Jean’s Gospel: What Is Truth?

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40 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Jean, this may be your best article yet.
    As soon as I can function, I’ll hop in on some points.

    This paragraph is gold…

    “Regrettably, it is easy for disciples to conflate “truth” with the Law. When that happens, the familiar slogan, “Speak truth in love,” becomes, “Speak Law in love.” The Law becomes the sum and substance of truth, which distorts the Christian message. It can sound something like: “Christianity is a religion of morality; if you will learn and subscribe to our morals, then God (and we) will welcome you.”

  2. Jean says:

    Thanks Michael.

    All of our conversations on the blog which contain an intersection between Christianity and culture get one thinking about how Christians should talk about their faith with their neighbors and even enemies of our faith. It wasn’t so much of an issue decades ago when the assumption was Christianity was good or at least harmless to the culture. But in the current environment and looking into the future, I think we will need to sharpen our message. I hope this article contributes to each of us fashioning our own message of what we want the world to know about us, Christ and His Church.

  3. Michael says:


    Well said… and I greatly appreciate the focus on the love and compassion of Christ as central to our message.
    I think you have expressed my own heart on this matter very, very well.

  4. John 20:29 says:

    i was going to comment on something, but Michael beat me to it at #1…

  5. Duane Arnold says:

    “Therefore, when Christians speak “truth in love,” let us speak Christologially.”

    Jean, very nicely done…

  6. Jean says:

    Thank you John 20:29 and Duane.

  7. JoelG says:

    “Through faith, Jesus, by means of His Word and Sacraments, frees us to begin living as truly human beings for the first time.”

    Would it be fair to say that God is the most human being to walk the earth?

  8. Jean says:


    Not only would that be fair to say, but Paul refers to Jesus as the second Adam, and that is the symbolism in John’s Gospel:

    “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ ” (Jesus is the 2nd Adam; 2nd gardener; this time in the new creation He inaugurated.

    Joel, in Christ God regards you too as fully human.

    No more identity politics. Christ is the only identity!

  9. John 20:29 says:

    #7′ … Question not to me, but thinking on it…
    we hear that God (in Jesus) was the most perfect human ever … but maybe that description doesnt quite say it best… hmmm…

  10. Jean says:

    It works within the context of Joel’s question, because through faith, God does not impute the divinity of Christ to Christians.

    No one here denies the full divinity of the God-Man.

  11. JoelG says:

    Thank you Jean. 🙂

    Em, by human I mean human as God intended humanity to be. There is only one God-man, as Jean said. He is fully human, though. An incredible thought.

  12. JoelG says:

    Does anyone think the disciples where surprised or caught off guard by Jesus’ compassion for people?

    If so, how come?

  13. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jesus had compassion for some people – a good many he chased away – John 6

  14. Jean says:


    Your question is very expansive, and they certainly were. At this point I would offer that as we move through the Lectionary, in a couple weeks we will reach the parable of the dishonest manager. At the conclusion of the parable Jesus says:

    “The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”

    We are going to explore that issue.

  15. Jean says:

    I always love the story in Luke 9 about when the Sons of Thunder asked Jesus if they could tell fire to come down from heaven and devour a Samaritan village which would not receive Jesus.

  16. JoelG says:

    Looking forward to it Jean. Thank you for this teaching that has rekindled something.

    MLD may we all answer Him as Peter did..

    “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, “

  17. JoelG says:

    The incident in Luke 9 is a prime example. The disciples knew enough about God that they knew Jesus was the Messiah. Interested to hear what factors affected their ideas of how Jesus should act. How could their expectations be so off the mark? Staying tuned….

  18. Jean says:


    We will continue on this theme, but the disciples were still expecting Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom. What he brought was a kingdom in, but not of this world.

    As Christians, we live in the “age of preaching” (make disciples of all nations…). The ruler of this world was judged (John 12), but we live in a period between the cross (including the beginning of new creation in Christ (the resurrection)) and Christ’s return with the new heaven and new earth (the second coming).

