▪

            “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [Jesus] will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

            ▪ ▪ ▪

            And I join “GPSD” in asking just what represents the axiomatic, foundational “truths” upon which your personal worldview beliefs are “a priori” resting – comfortably or otherwise? Also, how can you be so absolutely certain about your wholesale cynicism?? Or asked another way: What? exactly comprises your “foundation,” when it comes to questions of “Ultimate” significance; and Why? do you hold these axiomatic beliefs? I ask, this because “MY hope is built on nothing less, than [the resurrected] Jesus’ blood, and righteousness.” (e.g., see Matthew 7:24-25)

          • Trilemma

            Like I said, for Christians, the Bible is used as an axiom that is above question which is what you just did here. What proof do you have that this event actually happened?

            My axioms: I exist. Others exist in the same way I exist.

          • davidrev17

            Wow! Your so-called explanation, simply fails to explain anything about which we’re presently addressing. What an evasive (or slippery) non-answer-answer re: so much in my post (and others herein), of which you’ve simply chosen to ignore!

            So let’s keep this inquiry very simple: You said, “I exist. Others exist in the same way I exist.” So your normative (i.e., absolute) scientific, philosophical, historical, and archaeological evidence (just for starters) affirming such faith-based metaphysical speculation, would be what my friend???

          • Trilemma

            I claimed Christians use the Bible axiomatically.
            You responded by using the Bible axiomatically.

            Philosophical evidence: I think, therefore I am. – René Descartes

          • davidrev17

            Sure is strange how you continue to evade point-blank questions re: the assumed evidentiary superiority of your own a priori, faith-based worldview (whatever that may be?) – over-and-against the worldview presented in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.

            And what’s even more noteworthy, is your wholesale lack of the necessary theological, scientific, and philosophical details surrounding the “other-worldly” ramifications for the biblical worldview, as in “creation ex-nihilo” – e.g., Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 42:5; 45:18; Jeremiah 10:12; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 1:1-3; 11:3; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17, is certainly more than clear – brought to you by “the” NON-physical, First “Uncaused-Causer” for everything that’s ever existed…including time, space itself, and all mass/energy.

            Now, if you’re still struggling with grasping this type of description, maybe this will help: I’m specifically emphasizing your errant bush-league philosophizing about the Bible, and its self-existent, transcendent, personal, eternal Creator God; meaning the personal Divine Mind (or “pure being”), of whom is the primary “cause & life-source” for everything that exists – and from whom this entire universe derives its mysterious “contingently-existing” sustenance 24-7 – 365…you included.

            (BTW: Are you simply UNaware of the irresistibly compelling, biblical worldview “implications” that’ve emerged during the last 60-years or so, as a direct causal-result of the rigorous, unrelenting research associated with the reigning paradigm called “Standard Model of Physics”? Some distinguished scientists have called it “Big Bang” cosmology. Or how about Quantum Mechanics [QM), “the new physics,” for almost the last 100-years?? The worldview of the Bible is uncannily “quantum-consistent”!)

            So anyway, contra your unfortunately misguided philosophical claims, apparently influenced? by the “this-worldly” materialistic/deterministic ideas of Rene Descartes et al:

            The correct, or accurate “axiomatic” summation, or representation contained within the Judeo-Christian Scriptures – that’s been tragically misrepresented, as well as turned-on-its-head by you throughout this thread – is that WE EXIST, because the Creator God of the Bible both necessarily & transcendently exists…as in the “only true and living God.” (See Revelation 4:11 in this precise scientific context.) BTW: The pronoun “I,” is a notoriously vacuous notion, when viewed “apart” from its Creator and Sustainer; notwithstanding the philosophical musings of Rene Descartes.

            Unfortunately, your crass “armchair” attempt at pontificating ontologically about the worldview of the Bible, and thus its Creator God –
            seemingly under the incoherent guise of trying to “play the epistemological high-card” – has indeed been most peculiar, to say the least my friend.

            Hence the “self-authenticating” nature of the Bible itself, and its transcendently, or supernaturally imparted message intended for all His rational/moral animals called Homo sapiens, actually does represent axiomatic principles and/or truths, for which His specially-created spirit creatures are held eternally accountable.

            WE have His unalterable, unerring Word on this too. So for one of His “contingently-existing” human beings to ignore such truths – as opposed to their NOT having the capacity to “necessarily exist” – would surely indicate an eternally foolish decision on one’s part.

          • Bryan

            To respond directly to the list you give above, of the 8 you list, none of these saves you. The common denominator in Christianity is the belief that your salvation justifies you before Almighty God.
            Each of the things you listed are things Christians do or believe but none of them make a person a Christian. An old campfire skit explains this pretty well. The punchline is: Just because you walk like a chicken, and cluck like a chicken, and peck like a chicken, that doesn’t make you a chicken.
            As Ken Abbott says above, many of the differences between Protestant denominations have more to do with how the church is governed rather than what the church believes on the essentials.

