All Truth is God’s Truth

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July 14, 2010 Tags: Education

Today's video features Joel Hunter. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

For more videos with Joel Hunter, visit our "Conversations" collection.

In this video Conversation, Joel Hunter again addresses the concept of fear—this time from a different angle. “I believe that all truth is God’s truth,” says Hunter, “so I am never afraid of truth—no matter who it comes from.” He offers the analogy of being hungry and accepting food from a non-Christian—just as we should accept truth, regardless of the source.

Hunter remarks that he is not afraid of science and notes that in fact, many of the great scientists in western civilization were Christians themselves, who were discovering how God worked in the world. He offers a famous quote from Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, who viewed careful study of the universe as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” Like many scientists that have followed him, Kepler believed that the architecture of the world was accessible through reason and inquiry.

Concurring with this philosophy, Hunter remarks, “Atheists are not teaching us theology, they are teaching us things in science…Good science will ultimately lead more people to God than away from Him.” Thus, if scientists make accurate discoveries, ultimately believers and non-believers alike will be led to these truths, which will allow them to more fully appreciate the wonder of God’s creation.

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


Joel Hunter is senior pastor at Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood, Fla. Hunter is also a board member of the World Evangelical Alliance and author of the book A New Kind of Conservative.


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Merv - #21877

July 14th 2010

Thank you, Joel, for sharing a conviction that we should all be sharing in.

I think the Apostle Paul (I Cor. 15) gives essentially the same message.  He seems to be saying that truth trumps all—-even doctrine.  I.e.  he doesn’t say:  “well, if this isn’t quite true, then it still makes a pretty good thing to believe”—- instead he effectively says “if this isn’t true—-then we need to ditch it.”  Truth was of the highest priority to him ..... (and for any lurking readers who may leverage this logic for Genesis—-note that Paul was applying it specifically to the Resurrection; He wasn’t trying to elevate all disputable doctrines or understandings into theologically essential status.) 

Whenever any of us, as Christians, showcase any attitude that begins to deprecate our need for truth at whatever level:  spiritual, experiential, *or scientific*, ...  then we depreciate the value of all our convictions.  When others become aware that we have demoted truth or reality as shown in the works of God, then they have reason to doubt the veracity of other convictions we may wish to share, and that they may badly need to hear.

—Merv


Karl A - #21918

July 15th 2010

Hmm, Merv, I don’t quite see that truth was Paul’s highest priority.  It seems Paul is saying the (truth of the) Resurrection is paramount.  In other areas he (and Jesus I think) contextualizes truth as relational and subservient to love.  Cf. “We all have knowledge; knowledge puffs up but love builds up.”  Jesus goes so far as to say “I am the Truth” - truth ultimately embodied in a person.

Maybe we’re just looking at two sides of a coin.  I definitely agree with Dr. Hunter’s main point, that all truth is God’s truth, which should make Christians fearless truth-seekers.  (That’s the attitude that led me out of YEC, to my discomfort.)


Merv - #21966

July 15th 2010

I’m not sure if or how you disagree here.  The focus is on the resurrection, yes; but Paul states that if the resurrection didn’t happen then we are found to be false witnesses (and are most pitiable among men).  The pretty strong implication here is that truth is paramount.  That isn’t to say that truth doesn’t have many different dimensions or that we completely or rightly understand these dimensions of truth.  I agree with you that the relational aspect is huge in Christianity—even central.  The objective aspect (either Christ was raised or He wasn’t) is still there too and demands a true verdict if Christianity is to be legitimate.

I don’t think it a stretch to more broadly apply Paul’s example here to everything else.  If something is a falsehood, then it should not be conflated with Scriptural teaching or with God.  The reason I think this ‘All truth is God’s truth’ principle is so important is because we can continue to apply it today regarding information that Paul didn’t have.  He had no reason to think


Merv - #21967

July 15th 2010

the world was millions of years old.  If he was alive today, he would remain true to this principle as being higher priority than trying to maintain a now untenable cosmology that happened to belong to his time.

—Merv


Merv - #21969

July 15th 2010

I forgot to soften my assertion regarding what Paul *would* think were he still alive ...

Let that be reworded to:  *I maintain*  or *I think* if he was still alive today, he would ...

One can’t know this for certain.

—Merv


Merv - #21972

July 15th 2010

Did you have a specific example in mind when you spoke of how Jesus “contextualizes truth as relational and subservient to love.”?

