Jan 26th, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 62 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to be talking about truth. There’s a lot of talk about truth being subjective - that your truth isn’t necessarily my truth, and we all must live our own truth.
My grandfather used to tell me not to accept wooden nickels. The idea there being that a wooden nickel may be the right size, it may be the right shape, it might even have Thomas Jefferson engraved on it, but it’s worthless, it’s not made of nickel – it’s made of wood. Subjective truth is a wooden nickel. It may look like enlightenment, it may sound like enlightenment, it may even feel like enlightenment, but it’s worthless.
What people are calling truth is a combination of opinion and fact. It’s not uncommon to hold an opinion or fact in such high esteem that you convince yourself they are truth. But opinions and even facts aren’t necessarily the truth.
Let’s a minute to talk about elephants. I’ve never raised an elephant, I’ve ridden one in Thailand, but never raised one. There’s this story about raising elephants that goes like this:
“A man was passing a group of elephants when he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they didn’t. He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to getaway.
“Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller, we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” He was amazed that the animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.”
What’s going on is that there is a part of the brain in vertebrates (that’s elephants, sheep, humans, anything with a spinal cord) called the reticular formation. One of the major functions of the reticular formation is the reticular activation system. The basic function of this system is to seek information supporting what you believe – then sorting that incoming information into two categories – necessary, and unnecessary. The standard it uses is whether the information can support what you already believe or not. If your brain can’t make sense of how the information could be used or interpreted in a way to support what you already believe, then it marks it as un-necessary. The information it deems as necessary, your brain then proceeds to make any needed alterations so that it supports what you already believe.
For instance, say you believe, as some do, that the Earth is flat. You have facts that support your belief. It’s a fact that when a ship “disappears over the horizon” out on the water, you can still see it with a pair of binoculars. And when the ship disappears from the binoculars view you can zoom in with a telescopic lens and see the ship again. It’s a fact that airplane flight paths are highly inefficient when viewed on a round Earth map, but the same flight paths on a flat Earth map become straight from point of departure to point of destination.
While these facts CAN lend themselves to the belief that the Earth is flat, they don’t undeniably point to that conclusion. However, if you already believe the Earth is flat then your reticular activation system kicks in and uses these facts to support your belief. Your brain in this scenario ignores the reality that, flat or round Earth, water always finds a level. As far as flight paths, isn’t it a more likely conclusion that flying that close to so large an object like a planet negates it being round and that the distortions in popular modern maps just make the flight path appear inefficient?
Isaiah 53:6 CSB says, “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.” In 2005 the shepherds for a Turkish village left their herds grazing in a field to eat breakfast. While they were eating one of the sheep decided it needed to jump over a ravine. Miscalculating the distance, the sheep disappeared mid-jump, plummeting forty-nine feet to its death. From where the shepherds sat eating their breakfast, they watched helpless to stop what transpired as one ball of fluff after another followed the example of the first one attempting to leap over the ravine and disappearing. The whole flock, almost one thousand five hundred sheep, ended up in a pile in the ravine. Upon retrieving their sheep, they discovered that the first four hundred and fifty sheep over the edge died on impact while the fall of the next thousand - was cushioned by the ones before.
At some point, the sheep, like the elephant, had been conditioned to believe something. The elephant that it was a slave to something that couldn’t possibly keep it, and the sheep that what was good for the boldest of them was good for the rest without evidence. So, my question for you is this. What have you convinced yourself is the truth that isn’t? How would you even know? With so many lies swirling around you every day, by what standard do you define what the truth is?
Here’s my policy – The Bible is truth, anything that raises itself up against the Bible is not truth. It’s an adaptation of 2 Corinthians 10 the end of verse 4 and verse 5 CSB, “ We demolish arguments  and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.” I apply that standard against the news media, social media, my own fears and insecurities even the sermons that I hear. If what’s being presented, whether fact or opinion, I can’t find or confirm it in the Bible then it’s not truth. If I do find it in the Bible, even if I didn’t previously believe it, then I change what I believe.
Too many Christians are wandering around like the elephant trapped by what the world tells them to believe, bad religious teaching, and erroneous theology because like the sheep some emboldened voice led them astray and they followed. My encouragement to you all then is to challenge the “truth” till you can prove it yourself. If it’s actually the truth then your challenge won’t hurt it. It will only make it richer.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…