What is Truth?
Sadly, in disputes among believers, it is not always the Scriptures that are held up as the arbiter of truth. It might be helpful to point out a few areas where the Bible has been quietly dethroned.
‘This overthrows what the people of God have always believed and taught’—or similar phraseology. Of course it is a wise proverb that tells us to “remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set” (Prov. 22: 28), but we are also warned not to “set aside the commandment of God” (Mark 7: 9) in order to observe “what has been delivered by the ancients” (v5). The standard is never what is traditional, but the Word of God.
‘This contradicts every esteemed teacher among ourselves’. Certainly we should be wary of novelties, but the truth is never a question of the ‘popular’ view. We are to search the Scriptures to see if what is promulgated is according to truth (see Acts 17: 11).
‘It is the same as the old heresy’. This is a very common approach, when controversial doctrine is dismissed by labelling it identical with some of the heterodoxies of the past. The reaction of many of God’s people to such a charge is to recoil with alarm and to refuse to even engage. Others will labour to prove the charge justified, but the standard against which all is measured is not the Bible, but the theological definition of the heresy itself, thus side-lining the Bible from its role as the arbiter of truth.
Excessive language is often used to shut down any discussion on a subject associated with controversy. Of course we should have a sober judgment of what is or is not according to the truth, but when believers employ intemperate or extravagant terms, it often masks their lack of confidence in the written Word. The apostles, even when addressing serious evils among God’s people, were plain-speaking but measured, and refrained from lowering themselves to personal jibes.‘Everybody else does it this way’. How common is this—where the heart is governed by ecclesiastical ‘trends’ rather than the unchanging words of divine truth! Our business is not to be like others, but to obey what God has told us.