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Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Remember..."How did you come into the Truth?"
I grew up in the Presbyterian Church and I don't believe I ever heard anyone use the words "the truth" when speaking of their beliefs. It was just beliefs. You know, the ones passed on from generation to generation and being Presbyterian, no one in the local church ever would think to question any of it. It didn't matter. Behind the scenes, one could believe what they wanted and it was all so generic and nice that I can honestly say I never remember one issue coming up that maybe needed to be looked at, or anyone uttering the words, "new truth." Old truth was just fine and who cared.
When I discovered, as a teen, the really true Church of God, that seemed to me to be concerned with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that's all we heard about. People were asking each new member "So how or when did you come into the truth?" It was a nice way to say ask how long they had been in the church and from what error had they arrived. The word "truth" was thrown around a lot by that church.
Everything had to do with "the truth." We kept the true sabbath, the true holydays, understood the truth about being born again and the truth about unclean meats and how to have a happy marriage. There were the true seven ways to be happy or be a leader or study your bible. You could be called into the truth and you could be dismembered for falling away from the truth. There was the truth about tithing and the truth about not tithing. There was the truth about who God has chosen and who He had not chosen and who He now loved and who he was pissed off with. There was the truth about the end times, which of course, we were living in and Jesus second coming simply has to be in the very near future. In my lifetime in fact! We evern knew the Plain Truth about everything from trade wars to crime and queer men. Never heard much about the truth of queer women though.
If you wanted to know the truth, just ask the Church, preferably on the local level by way of the minister, who knew all the truth there was. We knew the truth about evolution and the truth about the flood. Often we knew the "plain truth" which is the truth stripped down to the really core truth of the truth and was so simple to understand. However, simple as the truth might be to understand, God still had to open your mind to the truth, or you were never going to understand or know the truth. But it was simple after that. I later found out that "God has to open your mind," meant that one who came to the same conclusions as the Church and leadership had indeed had their mind opened by God. Those who disagreed or only saw some of it were still in the grip of Satan or at best had a bad attitude.
Gosh, we knew the truth about life and death. No one knew how consciousness or quantum physics worked, but all things God, just ask! We knew where you went and where you didn't went. We knew when you went to where you were going and how to get there and who wasn't going along with you because they had yet to discover the truth. We knew when they would discover the truth and, while not as good as when I discovered the truth, it was not bad at all. What's a thousand year difference compared to eternity? Nuttin! We knew who was in the right Church, which would be us, and who would be in the wrong Church, which would be all not us.
We knew the truth about the God of the Old Testament and why he was so freaking mean and loved killing both animals and humans. We knew the truth about the New Testament and how the Son of the Old Testament God was the nicer of the two and canceled all the stuff His Dad liked. We knew that the truth was that this bachelor son lived alone with His Father, after everyone that loved him the week before killed him. We knew they lived somewhere and the Father never had a wife or female to keep him company. But that was just the truth. God was a He and if you were a she, then you still had to be a "son of God" just the same, because that was the truth. Of course, I had to accept the truth of being the Bride of Christ, but that was the truth too, so I had to rejoice in it.
Wow, we knew it all. Just ask! But once in a great while we discovered "New Truth." I can't tell you how amazing new truth is to discover. Now I may have been hoping that we would have discovered the new truth about the actual origins of man and the evolution of life over millions of years as opposed to the truth of everything being around 6000 years old, the story of Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel, but that was not up for discussion.
I thought maybe there was some new truth on why so many of the stories in the Old and New Testament are either scientifically incredible or historically impossible and unprovable, but no luck there either. I thought maybe some new truth might have to do with how the Gospels aren't harmonious eyewitness accounts of Jesus life, nor written by the men whose names appear on the books. But no banana there either. I thought maybe we'd get some new truth about why Paul never mentions Jesus' life, teachings, miracles, life events, birth or stuff like that, including why he never quotes him, but no, wrong again.
What really would have been nice would have been some new truth on how the local minister was just a guy too and didn't know everything and that was ok, but nope, nothing like that either. And it really would have been nice if, as a minister, I could suspect there was such a thing as "new truth" out there that maybe those in charge had missed to, but whoa baby, don't even think about it! New truth had to come from the top down and only agreement came from the bottom up. That's the way all churches area really. Top down, not bottom up. Bottom uppers are an endangered species in any church.
Recently a friend of mine told me the guy at the top of her church made a really good point in her church. Seems the minister fired the music director of 25 years without permission from the people. He said he was the guy at the top and it was his call. One guy at the bottom asked to speak and was given permission to do so. He reminded the minister that that is now how things are done and that he was wrong to do this firing on his own. Then the really good part comes up. The son of the minister walks up the isle and decks the guy opposing his father's actions. Police are called and it's all good! The bottom uppers won because decking the good guy never pays. I love the truth!