I think I know what you mean, but I may be misunderstanding.

There were times when Jesus ‘overlooked’ the truth about someone.  For example, ignoring the fact that they were apparently a sinner of ill-repute and associating with /eating with / or healing them or encouraging them anyway.  To my mind, this would be an example of Jesus holding relationship and redemption above the need for all truth about someone to be put on public display.  I.e.—he isn’t saying that they aren’t really sinners.  He’s just choosing not to make that the central issue at the moment (ignoring it if you will) for the sake of relationship or to make a point to the Pharisees.

—Merv


Merv - #21973

July 15th 2010

One last correction:  contrary to my choice of words in my last post—-I should have stated that Jesus was *forgiving* sins, which is different and much more significant than “ignoring” them.
—merv


conrad - #22034

July 15th 2010

Science is the study of God’s miracles.


Karl A - #22052

July 15th 2010

Merv, I am not philosophically or theologically trained so this probably will come out garbled.  I agree with your (21972) guess of my position.  In Jesus’ case (not so much from Paul’s) we have to argue from silence, from what Jesus didn’t do.  Jesus didn’t go around correcting every misstatement or misunderstanding of the disciples, for example.

Additionally, as Westerners we are trained to think propositionally and objectively.  Nothing exists unless it has been defined and described, “x has the properties of y and z” “x is not q”  But when Jesus said “I am the truth” it seems that we can’t “know” Jesus by an outsider’s description; “knowing” him is about a love and trust relationship to him.  Just like Adam “knew” his wife?  Or Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the foundation of knowledge”?

Maybe what unites these two paragraphs is the statement that being in right relationship was more important than being right.


Merv - #22099

July 16th 2010

I like the way your last sentence summarizes things, especially in the context of today’s origins debates.  Maybe my only concern is that we are at least “right enough” about something that our knowledge (or false knowledge, or lack thereof) won’t be an impediment to relationship. 

E.g.  At a most basic theological level, somebody’s “knowledge” that God didn’t exist would certainly be an impediment to his having any relationship with God.  So it would seem that getting at least some basic knowledge right is still going to be an essential part of this package.  But the vast majority of things we get all hung up about probably don’t fit that category.  (Also—perhaps it is quite possible that “right knowledge” follows as an effect of right relationship; maybe even probably so?)

—Merv


Mike - #22126

July 16th 2010

(Karl A - #22052)
How can you be in “right relationship” if you don’t know right from wrong?

There is much validity in the hypothesis Merv, but concerning your statement (#21967)

“If he was alive today, he would remain true to this principle as being higher priority than trying to maintain a now untenable cosmology that happened to belong to his time.”

Although this may be valid; I question the veracity of your claims.

Firstly, is it true that Paul would change his second temple period cosmology, if he were physically present with us today? No it’s not true! Although it’s a valid question it’s irrational. Paul clearly based his cosmology not on philosophy or rhetoric, but on Christology. Remember, Paul tried to argue with the Stoic and Epicureans at Athens and got nowhere fast. Therefore, when he went to Corinth, he made it his chief end to preached Christ crucified: Christology over philosophy.

Secondly, Paul is alive today, but he is positionally with the Father. So, if Paul’s cosmology is untenable to your current understanding of the cosmos; which is prone to change,  then how might you bring your cosmology in line with scripture; if that’s your goal to be conformed to it, and not it to you?


Merv - #22141

July 16th 2010

Mike, I’m struggling to understand your claim.  So would this mean that Paul would continue today to insist, for example, that the earth is fixed and unmoving since that is what he would have thought during his time here?  Or if the people of his time were convinced that Christ’s return was imminent in a literal sense of “before this generation has passed away”—-would Paul then teach today that this already happened back in the time of that generation, just for the sake of staying consistent with earlier traditions?

All I’m saying is that Paul would continue to insist that we not teach falsehood.  So if we know x, y, and z to be false today (that earlier folks may have commonly accepted as part of the truth of their times), then I don’t see Paul blindly insisting that we have to continue understanding God’s Word in those ways that are now shown to be false.  Yes—we will always have those tenable and even
—Merv


Merv - #22143

July 16th 2010

wrong understandings, but we also have much knowledge that seems pretty certain.  If someone is convinced that the Bible teaches that there is literally a dome of liquid water above the sky, we have no problems correcting that misunderstanding now.  I think Paul would correct it too, even if he didn’t think differently back then.  He is pretty clear about stumbling blocks (Romans 14:13).  It is pretty important not to bundle falsehoods together with the message of Christ, especially when that becomes a barricade to so many. 

