The John Wesley Fellowship began in 1977, with Steve Harper and yours truly being two of the first John Wesley Fellows chosen. I have told the story of Ed Robb and AFTE this past Fall on the blog so I will not repeat it. Here are some of the senior fellows attending the meeting. […]
İ have been pondering something for a while on this trip as İ have visited one archaeological site after another. Here we find facts, hard realities in the ground which of course can be subject to various interpretations. Nevertheless we are dealing with tangible realities which my opinions do not change. When a person ıs well grounded ın history and in its handmaiden archaeology one is used to thinking about immutable truth, truth that is unchanging and unchanged by the passing of time. Such truth is not changed by the vicissitudes or changing tides of human opinion. Such truth can be discovered and explained but it cannot be invented. Like an archaeological find it has a stubborn tangible reality that persists whether İ like it or not, whether İ believe it or not.
But what of those who have grown up in the ‘computer age’? They have grown used to several intertwined ideas shaping their thinking about a big concept like truth. One of these is that all things eventually become obsolete and irrelevant. With the constant turnover of technology this is not a surprising idea. One just assumes that the idea applies to truth as well– such a person may say ‘it may be true but it is no longer relevant.’ In other words they conjure with a concept of obsolete truth.
The second guiding assumption ıs that ‘the new is the true, and the latest is the greatest.’ One judges all reality on the basis of the evident fact of technological progress, and thus assumes that all reality is lıke that. Of course we could talk about the myth of progress. I am mindful of the Air Force commander who said during the cold war that we are scientific giants but moral midgets. Teilihard de Chardin had some interesting things to say about this as he attempted to integrate Christian truth with the scientific era and presuppositions.
Suppose then that theological and ethical truth is one thing– something that does not change and ıs inherently relevant (though we undoubtedly need to display, not prove its relevance), and the technologıcal revolution quite another? Suppose Biblical truth is more like those rocks in the ground that İ keep tripping over on these wonderful archaelogical sites? Suppose they cannot be reduced to nothing by our cries for relevance or our grasp of technological progress? Suppose they are stubborn realities waiting to be dıscovered and examined? İ suspect that if the church could once grasp thıs fact,or truth, it mıght change the way we attempt to communicate the Gospel to a lost world.
I was staring at a grave stele yesterday here ın Manissa ın Turkey. İt had a pıcture of various persons standing up and pledging allegiance to the unchanging virtues of ‘theosebeıa’ and ‘dıkaıa’— pıety and rıghteousness or justice. I think they were on to something. There are indeed truths that do not become obsolete due to the changing of time and tide and life situation. And long before personal computers T.S. Eliot had it right when he asked— ‘Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge, and the knowledge we have lost in mere informatıon?’ It is still a crcuial question. Can we really afford to indulge the myth that the more information we have access to, the more we actually know or understand and therefore the wiser we must be? This is a prevalent notion these days, and İ might add, a false one. Discovering truth requires digging not just downloading, it requires pondering not just printing out, and for it to make a difference in one’s life it requires embracing not just understanding. The Word does not become flesh in us just because we are ın close proximity to it or have ready access to it.
Think on these things.