How does God show us His truth? And how do we show His truth to others? At the beginning of this week we saw how John Hus was burned at the stake because he stood by the truth he felt God had given him to testify to—truth that illuminated the dark corruption of the pope and lifted up the light of God’s Scripture. It was a truth that others felt threatened by and tried to snuff out with the label “heretic.” In the middle of this week we considered the impact of the Renaissance on both church and culture. Reformers picked up this emphasis on a return to ancient texts in their own emphasis on a return to the authority of God’s Word. But it also claimed that humans could use their own reason and intellect to discover truth on their own. The Reformers disagreed: humans were still dependent on God to reveal His truth to them, especially the truth of His love and promise of resurrection life in Jesus Christ. Yesterday we saw a painful part of church history called the Spanish Inquisition. In an effort to try to purify the church of heresy, people were questioned about their faith, and some were killed for supposedly getting it wrong.
As we saw in church history this week, God’s truth is going to be challenged, disputed, and questioned while we’re in the world. We can only receive His truth, not create it for ourselves. We can only give witness to it, not force it upon others. That’s because God’s truth is ultimately just that: God’s truth, not ours. Unfortunately, this side of Christ’s return, God’s truth is going to be rejected by those outside the church. After all, Pilate stood before Christ and asked “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Other times, it’s also going to be abused, rejected, or even wielded as a weapon by those within the church. For instance, Jesus warns against false prophets who are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15–17). This week in church history we saw two ways we can handle God’s truth. We can persecute others and set ourselves up as judges (like in the Spanish Inquisition), or we can give witness to God’s truth and be willing to suffer for it (like John Hus).
Truth is no less under cross re today than it was during the period of church history we’ve been studying. Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016 was post-truth. It was chosen because it is saying a lot about our cultural and political climate, when emotions tend to hold more sway than objective facts. The days we live in—called “postmodern”—tend to be suspicious of the trust in reason, absolute truth, and human progress that the Renaissance helped cultivate. Instead, truth and knowledge are seen as relative: they are only valid for the unique cultural or social context from which they come. As Christians, we believe that God is a God of truth. His truth has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ. How can we resist being tossed about by the fanciful notions of a “post-truth” climate (see Ephesians 4:14)? How can we instead give witness to Christ’s truth in our postmodern age?