Resurrection of Jesus as “PUBLIC” Truth Blog # 17
His Resurrection Is Not Just Private Opinion
It was a missionary to India, Leslie Newbigin, who brought the phrase “public truth” to prominent attention in the world of Christian literature. Newbigin was a missionary to India from 1936 to 1974 and witnessed the Indian culture struggling to find hope in their desperate world. He became convinced that Indians needed to discover the gospel as “public truth”. To him this meant that the gospel of the Savior’s death and Resurrection must be applied to every sphere of their lives – politics, law, sociology, psychology, economics etc.
Newbigin did not restrict this opinion to the conditions he discovered in India. In his 1991 book, Truth to Tell, he enthusiastically applies this teaching to the entire world. He subtitles this book, The Gospel as Public Truth, and insists that we must bring the facts of the gospel to bear on every sphere of human life. He objects strenuously to Enlightenment philosophers like Rene DesCartes (17th century), insisting that his “program of indubitable knowledge is a fatal blind alley” (page 33). Newbigin is not a grim enemy of such philosophy but seems to be almost singing as he describes the ample grounds we have for believing that the gospel is the kind of truth that must lie at the base of all reality.
Now isn’t it wonderful when we see evidence that this is true! And I am happy to agree with Newbigin that it is. At the moment it is true that the Humanist/Atheist establishment seems to be succeeding in restricting the gospel to merely private opinion. They are “permitting us” to say anything and everything we want to say as long as we just say it in church, around the family table or in other private institutions. Just keep it out of politics. Don’t try to intrude the gospel into psychiatry or education. The Supreme Court may have the 10 commandments on the walls of their building, but don’t try to get such ideas into the minds of the justices.
That is what our enlightenment philosopher humanists are telling us but scripture has told us that a change is coming. I will give just two examples in this brief article.
FIRST, The words of Isaiah in his second chapter. In his first chapter Isaiah had painted a doleful picture of how Israel had become a “sinful nation” because they had become as idolatrous as the nations that surrounded them. But the second chapter tells us that all this is going to change. In the first 5 verses it becomes obvious that Israel is going to hear God’s gracious invitation to, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob”. Then, when Israel accepts that invitation, they are so remarkably restored that they become a powerful witness to the nations surrounding them (read the first 5 verses of this chapter). These other nations, of all things, “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
I am saying, dear friends, that this is a prophecy of what WILL CERTAINLY HAPPEN when the gospel of Jesus Christ is regarded as PUBLIC TRUTH. No, this has not fully materialized yet, but it is God’s Word that is promising that it will become a reality.
SECOND, The words of Paul the Apostle in Acts 28:31. “Boldly and without hindrance, he preached THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and taught about the Lord Jesus.” Paul is not teaching his hearers to keep the wonder of “the kingdom of God” as a private opinion. He is clearly proclaiming the kingdom as PUBLIC TRUTH that will come to public expression in their lives.
THIS DID HAPPEN RIGHT THEN. The Kingdom of God did come in the church and in many aspects of life that Paul’s preaching touched. We can see proof that it was happening then even in the fact that Paul soon got his head chopped off. Caesar Nero did that to Paul because the kingdom was becoming so visible through preaching and the growth of the church that it was threatening Nero’s pretension to be “Lord”. That is the way Nero signed his name.
The wonderful good news is that it is still happening!! We pray, “Thy Kingdom come” and the fact is God’s Kingdom is coming. More about this in my next blog