          • Trilemma

            I’ve had Christians tell me directly that you’re not saved unless you believe God is triune. I’ve had Christians tell me directly that you’re not saved unless you’ve been baptized by immersion.

            Mr Gilson talks about not letting go of the truth about abortion and gay marriage but not all Christians agree with his personal truth on these issues. How is a non-Christian supposed to know which Christian truth is THE TRUTH and which Christian truth is just a personal truth?

          • Bryan

            Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
            I’ve had Christians condemn me for playing an electric guitar with distortion. (Actually, it was our lead singer that was supposedly demon-possessed. The rest of us were under his influence.)
            The thing is that all of these truths have answers in scripture and if they don’t have a direct answer (ie “And God said thou shalt be baptized by immersion in water that is no more than 24.7 deg C and is at least 3 feet but not more than 5 feet 4 inches in depth…”), there are many good references and theologians who can point you in the right direction. But the biggest resource we has as Christians is access to the one who authored the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit. That’s why the Truth holds us not the other way around. We as humans can confuse it but the Truth remains unchanged.

          • Trilemma

            Assuming that scripture and the Holy Spirit are sources for objective truth, the result is that each Christian builds their own personal truth based on their understanding of what scripture and the Holy Spirit say. There is much disagreement between references and between theologians. So, how does a non-Christian know which Christian is being held by the Truth and which ones are holding a personal truth? How do you know that your truth isn’t a personal truth?

          • Bryan

            Based on your response to me and to the other comments I read, there is a clarification I want to offer: A Christian is in need of objective truth just like everyone else. And even with objective truth, individuals, particularly American individuals, tend to have additional personal truths as well. I don’t think the author meant to convey that Christians have no personal truth and only have objective truth. If that were the case, it would be very simple to say it’s our way or the highway and you would be right in concluding, as you have, how do I choose between the multitude of Christians who have differences of opinion on several matter. I don’t believe that to be the case. I believe and I think the author tried to convey, there is objective truth that is outside of the believer. In other words, whether or not any human believed in the existence of God, God still exists. That is an example of an objective truth that doesn’t change based on who you are talking to. I realize I’ve offered a truth claim that I haven’t proven. I don’t have the time to do so right now, but I think it’s evident that if the statement that God exists is true, then it would be true no matter what you or I believe. And that’s the point, if there is objective truth then it’s outside what you hear from any believer, non-believer, etc.
            The foundation for a Christian is to believe that the Bible is true in everything it says about the universe, about us, and about God. There is evidence to believe this is true ranging from Archaeological and historical data to textural evidence and other linguistic materials. There is also evidence in my own life. That doesn’t mean that everything in the Bible is equally applicable to my life at all times in my life. If you really want to find out if you can believe the Bible, read it and read the scholars that have studied the veracity of the Bible. Read the ones who believe the Bible and the ones who don’t. You have a reasoning brain that can figure out which conclusions are reasonable and which are flawed.
            Once you’ve done that, if you agree that the Bible is true, then the next step is to do what it says: Believe that Christ died for you in order to take the punishment for your sins. That he rose again, conquering death, so that you soul can be justified before God. Confess your sins and allow God to be the Lord of your life.
            If you do that, then as the Scripture says, the Holy Spirit will be with you, helping you to discern truth from lies. When you read the Bible as a believer you can ask for help from God in understanding a passage and how it should apply to your life. You can decide whether a body of believers is acting in accordance with Scripture or in opposition to Scripture. You can decide if the way a church is performing one of it’s rituals is in agreement with your understanding of scripture or not. If it’s not you can choose to participate anyway or find a different body of believers. Most of those things, the rituals, the observations, etc. are meant to be reminders for believers to remind us of who Jesus is and what he’s done for us. Whether your church does communion every week or once a month doesn’t save you. It’s a preference of that group of believers. They may have reasons for believing it’s right and they will be able to justify it with Scripture but they probably didn’t get it from a list of rules. It was discerned from multiple passages of scripture and from traditions learned over time.
            In summary, to know objective Truth you have to read Scripture. If you need outside confirmation to believe scripture is true, it’s readily available. If you believe that the Scriptures are true, you need to act accordingly.

          • Bryan

            I responded to this a couple of days ago but I now see that the post was marked as spam. It was kind of wordy. I know how likely it is for it to ever see the light of day on this thread. So I’ll post the summary. Suffice it to say that I offered further explanation in the rest of the post but I’d have to get another way of contacting you in order to get the rest of it to you.
            In summary, to know objective Truth you have to read Scripture. If you need outside confirmation to believe scripture is true, it’s readily available. If you believe that the Scriptures are true, you need to act accordingly.

          • Trilemma

            I found the long version in my emails from Disqus.

