Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The seventh lie is..."They preach only doctrinal truth and it is without love and that will always lead to legalism." No.. wait, I mean the seventh lie is..."They preach only love and it is without doctrinal truth and that will always lead to heresy."

Well which is the lie here? Neither. Both are true. The lie is the idea that either one of these [Revelational truth or relational love] could really be experienced to the exclusion of the other. That's impossible.

Belief [Revelational truth] always leads to behavior [Relational love] and behavior [Relational love] is to always be based on legitimate belief. [Revelational truth] To preach doctrine afraid of or divorced from loving relationships IS legalism and to preach love afraid of or divorced from doctrinal truth IS heresy.

This argument is sometimes crouched in terms of "relational truth" and "propositional truth" and can cause some divisive attitudes among Kingdom people particularly those of the Emerging Church group and others that are a more fundamentalist kind of folks.

In one of Chuck Colsons articles he referenced a young theologian from the Emerging Church crowd who challenged him about propositional truth. Colson had said.."Emerging church leaders are trying to translate the gospel for a postmodern generation. That's a commendable goal, I agree. Though in their effort to reach postmoderns—who question the existence and knowability of truth—I expressed fear that they are coming dangerously close to teaching that objective truth does not exist."

That young theologian then said to Colson, "Truth is paradoxical, simultaneously personal and propositional. It is objectively true that Jesus Christ is Lord no matter what anyone thinks about it. But, Propositional truth is not the highest truth. Indeed, the highest truth is personal."

So the arument can become not so much which is true truth but which is the highest true truth.

My experience has been that this particular argument has been seen before. Granted, it was using different words but the argument was the same to a great degree. It was the Charismatic use of "Rhema" and the Fundamentalist use of "Logos." The former was viewed as an utterance that the Spirit gives to a person [Charismatics say] and the latter is viewed as the Word given whether in Jesus Himself or the scriptures or preaching about the text of scripture. [The Fundamentalists say.]

Charismatics often trusted what their belief system said the Spirit had given them as a personal word [Rhema] so much that it was seen by them to be of greater authority than was the written word. THAT is heresy in my books.

Fundamentalists trusted their knowledge of and exegesis of the Bible [Logos] with such abandonment that it gave them a personal authority so as to almost bring about the elimination of any need of futher personal enlightenment and anointing of the Spirit for a better understanding of the text. THAT is legalism in my books.

There has to be a marriage of both the personal and propositional it seems to me for there to be real truth. It is true that God exists and has spoken [Logos] in both the living Word [Logos] and the written Word. [Bible] But that is meaningless to us UNLESS there is a word [Rhema] spoken unmistakeably to us by the Holy Spirit revealing the meaning of the logos that brings conviction, insight, faith, etc., and results in a real relationship with the God who made us and has spoken to us.

There is little doubt then, that from the beginning of our relationship with God, as we read God's Word, which is referred to as the "logos," the Spirit will give us a greater knowledge of the God we love and serve. We WILL, then, begin to be able to offer to non-believers the truth that we now know.

But we must not fall into the trap of believing that the truth they need is believing right doctrine. They need to see the truth of God's love for them and how He has expressed that by being willing to relate to them through the reality of the person of Jesus Christ. [The gospel] I'm not saying TRUTH is a relative [conditional] thing here. I'm saying WE, as Christians, are the relative [conditional] thing here.

So I do not deny the reality of absolute truth. But I do believe that Absolute Truth is first of all a Person who desires relationship with others. As I see Him in scriptures, walk this earth for those thirty-three years, I see Him doing so with a heart for relationships, NOT for the setting down of a system of rules and regulations to perform. He is Himself love and truth. Or we could say He is Himself truth and love.

This is what I'm to be expressing in my preaching and living. A life that manifests love in relationships and one that is certainly guided by the Word of God. [Jesus] [Bible] [Logos] But my purpose is not to present to unbelievers a standard of right and wrong in belief but of a life of love and grace in relationships. Thus, knowing truth takes on a whole new biblical relational sense for me personally: knowing means loving. You can't have one without the other.

You've heard many many times the statement that says 'people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.' I wanted us to hear it one more time because knowing [propositional truth] is reality and loving/caring [relational truth] is also reality. And it would be a lie to believe one without the other.


Aussie John said...


I've looked forward to #7, and you certainly didn't disappoint.

"But I do believe that Absolute Truth is first of all a Person who desires relationship with others."


If only those who claim to be followers of Christ, especially those in leadership could share your attitude, and realise, to use your words, "... my purpose is not to present to unbelievers a standard of right and wrong in belief but of a life of love and grace", which is the RESULT of being in relationship with the One who is Absolute Truth.

It seems to me that the other six lies are connected to a failure to realize #7.

I can't help the great Australian accolade, "Good on you mate!!" :)

Rex Ray said...

I’m glad Aussie John was first; expressing the best thing you wrote because I tend to look for things I disagree with that might portray a ‘negative’ mood on your good post.

