Wednesday, October 01, 2008

timely truth

Often we hear that God's truth is timeless, and that's true. Timeless as in going beyond just the time in which it is written. For example in any time and place, I would think that John 3:16 is pretty straightforward, and requires little or no new special nuancing, to be understood.

But truth needs to also be spoken of as timely. In other words, truth is communicated to us in our contexts in ways that not only resonate with us in helping us understand, but which also moves us towards God's goal of the kingdom in the new creation in Jesus. For example not only are masters told to do well to their slaves in Scripture, but also within Scripture we believe there are powerful seeds planted which in the end do away with all slavery.

Truth doesn't change, so in that sense it's timeless. We need the entire will of God given to us in Scripture, but it takes on different emphases and can be shared and lived out in fresh creative ways depending on the context where we live. Although all of Scripture is the word of God, there are times when certain things in it will jump out at us as needed as a word aptly/fittingly spoken for the occasion, time and place.

Timeless truth in Jesus remains. How it is lived out must ever be subject to new and fresh ways of both speaking of it and living it out. In other words we need to be timely and fitting in our ways of expressing and applying it. I think Scot McKnight is right, that we must not read Scripture through Tradition (whether Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant Reformation) but with Tradition, always open to new ways God may be giving us both to see and express the truth given to us in Scripture and in Jesus.

I get a sense this is a bit fuzzy, so I'll keep working on it. Maybe it's just this early hour in which I'm up. But what would you like to add to this, or what questions might you have here?


L.L. Barkat said...

Timely implies sensitivity to context. Which suggests that truth can wear different garb depending on place and time... yet it's heart remains essential I think.

Deb said...

Amen! Words well spoken! Nothing said in this post is fuzzy to me.

Anonymous said...

beyond me.

not because it is fuzzy.

it is just beyond me.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. I think it's the same story, but just looks different in different cultures. Though once one gets beyond all that it is plain that it is the same.

This reminds me of Don Richardson and "Peace Child" when God helped him and his wife Carol in knowing how to tell the story of God giving his Son Jesus, as the Peace Child, in a way which resonated with them, in just the way they needed.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks again, Honey.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Beyond you because you're just not familiar with the concept. I'm sure you really do get it. It's all about sharing God's story and good news in Jesus in ways which are understandable to the friends we're sharing it with, in ways which hit home to them. This takes time in getting to know their culture. God accommodates himself to culture in Scripture, not expecting cultures to have arrived, because none have. Of course God never condones sin in any culture. The idea is working with people and with us where we're at.

But I do think I can do better on understanding this, myself. I'm a bit lost as well on it. Too isolated among people like myself, perhaps- I don't know.

Anonymous said...

oh yes! now, i get it.

i love the way that God speaks His truth.

the Spirit can move like like a sword that cuts right through all that has been built up and finds that common ground, that soft spot in the heart, He speaks to our spirit.

John 14:16-18 (New International Version)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—

the Spirit of truth.

The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

ted, i am in agreement that we are to be open to relating with other spirit and in truth.

"Author Amy Hollingsworth "met" Fred Rogers on television while watching "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" on public television with her 2-year-old son. Then she had the chance to meet him in person for a rare interview about his faith.
Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister who died in 2003, shared insights and life lessons with Hollingsworth during their ensuing friendship.
She, in turn, talked to Beliefnet about what Mister Rogers did when he got angry, how he endured cultural criticism and cynicism, and why he felt the space between the TV set and the viewer is "holy ground."

from ~ beliefnet web page

we endure changes in culture and beliefs, we go out and relate with people...and the space between us and the other person...holy ground. the Holy Spirit works like a sword.

like reading or hearing the word, the space between the words and our heart, holy ground. the Holy Spirit of truth knows how to deliver the truth to our spirit.

we are spirit, soul and body.

the Holy Spirit feeding of our spirit is necessary to have the truth guide our soul and body.

again on another page...

As it turns out, Rogers' principle tie to the Presbyterian Church is his
unusual ordination to the ministry. In 1962 Pittsburgh Presbytery ordained
him with a charge to continue his work with children and families through the
media. He has never served in the traditional role of pastor, but through
television he brings his simple message of affirmation and acceptance to a
"congregation" of millions.

"I've seen it happen so often - what I present in faith somehow nourishes the
viewer," Rogers says. Before taping a TV show, he always prays to God: "Let
some word that is said be yours." He firmly believes in "holy ground," which
he describes as "the space between the person who is offering his or her best
and how the Holy Spirit can translate that to help another person in need."

Ted M. Gossard said...

I appreciate all you share here, and I always appreciated Fred Rogers as well. His truth was timely and helpful to many children. Thanks.