The Preacher Says....  
  The Truth Shall Set You Free  
  There are two kinds of attitudes towards the truth. There are those who cover their ears and will not hear it at all, and there are those who deny it altogether. Jesus had told jesting Pilate that he had come into the world to preach the truth and that those who are not deaf will hear me. The other attitude, a complete of the existence of truth, evidenced by the actions of Pilate who washed his hands of the matter (John 18. 37, 38). To answer the question "What is truth?", suffice it to say that truth is reality, and the verses in John 18 indicate that people then had just as much trouble coming to grips with reality as they do today.

What makes people so hard of hearing may be attributable to the social engineering of men like Herbert Spenser (1820 - 1903), a naturalist and social scientist who may have been among those responsible for the social evolution occurring in the last century, under the theory that if man is progressing, let’s make him progress a little faster. As we tinker with the environment we will change social behavior. Fifty years of experience have proved this wrong. But children continue to go off and get BA’s and PhD’s in sociology and work to tear down slums and build housing developments. These efforts are laudable, they ease human suffering, but none of this changes human nature.

The social scientist, an eternal optimist in the face of 6,000 years of history continues to believe that man will change for the better. Supported by the Women’s Lib Movement, everybody’s trying to pass laws that say men and women are the same. Though not a favorite of mine, this is in the face of Freud’s statement that “anatomy is destiny”. The Bible has plenty to say on this subject. The book is brimful of examples. Marriage is expressed in a figure of the relationship between Christ and the church; Christ the bridegroom, the bride the church. Paul preached the ordinance of God when he stated that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God (Cor 11. 3). By this hierarchy God has established the fundamental basis of society. From the beginning man has physically dominated the woman. When this fact is challenged, women become as permissive and bold as men. At the risk of oversimplification, men are threatened by masculine women; God’s creation is overturned and the family structure is in upheaval. If you don’t like my example, pick another. But the point is, some social scientists become so enamored of their own ideas that they must strive to make them true. Followers of Spenser and Gloria Steinam are perfect examples; deaf to the truth, blind leaders of the blind, they all fall in the ditch. Illusionists, they may know the truth, but it suits their purposes to have us believe that what life has to offer is fancy cars, money and power, sexiness, blonde hair and everlasting youth. Of course what life really holds, in a philosophical sense, is a little pleasure and pain on the way to the grave because life is a tragedy. So much for those who are deaf to the truth.

As for the atheistic existentialists like Jean Paul Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir, representatives of those who deny the truth and tout the universal meaninglessness of life, some have tried to do good with this philosophy, but when the only thing certain is that man is free, you can see the trouble that can lead to. Theology has to be relevant. Weak kneed theologians justify today’s “anything goes” morality with a fancy name like “situational ethics”. Pursuit of this idea justifies conduct that can only lead to pain and emotional scars, e. g., Sweden and its high suicide rate.

Religion has crumbled under the onslaughts of science with subtle inflation of the human ego that accompanies man’s trifling accomplishments when measured on the scale of the universe. With an absence of hope and a removal of sanctions, a religious life degenerates into a frenzied existence. The existential world has been tried and found wanting. We need a new set of moral standards, say the social scientists. But based on what? We need for religion “Christianity” to make a comeback. Not to a sensaround religion, where feelings prevail over beliefs. This is dangerous. Emotions are transient, and euphoria can morph into depression. And traditional churches still cling to a sort of pantheism. They see God in nature and order in the universe. Very true. But they also see the Bible as fable or part fable. Children need instruction and the discipline of Sunday School. So the children learn and say, "I’ll do my best, and when they pass out rewards, I’ll get mine along with everybody else. After all, I don’t want to have anything to do with a God that’s not merciful. He must conform to my image." The world and it’s people are in a mess.

Well, the title of this talk is, “The truth shall make you free”, presumably to take care of the mess. This Bible quote begins with the words, "know the truth". That’s a commandment made by Christ. It is clear from the teachings of Christ that if you would follow him, you must accept the Bible as inspired (John 5. 39). If you can’t accept the Bible as inspired, then you can’t call yourself a Christian, and the statement, know the truth and the truth shall make you free, is meaningless. If you want to obey Christ’s commandment, if you want to know the truth, what do you want to be free from? Not existentially free, but free from the bondage of death and sin which brings death, for the wages of sin is death. Deafness and denial of truth are used today as protective devices to cover up the loss of religion and to cultivate the illusions that shield us from stark reality. Christianity (or religion) has always provided a buffer against veritable insanity. Where has it gone?

There are two themes which run throughout the Bible, (1) it is not in man to direct his steps, and (2) all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. So what is the truth we seek within this framework? We find the answer expressed in what would seem a desultory manner: here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept, but when seen as a whole, it is a masterpiece of consistency. Kierkegaard, the gloomy Danish theologian, said in his book EITHER/OR, either choose finite things, or choose God; the two choices are mutually exclusive. In other words, you cannot serve God and mammon.