Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Standing for the Truth

Some of the people I greatly respect are those who stood for the truth of God in difficult times. For instance, there was Athanasius, who stood for the truth of the deity of Christ when it was under serious attack. The Council of Nicaea had taken the stand that Jesus Christ was indeed God come in the flesh, but the Emperor Constantine was indifferent, and one of his sons, Constantius, (the one who ultimately outlived his brothers to become sole emperor) was positively hostile and persecuted those who held to the position that Christ was God. Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, who was seen as the representative of orthodoxy, was sent into exile multiple times, being recalled only to be sent into exile again, as imperial policy changed. But Athanasius stood firm, and the truth of God ultimately triumphed. There was also Martin Luther, who stood firm for the truth that we are declared just in the sight of God through faith in Christ. And he stood firm against pope and emperor at the risk of his life (many who followed him gave their lives) to maintain this truth. Church history is full of those, like Athanasius and Luther, who maintained their principles in defiance of opposition and danger.

We should respect such men and, if necessary, imitate them. But there is a danger. It is possible for someone to take the attitude they are standing for the truth when they are standing for some relatively unimportant detail. There are matters of truth that need to be stood for. But there is the danger of taking some personal opinion on a minor point and making it something earth-shattering. How do we know what to stand for? We should start by taking our stand on the broad emphases of Scripture. If Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16,17; John 17:17; 2 Peter 1:20,21), we need to trust it, not only as our guide to what is true, but as to what is important. Many times the Scriptures clearly state what the important issues are, and those are what we should emphasize (Deuteronomy 13:1-3; 1 John 4:1-3; Galatians 1:8,9). Also, we need to realize that we are sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; 1 John 1:8-10) and do not always know all the answers (1 Corinthians 3:18; 8:1-3; Romans 11:33). This does not mean we should adopt the modern false humility of claiming not to know anything. We are commanded to stand for God's truth, though with love and gentleness (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Ephesians 4:14-16). But this must be God's truth, not every incidental opinion we happen to hold. It is good to respect and wish to imitate those who have stood for and do stand for God's truth. But we need to be sure that what we are standing for genuinely qualifies for this.


  1. Wisdom and simplicity seem to go hand in hand:

    It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you do know that ain’t so.
    —Will Rogers

    But the problem is that you cannot reexamine “what you do know” all the time. Yet there are some surprises in life every once in a while. For me, one of those is “Freed From the Shopkeeper's Prison How to Run a Lutheran Evangelism Program” by Rev. H. R. CurtisTrinity Lutheran Church – Worden, ILZion. Here is the link: http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2011-05-22T13%3A18%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=7
    It’s the next to last posting on the page.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  2. Thank you for the reading suggestion, it sounds interesting and I may have to follow up on it. (So many books, so little time.) But I think it only fair to warn you that based on the synopsis I have read that while I suspect I agree with a considerable amount of what this book says I do not think I will be able to accept it in it's entirety. (My own current views are of course reflected in this blog.) If you have specific issues you would like to discuss in this regard, I would be more than willing to discuss them with you.