With that said, I believe you saying it’s true “They preach only doctrinal truth and it is without love…” is a little on the oxymoron side because doctrinal truth without love is not doctrinal truth.

I’ll illustrate that with Al Mohler’s statement using the same type of reasoning:

“They [conservatives] believe in the priesthood of the believers but not the priesthood of the believer because it leaves too much freedom for the individual…conservatives are the party of truth while the moderates are the party of freedom.”

Mohler is wrong because Jesus said truth will set us free. Therefore truth without freedom is not truth. And doctrinal truth without love is not true.

IMHO, doctrinal truth without love is a little like Jim Jones and Kool Aid…you end up with neither.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I'm not sure why, but it took me longer to put this one together the way I wanted it to be more than any of the others. It wasn't so much I didn't know what I wanted to say as it was to say it the way I really see it took a delicate balance.

Your comments are always encouraging and I LOVE that accolade. Thanks.


Your final statement here..."IMHO, doctrinal truth without love is a little like Jim Jones and Kool Aid…you end up with neither."...may have been intended as humor [and it was that] but it says pretty succinctly EXACTLY what I was saying in the post. Good comment.

Rex Ray said...

Thanks, but I didn’t know I was making a joke. :)

Paul Burleson said...


Some people are humorous and don't even know it. Like some people are good looking and don't know it. [Are you that too?] ;)

Chris Ryan said...

So much could be said about the plethora of cultural philosophies of truth that permeate our understandings.

This, I think, is the best articulated *Biblical* philosophy of truth I have ever seen. Thank you so much for avoiding the either/or mindset that so often makes it impossible for sides to come together. So often it is both/and, but we just refuse to see it.

Paul Burleson said...


Coming from someone whose views I've grown to respect on any subject, this is quite a compliment.

I trust you knew of our prayers for you during your time with your Grandfather's memorial service. I KNOW you brought truth and comfort to all present.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Justice and Mercy
Letter and Spirit
Law and Grace
Truth and Love

I remember sitting in my systematic theology class in seminary when a light bulb came on in my head.

My professor was talking about the need for Christians to develop a "cruciform theology" (A theology of the cross)

He suggested that Christian theology and practice are best expressed in the midst of theological tension. In other words, like a rubber band being pulled in both directions, Truth (ie between doctrine and relational) is experienced (and expressed) stretched and straining in the middle of two seeminglp paradoxical ideas.

He said The CROSS (Humanity/Divinity, Cross/Crown, suffering/celebration)is the best example of this reality.

I think another light bulb has been turned on today for me. Thanks.

Paul Burleson said...


Thank you for an enlightening and kind comment.

It'sd old hat now but James I. Packer first introduced me to the "antinomy" concept in his forward to a new release of 'The Death of Death In The Death of Christ' by John Owen.

That word, as you know. refers to two seemingly mutually exclusive concepts that run parallel like train tracks. When you stand in the center of such tracks they appear to come together when you look to the horizon

Packer said theological parallel truths don't "appear" to come together. They, in fact, do. But it's in eternity. I can wait til then. But it's good to hold to both in mystery now I believe. I see you do too.

Rex Ray said...

Am I good looking? Hey! My looks got up and left a long time ago. The worst part is it didn’t go alone.

Nine years ago, my mother at 93, introduced me.
“Mrs. Ray, he can’t be your son – you’re not that old!”

On another occasion, the ultimate was: “You don’t have to introduce me to Mr. Ray; I went to school with his twin boys; Hez and Rex.”
I wanted to kill her.

The rubber band being stretched reminds me of a preacher saying, “When one is ‘squeezed’, what comes out reveals the truth of the individual.”

He told of a mission trip where the missionary had gotten a new car after three years of waiting. A truck trying to pass, scraped the side; and caught their bumper. (They were in a country that didn’t have car body shops.) After being drug down the highway, the truck stopped with the two vehicles stuck together.

The angry driver and his large buddy got out without any shirts. The missionary was a small man, but the preacher had been a boxer and was thinking, “If I get the first lick in on the big guy, I can take the other one.”

The missionary said, “This man has come all the way from America to tell you about the love of Jesus. Listen to him.”

The two accepted Jesus while kneeling in a ditch.

That could be a story illustrating love with true doctrine; the next story could be ‘love’ without true doctrine.

This year, a newspaper told the story of a soldier receiving the Bronze Star. He entered a house that had several of the enemy. He killed the last one while both wrestled with knives. At the end, the enemy could have scratched his face, but the several strokes on his cheek were soft. The soldier said, “It was if he was forgiving me.”

The book, 'The Death of Death In The Death of Christ', is an interesting title. I believe, to be technical correct, the title should be ‘The Death of Spiritual Death in the Spiritual Death of Christ Revealed by the Garden and Calvary’.

Death is no big deal (been close twice in one year) compared to Spiritual death.