I may not have fully grasped your clarifications.  It would be interesting to hear more about how Paul argued differently with the Stoics and Epicureans than he did with others.

—Merv


Mike - #22253

July 17th 2010

Merv,  I’m not quite sure whether or not Paul would have believed as you have stated “that the earth is fixed and unmoving since that is what he would have thought during his time here?” this is clearly eisegetical in nature. I would agree with you in one sense, that from a 2nd temple period Jewish perception of cosmology; one could argue your point. What’s more, if one were to consider the affects of Greco-Roman philosophy, on Paul’s contemporary Jewish thinking, then it is possible to end up as you suggest. However, when we consider the affect of God’s cosmology, on the mind of Paul, the evidence of scripture would attest to a deeper, more profound understand of the cosmos then either the Jewish linear understanding of the cosmos, or the Greco-Roman circular understanding of the cosmos would attest. I would suggest that Paul in his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth clearly indicates a grander, larger view of cosmos. The constant theme of scripture is God imminently breaking into his Cosmos: Like that of a bright light breaking through a cloud or the sun rising on the horizon. It’s terribly offensive to the psyche of any person modern or not, to consider the heavens as Gods domain and handiwork.


Mike - #22263

July 17th 2010

I would also suggest that Paul would not have continued on in this debate as I have suggested in my first post. He saw the futility of trying to argue philosophy with the stoics and epicureans(Sophia with gentiles). Most of which saw Paul as a week and inferior logician in his philosophical arguments. (Acts 17:16-33). So I suggested that Paul; as he states in his 1st letter to the church at Corinth, made it his chief end to preach Christ crucified (1 Cor 2:1-16).

Paul clearly illustrates the point in verses 1-5 of 1st Corinthians. Remember, When Paul left Athens he immediately went to Corinth after he addressed the issue of idolatry among the Greeks with the wisdom of the Stoics and Epicureans “Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”(Acts 17:18). Paul went on to quote there philosophers and argue his defense of Christ as the “Unknown God” in v.23. When he began to speak of the resurrection, they lost interest “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” (Acts 17:38). It is with this experience in mind that Paul changes his Apologetic.


Mike - #22264

July 17th 2010

With regard to your question “would Paul then teach today that this already happened back in the time of that generation, just for the sake of staying consistent with earlier traditions? No. In fact Paul consistently preached until his demise; the imminent return of Christ. If you consider the concept that imminence is like that of a man awaiting the certain end of the guillotine blade; then you would understand the mind of Paul concerning imminence. In other words Hid kingdom is both now and not yet. What’s more, even forever. Paul was and is not, a preterist! Nor am I.

I hope this has clarified what I was saying.

Thanks for the provocation.


Mike - #22265

July 17th 2010

*His kingdom is both now and not yet.

oops!


merv - #22303

July 18th 2010

Mike, for many “His” kingdom may be a “Hidden” kingdom as well (don’t discount your profound typo too much.)

I see (and agree) with your points about Paul changing his apologetic to preach Christ crucified.  That seems clear and Scriptural to me as well. 

You stated:  “the evidence of scripture would attest to a deeper, more profound understand of the cosmos then either the Jewish linear understanding of the cosmos, or the Greco-Roman circular understanding of the cosmos would attest. I would suggest that Paul in his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth clearly indicates a grander, larger view…”

Can you tell me more specifically which verses you have in mind?  My assumption (from silence) is that Paul would have shared in the basic (unmoving earth) cosmology of his day.  His grander view of the cosmos as God’s handiwork is fine, of course, but doesn’t touch on whatever mechanical views he may have had about such things.  One could argue that the mechanics were unimportant to him as regards faith.  But they obviously aren’t now as the existence of places like the whole modern controversy attests.

—Merv


merv - #22304

July 18th 2010

And for one correction of my own:  my last sentence was awkward and should have read:  “as the existence of places *like this and similar web sites* and the whole modern controversy attests.  I had in mind that the mechanics can be a significant stumbling block for many today in ways that it wasn’t in Paul’s time, which obligates the present-day Christian to address it.

—Merv


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