Chuck Colson and the Knowability of Truth (revisited)

January 4, 2007

I read an article by Chuck Colson which was interesting. He seemed more open than what I have read of him before, yet still I see his misses the point… though it is the most close I have seen someone “get it”, yet not.

He opens:

“Distressed about my widely circulated exchanges with an “emerging church” leader, a young theologian confronted me after a conference. He urged me to try to understand them. “You might be surprised by how much you agree on,” he said.
Maybe I had been too harsh. After all, the theologian—we’ll call him Jim—argued that emerging church leaders are trying to translate the gospel for a postmodern generation. That’s a commendable goal, I agreed. Though in their effort to reach postmoderns—who question the existence and knowability of truth—I expressed fear that they are coming dangerously close to teaching that objective truth does not exist.”

(That sounds great and I hope he means it. Yet with all the wonderful news Chuck Colson misses the point or maybe it is finally the contrast between what the emerging church sees and what the modern church views as value.)

“Like all statements that can lead us into error, those have the ring of truth. Of course, truth becomes relational when we come to Jesus, Truth himself. But our doing that isn’t what makes it true. He is the truth whether or not we ever experience him. Scripture is never less than revealed propositional truth.”

(I find it interesting that Chuck Colson believes Jesus to be “Truth Himself” so it seems that if I am a heretic for this belief this opponent of the emerging church is also one but I digress as I view this as really aberrant to one individual who is more out to discredit me on a personal level. Yet, I think here is the open door to the key issue that Colson may have as he misses that without the relationship with Jesus, the bible is just” propositions” and can only be assumed true. For without the authority of Jesus to back the Bible, it has no authority. Without the Bible being backed by God then it has not authority. So relationship is most important… as I have stated before many times without a irrefutable undeniable, verifiable “source” of truth, it cannot be “true”. Truth can only be assumed to be true from one’s relative knowledge of all things in the known creation.)

“The e-mails kept coming back to that one stubborn question: What is truth? While I now have increased sympathy for what emerging leaders are trying to accomplish, I still believe some have wrongly diagnosed the church—believing evangelicals are wedded to dry, dusty doctrine, the curse of modernity.”

(In these email exchanges I think that the person may not be a true representative of what most “think”. To talk to one person here and one there does not mean all believe the same. Even in the mainstream churches one cannot assume that all affirm the tenants of our faith. It is not just the “dry, dusty doctrine, the curse of modernity” that we are diagnosing as “wrong” in fact Brian McLaren in one lecture I listened to praised modernity as a great thing in and of itself! It is that we have allowed modernity to affect our view in how we read scripture… we have “culturalized it out of it’s true context and in that created a new context for which it was not intended… On doctrines, though I am accused of not believing in doctrines, which is ludicrous. I am against man made doctrine and like most emerging folks seek true biblical doctrine that does not have the baggage of modernity)

“….My experience is that most mainstream evangelicals are so steeped in the experiential gospel that they never think about truth propositionally. (Barna found while 63 percent of Americans do not believe in truth, 53 percent of evangelicals don’t either.)”

(In this then it is not just an “emerging church” issue it seems to be across the board. I will point out that it is the emerging church that is addressing this issue… and while doing it taking the punches from those in the church who oppose change.)

“For evangelicalism (let alone emerging churches) to buy into that would undermine the very foundation of our faith. Theologian Donald A. Carson puts his finger precisely on the epistemological problem: Of course, truth is relational, Carson writes. But before it can be relational, it has to be understood as objective. Truth is truth. It is, in short, ultimate reality. Fortunately, Jim came to see this.”

(This is actually the opposite of Jesus’ teaching as He states that in order to know truth; one must know Him…Jesus came to fulfill scripture… so He is the Master. Jesus is the LVIING WORD which makes the written word fulfilled. Again, without Jesus, the Bible would be no different than any other book Jesus the Person makes the Bible, truth. Luke 24; John 2; John 5:39; These verses are a good start, there are many more references to this matter)

“The emerging church can offer a healthy corrective if it encourages us to more winsomely draw postmodern seekers to Christ wherever we find them—including coffee houses and pubs. And yes, worship styles need to be more inviting, and the strength of relationship and community experienced. But these must not deter us from making a solid apologetic defense of the knowability of truth.”

(This last statement to me shows that Chuck Colson misses the point completely… that to now Jesus is to know Truth. For without the relationship then we cannot know truth for Jesus is “Truth Himself”, to quote Chuck Colson from this very article.)


Chuck Colson is making headway in his understanding and to his credit is not on the attack against, but I see truly trying to address issues as many of us are within the movement itself. Though a bit misguided I see that he is respectfully speaking and engaging people in the movement to grasp what we are about. I know that it is a hard row as we are not all on the same page in the emerging church. Yet, as in the time of the reformation not all thought the same… that is why we have Lutherans and Calvinists and many other branches that came out of the Reformation Movement. So to look for cohesion of thought may not be the best way to see what we all believe. (One cannot look at the emerging church in a modernistic view as we are addressing the post-modern mindset to bring them to Christ so we are speaking in another language of sorts). Again I appreciate Chuck Colson’s attempt yet I hope he will see where he is falling short I his understanding that Truth is not just objective… a person cannot be just objective… and Jesus is The Truth and is a Person… which makes the highest form of truth… personal. To know truth one must know Jesus, the Person… and He will reveal it.

(I was talking to someone and realized why the emerging church is sometimes thought of not accepting “objective truth” and stresses truth to be a Person… or personal… We do not define personal truth in the way a modern thinker would, which again is the language barrier I was talking about. We see personal truth as in the context of the relationship with Jesus. It is relational truth. We are against “objectifying” Truth which is a person… It is like if one objectifies a woman… it dehumanizes her to a non person or object… in this case a sex object. In the case seeing Truth as purely objective would be like saying Jesus is only an object… like an idol of stone of wood… which to the emerging church is anathema and blasphemes. I know the modern church would see it that way also if they thought of an object being worshipped over the creator. Again, personal truth is not how the modern mindset defines it to us. It is not “what ever you or I believe and makes me feel good is alright” but meaning we do not see Jesus as an object… but a person… and that is why it is personal truth… and relational truth.)


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