Once in a great while New Truth did come to the Church of "all Truth all the Time." But alas, it was always something like, "The New Truth About Make-up" or "The New Truth About Divorce and Remarriage." I learned these truths came from God when leadership was being being given a hard time about make-up by God's leading wives or some of God's leading wives left their leading husbands and the leading husband wanted a new leading wife. We did have the New Truth about Healing as well as leaders aged, needed care that they didn't need when younger and rethought the idea of only trusting God for healing etc. I'm glad that was old truth to me but I managed to keep that to myself and members in my care who asked.
But over all, New Truth just doesn't make it's way into Churches very often. They don't love to tell the old old story for nothing! As Mark Smith says in "Damn the Truth."
"Christians, unlike scientists, hate any and all evidence that goes against their theories. Theologians have a very hostile and oft times irrational attitude towards any evidence that would even suggest their theories need to be changed to fit the facts. To a Christian, a faulty theory is like an old member of the family whose mind has seen better days- something to warmly embrace and shield from all criticism. Christians, rather than being disinterested seekers of truth as they oft times pretend to be, are thus shown instead to be preachers of established dogma, opinions firmly set in concrete, with their minds already made up for them two thousand years ago by a Jewish rabbi. To a fundy Christian, there is no "new truth" to seek out or be discovered. So rather than seeking out new truth, they instead only seek out new ways to defend their old "truths". This is the reason you'll never see a "Research and Development" department within a school of theology. It is also the reason why, in defense of Christianity, no argument is too circular, no appeal to emotion avoided, and no straw men are left unconstructed."
He goes on to ask if a genuine new Gospel of Jesus were ever found, would it be added to the current New Testament? The answer is, of course, "NO" because all the truth there is, is already in the Bible. Besides, they have already found really great new Gospel writings, but one says the Disciples got miffed at Jesus for kissing Mary too often on the lips. When they asked Jesus why he loved her more than them, he came back with, "why does she love me more than you?" Great answer!!! Lousy Gospel. You'll never hear it in church.
One of the other problems out there when it comes to "The Truth" is that it gets suppressed a lot when someone who knows finds it. After all, it did take the Catholic Church 450 years to apologize to Galileo for noting that the sun was the center of the solar system and the earth revolved around it, not it around the earth. I personally think that 450 years between learning the truth and applying the truth is too long and certainly too long between apologies. Now the Catholic Church is not so sure about unsaved babies going to Limbo and may, in fact, get to go to heaven like baptized babies. Cool huh? Like they know, but isn't that amazing how something that was so much "the truth" for millions in the past, is now probably not after all...oh well.? This is great news for babies, if retroactive which I suppose it is or at least we can hope. Now those who thought one thing can think something else more comforting. Gosh, I hope this new truth does not only apply after a certain date. Bummer! All kidding aside, that kind of truth is just opinion because of questions raised about the state of certain categories of humans that die in certain states of being according to the Church. Don't mistake any of that for truth. We must not forget that Church Father's of the past were not above adjusting the truth to fit a real need. As Gibbon noted,
"The gravest of the ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius himself, indirectly confesses that he has related whatever might redound to the glory, and that he has SUPPRESSED all that could tend to the disgrace, of religion...(he has thus) so openly VIOLATED one of the fundamental laws of history." (On Christianity, Edward Gibbon, Prometheus, Buffalo, New York, 1991 pp. 131, 132)
Even Paul made a big deal about being duplistic. He would be a Jew to a Jew, a Gentile to a Gentile etc. which always left me wondering just what and who Paul really was. He said so often in the New Testament that he wasn't lying, I wonder why he felt he had to say that so often? Sounds like lots of folk thought he was.
So ask yourself, when was the last time my church found out there were more truths to understand than the ones they have in all their booklets and tracts? And I don't mean the Plain Truth About Eating Out After Church! I bet you'll have to say never. Church's don't really deal in truth as much as tradition and control of how those traditions are defended and apologized for.
Church apologetics really are that you know. They are apologies for the fact that there are those times when we can see that something about the Bible or a "truth" as explained by a Church just does not fit the facts as we know them in this day and age, and yet we will not examine them. Sorry, the old truth is THE truth and we simply are not admitting any new ones at this time. Churches don't do new truth, but are good at doing new ways to defend old truths, which might not really be true.
This attitude of all churches and religions really should be your first hint that something is very wrong with it all and perhaps it really is all about tradition, not making waves, money, control and keeping the old old, yet inaccurate story alive so we all feel better. Most are afraid they or others will be disillusioned if "New Truth" rears it's ugly head, but when it comes right down to it, do you wish to live your life based on illusions? Actually many do which is why they never question anything...
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