    We live within a partially realized eschatology which is “already, but not yet.” All power on heaven and earth has been given to Christ, and he will reign from heaven until his return.

    By grace through faith in Christ, God justifies us in Christ. We live with the promise of the resurrection. We have the following blessing:

    “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
    blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom 4:6-7)

    Christ won this blessing for us.

  19. JoelG says:

    Thinking about what “Truth” is… Jesus’ Creative Word…. and John 6….

    There are varying theological views of Lords Supper. They can’t all be correct. Does Jesus, in His Mercy, view it all the same? For instance, if I go to an evangelical church and partake of His Body and Blood is that what I’m doing even though said church teaches differently than say a Lutheran or Anglican Church? Can an individual believer have a “higher” view of the Sacrament even though the church has a “low” view of it?

    I hope my question makes sense….

  20. Jean says:

    Hi Joel,

    A believer sitting in a pew can certainly have a different view of the Supper than the view of his neighbor pew sitter or even the pastor. However, it is not your view or mine that which makes the Supper a Sacrament or not.

    It is the words of institution. In 1 Cor 11, Paul, quoting Jesus says: “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

    So when the pastor serves the Supper, what is he “doing?” Is it “Do this” just as Jesus said, or is it something different? And what is he proclaiming in the Church while “doing” what ever it is he does?

    To summarize, the bread and wine do not become Sacramental because of what you or I believe at the time. They are Sacramental solely because the Word of God (and Christ’s promise) is added to the bread and wine. However, the Sacrament is salutary for the you and I when received by faith.

    Does that make sense?

  21. JoelG says:

    Yes that makes sense. Thank you Jean. Just working these things out. It is very comforting to know we have Christs promises combined with these ordinary elements. It’s is also comforting to know these things have nothing to do with us. Only His Word. The same goes for Baptism, even if some churches “water down” what is really going on. I wonder how much doubt and worry some believers would be spared if they knew it is all God working through these common elements to save us.

  22. Duane Arnold says:

    #20 Jean

    Nicely said. I’ve always had difficulty with the RC position about “priestly intent” in the celebration of the Eucharist – i.e. if the intent of the priest is not to consecrate, then the act is “mere externa.” It seemed to me to attach too much significance to the celebrant and runs close to the issue of “worthiness”. For me, it is not about the celebrant, but about the words of institution…

  23. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Yet there are some (many) who sit in the pew and deny what the “do this” is – often with the help of the pastor who reciting the words of institution will redact the wording saying “this is not really his body / this is not really his blood that you are taking”
    Heard this many times in several Calvary Chapels.

    Joel G brings up a good point – baptism, the supper and absolution are given to us for the purpose of comfort, (gospel) while others turn it into the believers work / action (law) and causes doubt and worry. (law).

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    #23 MLD

    Fortunately, God has not given me the ability to look into other people’s souls in order to know if they are “redacting” or not…

  25. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane #24,
    Why would you need to look into their soul? I just listen to their words as they say one thing in the institution and take it away in the very next comment.

  26. alex says:

    over 40 years sucking air on this rock and yet to be convinced by reasonable argument away from this underlying core belief in the belief system:

    truth is

    absolute/objective vs. relative/subjective truth and what you deem as an authority is the arbiter/referee of what you perceive as ‘truth’ to you.

    there is absolute/objective truth, the problem is that humans are limited in our ability to truly know what is a truly universal truth from a subjective/relative truth that depends on context, culture and a human authority to play referee and tell you ‘this is true’

    gravity is one of those easy universal absolutes we can verify and agree on, at least in our universe

    other ‘universal truths’ are hard to nail down as universal for certain.

    this is not an argument against God, it is an argument against humans misusing terms. words have meaning.

  27. alex says:

    still looking for the premise of this article. i can’t seem to find it.

    jean, what exactly is your premise here?

