Jesus: God's sure and certain word to an unsure and uncertain world

“What is truth?” Pilate’s words to Jesus reflect well the post-modern thinking of our time.

Postmodern epistemology begins with the “I”. Problems begin with the recognition that the “I” is a finite I. For example, the I who is writing this article is a white, almost middle aged, male, New Zealand European, with a Western education and a conservative evangelical Baptist upbringing. The way I look at life will be vastly different from a communist peasant in North Korea, or an animistic African bushman. For that matter, it will differ from any other individual from a different interpretive community than my own. Our thinking is influenced by our specific and limited cultural-historical frame-work.
With this in mind, Postmodernism insists it is not only impossible, but actually arrogant to claim objective truth. There is no longer ‘the’ truth in any definitive sense, but only what is true for you and what is true for me. 

Postmodernism pushes the following antithesis: ‘Either we finite human beings can know things omnisciently or we are necessarily adrift on the sea of "knowledge" without a compass and without a shore.’[1] In other words, since we can never know all things omnisciently, we can therefore never have absolute certainty about anything.

Postmodernism is right in reminding us of our finitude and cultural biases. This should keep us humble and teachable. But in response, it needs to be said that while we are finite, there is one who is not. God, as creator of all, has perfect knowledge. Furthermore, this God, who knows all things omnisciently, has spoken to us.

This fact collapses the postmodern antithesis. We finite knowers my indeed know some true things without ourselves being omniscient, because one with perfect omniscience has spoken to us. Revelation from God provides rock under our feet in the sea of creaturely finitude.

So, “What is truth?” asks Pilate. “What is truth?” asks our sceptical postmodern society. God’s word is truth.

At this point, Jesus Christ must enter our discussion. He is God’s final and complete word to us.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,… (Hebrews 1:1-2a)

The completeness of God’s word in Jesus is seen most significantly in the contrast between God’s speaking by the prophets and His speaking by His Son. A son is a reflection of his father. This idea was seen in the idioms of Jesus’ day. In John 8, Jesus rejected the Jews’ claim to be sons of Abraham with the argument that Abraham’s children would do what Abraham did (John 8:39). Instead Jesus called them sons of the devil, because their actions reflected Satan’s murderous intent. A Son then is a category of revelation superior to that of the prophets of old. As Son, Jesus is the prophet in whom we not only hear the Father, but also see Him (John 14:9). The beginning of the gospel of John calls Jesus ‘the Word’. As the Word, He is God’s self disclosure, not just in the words He speaks (like the prophets of old), but in His very person.

Jesus is also God’s final word to us. This is evident from the contrast between ‘long ago’, and ‘in these last days’. The Bible functions on a two age schema; this present age and the age to come. The present age is that in which we now live. It is characterised by awaiting the consummation of all God’s promises. The age to come is the time when all God’s promises will be finally and fully realised. Jesus’ first coming, with His death and resurrection, signalled that the end of the present age is at hand. Since that time, we have been living in the last days. The end is nigh. Jesus is God’s final word to us in these last days, therefore take heed to listen to Him.

The importance of listening to Jesus is spelt out in Acts 3:22-23. At the end of his sermon, Peter points out that Jesus is the prophet foretold by Moses.

Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.' (Acts 3:22-23)

The warning sounded by Moses is destruction for all who fail to listen to Jesus. This shows that Jesus’ prophetic ministry was primarily focused on declaring God’s provision of salvation. He wasn’t sent by God to give us a divine chocolate cake recipe. ‘God... sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness’ (Acts 3:26).

In a time of much scepticism and uncertainty, we have a solid word to speak to the world. The omniscient one has spoken. There is truth to be known, and this truth must be known.

“What is truth?” asks postmodernism? Jesus Christ, being God’s perfect and final word, is truth. Not just truth for me, but ‘the’ truth; absolute, objective, ahistorical and universal.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)


[1] D.A. Carson, The dangers and delights of Postmodernism, http://www.modernreformation.org/

No comments:

Post a Comment

Next Post Previous Post Home
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Recent Posts

Recent Comments