The Agora
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THE Truth

Even though "THE Truth" is a time-honored way for Christadelphians to describe the gospel, it is not really the best Biblical description.

That would surely be... "The Way":

Acts 9:2: "[Saul of Tarsus] asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem."

Acts 16:17: "This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.' "

Acts 18:25: "He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately..."

Acts 19:9: "But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way."

Acts 22:4: "I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison."

Acts 24:22: "Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings."

There is nothing like an equivalent number of passages that speak of the Truth in like fashion. One, perhaps, is John 14:6, where Jesus says: "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life." Actually, this is Jesus' answer to the question of Thomas in the preceding verse: "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" So, even here, THE WAY clearly has precedence over THE TRUTH.

And there is some good reason for reading "The Way and the Truth and the Life" to be -- not three independent phrases -- but rather a composite term: that is, "The TRUE WAY to LIFE" -- which is pretty much the same thing as the "True Way to the Tree of Life", with echoes of Gen 3.

The WAY has a distinct advantage over the TRUTH as a description, because it suggests something to be done, a road to be traveled, a journey to be made... not just a set of beliefs to be accepted or acknowledged. Because believing alone is never going to be enough; there has to be doing!

"We HAVE the TRUTH" really does suggest some kind of finality, as though we are presuming that, knowing what the Bible teaches, we may sit down triumphantly, resting on our laurels, so to speak. And this can be dangerous, very subtly so, but dangerous nonetheless.

Whereas... "We are WALKING in the WAY" suggests something that is not yet complete, a work in process, God and Christ leading and we following to an ultimate goal: the Kingdom of God.

One other point: in Greek the word (or one of the words) translated "true" and "truth" can mean (and often does mean):

  1. NOT that which is right in contrast to that which is wrong or false, but...
  2. That which is real and substantial and permanent, in contrast to that what is typical, shadowy, and temporary.
"The true tabernacle, which the LORD pitched and not man" -- in contrast to the first, earthly tabernacle of Moses.

Or, think of the old hymn: "The true Messiah now appears; the types are all withdrawn."

Check out how John, especially, uses "true" in his gospel, and see how often the second of the above meanings best explains the verse -- probably most of them.

Just some thoughts: not that I have a burning ambition to change how we Christadelphians talk about our Faith... but perhaps we could be aware of the effect some of our expressions might have on ourselves, and others.

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