The Pursuit of Truth and Passion for Jesus
One of the first books I am tackling this year is John Piper’s God’s Passion for His Glory, of which the first half is Piper on our desperate need to recover the convictions of Jonathan Edwards, while the second half is Edward’s own treatise on The End for Which God Created the World. I have read Piper’s half several times over the years but always broke off when I came to Edwards, primarily because I had to work through sentences that forced me to read so slowly it felt like I was going backwards! But I have persevered this time, and my newfound motivation has come from a fresh understanding of a point Piper makes toward the close of his four chapters.
Here is the paragraph in Piper’s book that propelled me into Edward’s own discussion of The End of the Which God Created the World:
Edwards has taught me that our concern with truth is an inevitable expression of our concern with God. If God exists, then he is the measure of all things, and what he thinks about all things is the measure of what we should think. Not to care about truth is not to care about God. To love God passionately is to love truth passionately. Being God-centered in life means being truth-driven in ministry. What is not true us not of God. What is false is anti-God. Indifference to truth is indifference to the mind of God. Pretense is rebellion against reality, and what makes reality reality is god. Our concern with truth is simply an echo of our concern with God. And all this is rooted in God’s concern with God, or God’s passion for the glory of God (97).
If Piper is right, and I think he is, then my reticence to plow through some difficult reading was actually revealing a heart that was listing toward indifference to God! The fact that a relatively low hurdle, like dense thought and tightly woven logic and strange vocabulary was sufficient to halt my pursuit of truth in such a fundamental area as why God created everything that exists (!) means my pursuit of God was wretchedly weak! What a helpful, if devastating, mirror Jonathan Edwards can be, even when I don’t read him!
This message – that our concern for truth is an inevitable expression of our concern with God – should fill us with fear and trembling because it means that our postmodern culture is almost unbelievably anti-God. It goes far beyond “God-ignoring”, since absolute truth is not ignored in our day, it is reviled and persecuted. The discussions we hear and have about the post-modern epistemology, where we describe how our generation views and relates to truth, are not academic affairs, but massively spiritual ones. To write out a list of phrases that we hear used to describe our culture’s view of truth, and then to substitute “God” for “truth” in every statement, begins to give you a feel for the spiritual dynamics at work in our day.
In the face of this prevailing hatred of God, we must be ones who fight for truth – both as a concept and in the particulars of life. If “our concern with truth is an echo of our concern with God” then we must be seekers and lovers and proclaimers of the truth! Whatever hurdles lie in the path of our pursuit and proclamation of the truth must be faced in the awareness that God is at stake. This work of overcoming, of course, will look much more intense than finally plodding through an 18th century discourse on the end for which God created the world. But it can start there!