What Is Truth – The Decline of Biblical Theology And Doctrine In The Post Modern World.

Last Updated: 31 March 2023By

“You are a king then!” Pilate said.
Jesus answered, “you say that that I am a King. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” Pilate retorted. (John 18: 37-38 – NIV)

This question “what is truth” has sounded down through the ages. It is alive and well in the modern world, more so than at any time in the past. The question has refined itself to, “Is there anything such as truth at all?” It has become a statement “all truth is relevant and not absolute!”

The truth is that Truth has given way to ‘experience’ and ‘feelings’. The complete masterpiece of fine art, that is biblical truth, in all its intricate detail has become an abstract painting of broad brush strokes, subject to interpretation, feelings and manipulation.

In a world of instant information, exhaustive Bible study has become, well, exhausting. Doctrine and Theology are best left in the hands of scholars and professors. Unfortunately, many scholars and professors are of the liberal persuasion and have significantly negated much of what used to be regarded as truth in the Bible. Besides, in the modern world, whatever the truth is, it is unnecessary and irrelevant to the course of the everyday twenty-first-century Christian life where feelings and relationships are of utmost importance.

Consider the verses above. All four gospels mention that Pilate asked Jesus if He was the king of the Jews, Only in John does Jesus reply. So, what is the ‘Truth’ that Jesus came into the world to testify about? It is God’s Word as recorded in the Old Testament that Jesus came to testify as the Truth. It is that testimony of the Truth that is subsequently expounded and fleshed out in the writings of the New Testament.
The Truth that Jesus came to testify of, that He was the embodiment of, are the Doctrines of God and the ratification of the Theology of the Old Testament. He is the Living Word, the complete revelation of God. All theology is centred on Him. He is both the reason and the purpose of life.

Now, this is intellectual stuff, after all this is about the unfathomable riches of the existence and glory of God in all his eternal complexity and nature. It is the direct opposite of ‘experience’ and ‘feelings’ that the modern Christian craves.

Still, it is the truth that Jesus speaks about when he says “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” It is the doctrines of God that we study in the theology of God that truly sets us free. They are the absolute unchanging facts and truths that ground humans in a solid relationship with God, one that is not based on feelings or experiences which are fleeting, flimsy and whimsical.

So what does ‘Doctrinal Theology’ mean in simple and understandable terms?

– The meaning of DOCTRINE is a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief

– Theology means “Thinking About God,” that is meditating, mulling over, studying, examining, researching, piecing together and understanding God.

Thus, the common meaning of Doctrinal Theology in a Christian context concerns the principles and knowledge relating to our thinking about God. It is how we get to know Him, who He is, what He is like and how I can relate to him. It is the basis of our relationship with Him, our grounding, our standing on the rock. Without the doctrines of God and the principles that govern our relationship with Him, we have no real and lasting relationship with Him. Without the doctrines, the God we think we know is merely a god of our imagination.

Without the Word of God, without applying the doctrines and principles of theology to govern our lives, the Christian faith becomes prone to deception. Jesus spoke about this deception in the latter days in Matthew 24. He spoke of false Christs, presenting themselves as Christ and deceiving many.

Paul says, in the same vein concerning the latter days in 2 Tim 4.3 – “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

These days are here and now. People do not want the truth, they want experiences to feed their emotions. They want to feel good. Emotional relationships have become paramount. They want to be connected, like-minded, accepting and accepted. The truth is shunned because it divides, separates and demands requirements for living.

In a rational world, there cannot be many truths. Neither can you have varying degrees of truth. You cannot have one truth that is more true than another truth. In a sane world, I can know that 2 + 2 will always equal 4. One fact can never supersede another fact without making it unfactual. If 2 + 2 really equals 6, it means that it never actually equalled 4.

The modern world has become factless and truthless. Everything is interpreted based on feelings that promote the Self as the final arbiter of truth. Thus the world, by and large, has become delusional through deception.

There are Christians who do not believe Jesus was the Christ. How on earth do they still refer to themselves as Christians? It is as absurd as someone who believes that 2 + 2 = 6, still referring to themselves as a mathematician. How can one call themselves a Bible Believer if you don’t believe in the Bible? How can you interpret what the Bible says if you do not rightly divide the Word of Truth?

All false teaching comes from wrongly dividing the Word. We misinterpret by inferring meaning based on partiality and preference. We ignore other texts that do not corroborate our inferred meaning. Instead, we ought to rather extract the meaning implied by scripture and in context with other scriptures, gain a full understanding of what is meant. A fine example is the controversy of whether Baptism is full immersion by a consenting person who has chosen for themselves, or some right of passage that a baby goes through to enter Christendom. I could list many others.

The sound practice of Bible study has fallen by the wayside. We read to make ourselves feel good. We love reading about the loving Father but skip reading about the Righteous God of Judgement. We love the Jesus, meek and mild, but not the Jesus who picked up the whip. Like the five thousand who were fed, we love the bread and make him king of our lives but when the next day He speaks the hard things we leave in droves.

The modern age is all about convenience, consumerism, cancel culture, corporatism and casual emotionally driven relationships. Many churches and Christians have been caught in the snare of the modern age. Christianity, by and large, has become a multi-faceted product sold to gullible customers to fill chairs and offering baskets. It comes in varying blends and tastes to suit your every whim. Don’t like it here, then try over there!

Grasping truth is a complex, time-consuming, heart-wrenching, relationship-breaking and difficult quest. For Jesus, it meant going to the cross. For us, it is taking up our cross daily and dying to ourselves as we listen to and obey His teachings. It is like a puzzle with a million pieces. We can only ever piece together patches of the eternal mosaic, but the promise is we will get to know the truth, piece by piece, little by little and progressively be set free. Set free indeed from being ruled by our emotions and feelings, as line by line, precept by precept we learn to conform to the image of Christ until at last, we shall see Him as He is, and be like Him, forever. Amen