            After reading arguments for and against the veracity of the Bible, I don’t believe that the Bible is true in everything it says about the universe, about us, and about God. Nor do I believe the writers always intended it to be. For example, I believe the creation account was meant to be taken as a figurative story rather than actual history. Nor do I believe that the interpretation of the Bible held by the majority of Christians accurately reflects what the Bible actually says.

            I realize that it’s possible for a person to have objective truths mixed with personal truths. My point is that there is no way to know which is which.

          • Ken Abbott

            In its final sense, saving faith (or belief) is trust–trust in the ability of the object or Person in whom you place this trust that it or He is capable of accomplishing that which is promised, the salvation of your soul. Theologians talk about the role of knowing the attendant facts (such as the content of the historic Christian creeds) and the further role of assenting to the truth of those facts (e.g., agreeing that the tomb of Jesus Christ was indeed empty on the third day). But knowing the facts and merely agreeing to their truth suffices only for demon status (see James 2:19). What is required for salvation is trust or reliance. So it is ultimately a matter of the heart, but it is through the head that these matters come into the heart. It is possible to believe wrong facts about God, Christ, the Bible, etc, and yet be saved, but it is far better to have one’s beliefs informed and shaped by Scripture and (secondarily) the historic consensus of the Christian church (by which I mean the body of believers down through the centuries and not one specific organization) as governed by Scripture.

            If people belonging to a particular communion are placing unbiblical binders on the consciences of others–a requirement for immersive baptism, to use one of your examples–then they are transgressing the rule of love. Paul had unkind words for folks like this.

          • Trilemma

            Those churches that teach immersive baptism is required for salvation believe it’s unbiblical to teach otherwise and transgresses the rule of love.

          • The number of Christian denominations that don’t believe in the Trinity is very small. United Pentecostal Church, or in a very different way, Unitarian/Universalist, and none other I know of that’s any size. Mormons, JWs, etc. aren’t Christian by any reasonable serve of the term. Neither is U/U. UPC is simply considered to be drastically wrong.

            In other words, there is sufficient agreement among Christian churches that to disagree with the Trinity is not to be Christian.

            I think Trinitarian belief is essential for salvation, with the slight caveat that a person who has never really heard about the Trinity can be saved without necessarily affirming it. And I font think that belief us anything at all like the divisive point you think it is.

          • Trilemma

            I realize that over 99% of Christians today believe that God is triune. But truth is not the result of a majority vote. Back in the fourth century there was a serious dispute over Trinitarianism vs. Arianism. Theodosius I ended the dispute by edict in 381. But truth is not the result of a governmental edict. Overall today, it’s not that divisive. Trinitarians have their churches and non-trinitarians have theirs. It feels more divisive to me because I believe God is not triune. I don’t see anything in the Bible that indicates Trinitarian belief is necessary for salvation. That appears to be a personal truth.

          • Tom Gilson

            And how do you think this discussion might help you with that?

          • Trilemma

            Not sure I understand. Help me with what?

          • Whatever it is that’s motivating you to pursue this topic. I don’t agree with you, obviously, but I don’t know what else to say. You seem to want something. Or maybe you’re content just to get in the last word.

          • Trilemma

            I have a couple of motivations for pursuing this and other subjects. Participating in discussions forces me to organize my thoughts in order to put them into words. If challenged and I’m unable to defend a comment, then I rethink my position. The result is personal growth. The topic of this particular article being truth is part of epistemology which I find very interesting. I especially like the Münchhausen trilemma.

            Of the world’s religions, I think Christianity is the best. But I think Christianity can be better than it is even within the boundaries of the Bible. That’s my motivation for challenging Christian doctrines.

            I know we don’t agree but I enjoy reading your articles and I do appreciate it when you take the time to reply to my comments.

  • Arnold Kropp

    An excerpt from the novel: “Considering the Ant. Memoirs of Samuel Guardyall”

    Betty interrupts: “So, it’s the likes of you and your kind who determine what is right and wrong and we had better accept

    “Betty, please let me continue. No, me and my kind, as you say, have accepted the concept, a standard ideology, that those morals of life were instituted by our creator, yeah, by a Devine power outside our physical realm that is beyond human reasoning, and beyond all the ways of mankind dividing us. You said: “me and my kind”, so now I can open up the
    subject of you and your kind. Where do you and your kind look to for answers, guidance and submission? Huh? Feelings or standards? Where do your standard originate?

    Interrupting, Betty states: “So we can’t get married, is that it and then you’ll be happy.” Betty responds.

    “Betty, as a society we’ve got to agree on standards to live by, or we’re doomed to a struggle that’ll never end, all
    those different standards dividing us into multitudes. You have yours and I have mine and you want me to change, and I want you to change each of us thinking I’ve got that right, so leave me alone.

    That’s been the struggle from the beginning and it will not end till we all stand aside accepting those
    universal standards provided us by the Almighty God who does not change.”

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