Truth and Glory

Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. John 7:16 – 18

The theological discipline that aims to teach people how to distinguish between truth and error is called “apologetics”. If you study apologetics you will learn about cults, sects, aberrant television evangelists and the great heresies that keep on appearing in different guises throughout the church ages. Google “apologetics” and you will find so many websites that your head will spin.

Christian apologists (called “heresy hunters” by their enemies) range from dull university professors to ecclesiastical vigilantes. They come in all shapes and sizes, and it is not unusual for them to turn on each other. Some of them, like the beloved Dave Hunt (no pun intended), have done legendary work in exposing deception in the church.

However, much of Christian apologetics would be totally unnecessary if we would simply heed Jesus’ words above. Firstly, they reveal the secret to discerning truth: An earnest desire to do God’s will. Secondly, they reveal the fundamental difference between the true and false teacher: The former is interested in God’s glory, the latter in his/her own glory.

The conclusion is clear: The person who seeks to do God’s will is sensitive to teaching that glorifies God, and so a natural detector of truth. Likewise, the one who seeks his/her own honour is attracted to teachings that can provide it, and to teachers who embody it.

Simple, isn’t it?

5 thoughts on “Truth and Glory

  1. Chris Lovie-Tyler July 2, 2012 / 12:52 am

    Hi, Tobie.

    I thought apologetics was the discipline of giving a reasoned defence of something, not discernment between truth and error. Or is there more to it than that?

    I haven’t missed your point, though. I’ve often thought, if we need a seminary qualification to discern between truth and error, most of us are doomed. But, I don’t think it’s that hard, particularly when you are part of a community of people who are seeking to do God’s will and glorify him.

    Thanks for pointing out the answer in that John passage.

  2. naturalchurch July 2, 2012 / 8:44 am

    Hi Chris. You’re correct. But in practice it pretty much boils down to the same thing. In order to give a reasoned defense you have to take a stance, and the stance has to do with discernment. So most of us turn to apologetics when we are not sure about the validity of a doctrine. However, truth is detected in the heart, not the head. Many of South Africa’s foremost heretics are highly educated theologically, and many of the people I know who have a profound and clear understanding of the gospel have never seen the insides of a theological seminary. I like your point re the community of people. Couldn’t agree more!

    • Chris Lovie-Tyler July 2, 2012 / 11:11 am

      Interesting. I hadn’t thought about like that before.

      “… many of the people I know who have a profound and clear understanding of the gospel have never seen the insides of a theological seminary.”

      Phew!

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