Quoting Outside Sources

All truth is God’s truth! Karl Barth is quoted as saying to young theologians “…..to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”

Jude, in his one chapter plea to awaken ‘sleeping saints’ to the reality of the danger of false teaching quotes from a non-canonical source (a book not considered Scripture but simply a theological and religious text).
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Though not an Old Testament direct quote, Jude accepts and uses a “text” from another source to drive home his Spirit-inspired argument. Here’s the challenge – How well do we know our culture? How well can we follow the arguments and philosophies oozing from the pens of bloggers, columnists, magazine journalists and full-blown authors. Since “all truth is God’s truth,” we should know the “arguments” presented on the “issues of the day.” But as Barth warned, “…interpret newspapers from your Bible.” Know God’s word so well that you are saturated by it. Then read newspapers, books, magazines and blogs carefully weighing what is said by a fixed standard, namely Scripture.

In a recent broadcast to which I was listening, Ravi Zacharias argued that in navigation on the seas of the past, the sailors, using their sextants, would find their bearings in reference to a fixed point in the sky. The challenge of our modern culture is that it lacks a “fixed point.” Truth is seen as relative, absolute truth is seen as non-existent, as brash individuals affirm (in an absolute way), ‘There are NO absolutes.’

May God enable those of us who have been brought to faith in Him to study, obey and teach God’s word carefully (like Ezra, my favourite Old Testament character – Ezra 7:10). Then may we pick up our reading material and under the prayerful guidance of the Holy Spirit assess the issues of our day!

By the way, Paul knew the culture of his day too! Consider his quotation in Titus 1:12 where he quotes an incisive comment made by of the Greek ‘prophets.’ “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” Paul adds his “amen” to this critique in his next sentences – “This testimony is true….Therefore, rebuke them sharply….”

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