Sunday 24 January 2016

Limit Not the Truth

I have just finished reading a novel that was recommended to me by a member of one of my congregations. The Last Templar, by Raymond Khoury, is a modern story that draws on the persecution of the Knights of the Temple in the Middle Ages. It was a great book and I would recommend it to those of you who enjoy a good historical mystery. There was one part of the novel that particularly grabbed my attention, however.

Towards the end of the story there is a discussion around the impact that a possible ancient discovery may have on Christianity. The content of an artefact could potentially crumble the foundation of the faith of many. The question is asked about the importance of truth and even the definition of truth. Is it believing in all the stories at a literal level or is there some far deeper truth that reaches beyond the stories? One character had a very literal faith and was faced with needing to find a deeper understanding based on their own experience the Divine. Another character never saw a place for faith or God in their life, but was faced with the mystery of life that could only be explained in spiritual terms.

What is more important for us; truth or faith? In my own life, whether the stories of the Bible are true or not does not really matter. In saying this, I am referring to whether they are factual and actually happened as the story tells. All of the stories hold truth though. Underlying the story is a theme, a relationship or an understanding that is still true in my life today. If I did not believe this I would have given up preaching years ago.

The last chapters of this gripping novel have reminded me of the importance of being open to learning and growing in faith in every encounter I may have. To hold onto an unshakeable truth embedded in writings of 2000 years ago limits the truth of God to a certain time and place. There is an old hymn that sums this up perfectly.

We limit not the truth of God
to our poor reach of mind,
to notions of our day and place,
crude, partial, and confined:
No, let a new and better hope
within our hearts be stirred:
O God, grant yet more light and truth
to break forth from your Word.

(George Rawson)

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