  28. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    If I made the statement “killing innocent babies just for the fun of it is wrong” – would that be an absolute truth or does it depend on context?

  29. alex says:

    I think i found it, is this your premise?

    ‘Regrettably, it is easy for disciples to conflate “truth” with the Law. When that happens, the familiar slogan, “Speak truth in love,” becomes, “Speak Law in love.”’

  30. John 20:29 says:

    Gravity … I think (have to look it up) is only experimentally understood and only world-wide, not so sure it is universal ?
    My point is? My point is a question. Do we go too far in attempting to explain the minute details, the mechanics of our Faith, our God? Dunno
    It is a simple message of reconciliation to our creator – the most high and only Holy God. Reconciliation before our death and judgement – seems like a good idea….

  31. alex says:


    gravity is what keeps the planets in orbit around that big glowing thingy in our solar system

    multiply that by all the other stars and asteroids and planets etc in our galaxy and our universe

  32. Jean says:


    Your 29 is in the ballpark.

    Christians sometimes make the mistake of interacting with the world on the world’s terms, by the world’s rules. This is borne out by the fact that the atheist and the Christian fundamentalist both read the bible with the same hermeneutic. This same dynamic plays out in the discussion of truth. The the debate becomes: Which set of morals is better?

    However, Jesus did not come to intensify or clarify God’s law. He came to redeem creation. On the cross God judged the world. In the resurrection, God began new creation in Christ. I would propose that Christians stop playing the communication game by the world’s rules, and speak Christologically.

    Note that I am speaking about how Christians speak as “Christians” and how the Church speaks. I am not speaking about civil laws are enacted. That is an entirely different matter.

  33. alex says:

    john2029, gravity in our solar system, galaxy, universe is a true universal. settled science.

    but, that you don’t understand that further demonstrates how tough it is to know true ‘universal/absolute/objective truths’

    in a back-handed way, you support my premise

  34. alex says:

    jean, thanks for the clarification

    interesting point

  35. alex says:

    I don’t disagree with your position, Jean. I’m trying to disagree with it (that’s how I test things and how I learn etc, due to critical thinking)…but if I understand your premise correctly, I think you’re onto something.

  36. Jean says:

    Thank you Alex. I think we’re, hopefully, all testing and learning from each other.

  37. alex says:

    Thanks Jean. I get frustrated b/c I don’t tick like most everyone else. It’s hard for me to get along with others when hashing things out. I really try to learn and consider and understand. I’ve walked a mile in the Atheist/Agnostic moccasins, dead end like any other, just as dogmatic, just as ‘appeal to authority’ etc as any other religious or philosophical group. they have a high view of science, but even science concretely verifies as ‘settled’ not as many universal truths as most would assume and the Atheists build what they view as a “rock solid!” belief system on 99.9999999% subjectivity largely based on the opinions of their gurus and leaders….just like religious folks they criticize.

    Jesus and the Gospel is not reasonable or explainable as you say in your article. Yet, I believe Jesus, the “Logos of God” aka God’s utterance, aka “the Truth” is real, a reality of our existence, but that belief is innate and spiritual and not rational/reasonable.

  38. alex says:

    most misjudge imo. “trolling!” or troublemaking or being disagreeable when it is frustration and wanting to know the Truth, but left with sifting through so much subjectivity and human nonsense.

  39. JoelG says:

    Alex I understand. These discussions are emotional and can cause anxiety. i lost my marbles a couple weeks ago. Jean’s a good man.

  40. John 20:29 says:

    #33 … I was married for over 50 years to a man who could talk shop with Hawking, so I do have a basic understanding of gravity – even of E= m x c x c … ?
    I still maintain that our understanding of gravity isn’t much better than our understanding of its Creator …
    I’ll leave the good pursuit of Physics to those with the interest and discipline and I’ll skip on ahead to the study of its Creator… Just think, He did all that stuff out there as incidental to His creation of us ! ! !

    truly the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (God knows I lack wisdom)

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