Have you heard people talking about what the Bible says in ‘black and white’? Have you heard people say that ‘truth is truth’ and does not change?
Have you ever questioned someone’s take on ‘absolute truth’? I wish I could say that I’ve questioned and the conversation has gone well….
In thinking through many conversations over the last few weeks, one thing becomes clearer to me: Jesus is my only ‘absolute.’ Doctrine and theology debates do not lead me to truth. Jesus taught that truth is a person–Him. If He’s right, could it be that truth is more fluid than we thought or hoped? What if what is right for one culture evolves into something else for another? A strong argument for slavery, polygamy and women as property can be made from the ‘black and white’ words of the Bible. However, our culture has grown and matured over the generations and we have learned to reinterpret the literal view of many biblical teachings to a more fluid ‘spirit’ of the teachings.
But we don’t like variance. We want absolutes. We want to know with which side to … well … side. We want to be right. Isn’t that the focus of most of our disagreements–we want to prove ourselves right. We want to win.
One thing I notice about Jesus: He never let a powerless person stand as a public spectacle for a theological discourse. Can you imagine the fear and humiliation of the woman caught in adultery? Paraded to Jesus by a group of men and spotlighted for the crowd to gawk at and judge? Proclaimed the example of God’s Law at work, many took up rocks ready to heave at her given the command. Stripped of her humanity, she stood there shamed waiting for her public sentencing. Jesus responded to the building condemnation not by engaging in the debate, but by scribbling in the dirt. Whatever He wrote, it silenced the crowd and took the wind out of the arrogant sails. Everyone left except the woman. Jesus conversed with her privately and defused the shameful situation.
In church circles, we have spotlighted and shamed groups of people that serve our purpose of proving our ‘correct interpretation’ of the Bible. Honestly, all sides of issues have done this–we have elevated issues above people, and people have paid a high price of public shame and humiliation. I challenge myself, and any who want to journey with me, to leave the conflict-inducing debates, begin to hear people’s hearts and learn with them and from them as we seek the only One legitimately called ‘Truth.’