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Old 04-25-2009, 09:11 AM   #4
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Default Two-Foldness of Divine Truth

For some time I have begun to look at the teaching that Lee put forward concerning “two-foldness of truth.” In Nigel’s article “LSM’s Eisegesis ─ How Not To Interpret The Bible!” he begins a section on two-foldness of divine truth. While there is nothing disturbing about the 10 “countervailing principles” mentioned, I do not find in these anything that is “two-folded” or potentially contradictory.

As a matter of history in the Local Churches, I was a member in the Dallas area for 14-1/2 years, leaving in August of 1987. During this time, I heard the term “two folded,” or “two sides of truth” many times. But as I look back at the clear statements of scripture that were touted as two sides of one thing, I begin to see something different. Instead of two sides of one thing, I have begun to see two things that easily coexist without any appearance of being different sides of one thing.

D.Q. McInerny writes a primer on logic, Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking (Random House, New York, 2004). In his chapter on Basic Principles, the fourth stated principle is the “Principle of Contradiction” which is stated as follows: “It is impossible for something both to be and not be at the same time and in the same respect.” (p.28) He admits that we sometimes hold contradictory ideas willingly because we either have not sorted out the truth from the fiction, or have not found the “respects” in which the two are different and therefore can coexist. But if we simply stop at accepting the contradiction and do not seek further to clarify or resolve, we have abandoned reason. “Don’t cloud the issue with facts. My mind is made up.” This is rationalization, which is “reason in the service of falsehood.” (p.29)

While only read this particular book about two weeks before writing this post, the underlying truth of this particular area had been in front of me for many years, although I did not see it fully. When I was in college in the mid 70s, I took a course in business law which was taught by a lawyer. In the class was an older man who was presumed to be a career Army man who had finally retired but was too young to stay home. On several occasions as we discussed one particular area of law after another, this man would begin to ask questions. He would say “what if” one particular fact was altered, then another, and so on until the answer was no longer the same. He would then lean back, fold his arms, smile, and nod in a small up and down motion being sure that he had found a hole in the law. But it was not true. After changing enough facts, he was now presenting something that was either on the opposite side of the same rule, or had wandered into a completely different area of law. No contradiction. No problem with the law. Only a problem in trying to say that the facts now presented should require the same result as the original facts.

Is this not a more honest observation about the “two sides of truth” or “two foldness or truth?” Are the pairs that Nigel presents truly contradictory? Or are they different because they are not talking about the same thing?

For example, in your second point, “the apostles teaching the same thing in every church vs. the different teachings to each church depending on its condition,” I cannot see anything that would be “two sided.” When I consider “teaching the same thing” the first thing that must be answered is “what is the ‘same thing?’” Since Paul’s writings were different to each church and to each individual, “the same thing” must not be a reference to the details, but to the foundation of speaking. In everything Paul spoke in any place, or in everything that he wrote to the various ones, the foundation was the existing scripture, and the accounts given to him by others of Jesus’ words and deeds. While it is not entirely clear how Paul came to all of his understanding of the events and words that had transpired prior to his conversion other than to note that he was “off the grid” for some period of time learning, he is ultimately “on the same page” with Peter and the others with respect to his understanding of the gospel. Unlike those who came to places like Galatia to bring Jewish laws and rituals, he spoke from the New Testament revelation. In that, he spoke the same wherever he went.

But that does not mean that he said the same words everywhere or covered all the same items (outside of the basics of faith). But even to the extent that he spoke different things, they were all consistent with the whole of the scripture and the gospel.

Deciding to call this kind of different speaking within a common frame work “two-foldness of truth” is not necessarily bad. But it is not necessarily good. Why? Because through the constant creation of these “dichotomies” that are not really dichotomies, we begin to look for them. We begin to expect that one thing must have another side. In the example I mentioned above, there is no contradiction unless there are no facts except for “speaking” as a singular, unambiguous word and the reference to “always the same” in one place and the obvious differences in the things written to each place. Are those the only facts? Are we certain that “same” was meant to convey that the same words were used? Or was it used to convey that all of the principles came from the same unwavering source — scripture and the words and deeds of Christ? I note that when we look at church discipline in Matthew 18, man is ultimately required to judge because he must decide to exclude someone from the circle of believers. Yet elsewhere Jesus said “judge not lest ye be judged.” Are these contradictory? Or are they in different contexts with different facts? Surely we are to judge and know error. But we are also supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Witness Lee has been quoted as saying that the truth must have chaos. (I do not have the reference in front of me, but when I first heard this, I asked on one of these forums and Steve Isitt pretty quickly provided it.) This has been given as rationale for some of the wrongs that were occurring at that time within the Local Church leadership. But is this statement true? Or is it a fabrication created and accepted because we have become used to the very idea that “truth has two sides” and that contradictions are to be expected. With a clearer head, I now realize that there is only a contradiction when facts are missing, overlooked, or miss-analyzed. Once all facts are on the table there is only one clear truth. There may be other truths that relate to some of the facts or to a different context, which is itself a fact. But to expect that there will be a yen and yang sort of two sides to one thing is illogic and by definition false.

To make the statement that truth has two sides is to distort truth and to deny it. If one thing is true, its opposite is not also true. If we think that we have found two things that are contradictory yet both true, then we have not determined the differentiation between the two, or we have not taken the time nor energy to disprove one of them and label it as false. “Speaking the same thing” to everyone is not contradictory to speaking in a specific and different way different ones if “the same thing” is a reference to the whole source from which all the speakings are taken. If I teach law in a university (I do not), I speak from the whole of the law. But if I also sit as a judge in a court, I apply specific portions of that law to different facts based upon the existing rules of procedure and come to the conclusion that one defendant is guilty, while another is innocent. This is not “two sides of truth.” There is no contradiction. The law does not say that all are guilty or that all are innocent. It says a whole wealth of things from which separate and different results arise once facts are added and the applicable portions of law used to analyze those facts.

Even when we say that there are two sides of salvation, one that is by grace and one that is worked out with fear and trembling, there is not a contradiction. Rather than giving conflicting sides of the same thing, we have used one word to label two things that are different. While this may not be a theologically correct statement, I tend to view these as a kind of equivocation in which one use of the word is more like “redemption” while the other is more like “sanctification.”

I will concede that we do not understand the predestination of God in the context of a freedom of will to accept or reject. But even this may be more of our own limitation to linear thinking in a three-dimensional world of physics, biology, etc. and a lack of understanding of the spiritual world outside of even time as we know it. There are surely mysteries of even the physical universe that we cannot explain. Even more so are the mysteries of God that He has not revealed. But this need to find “two sides” seems more of a yen and yang view of the world than something revealed in scripture. And it leads to error. It leads us to accept the idea that there can be truly contradictory truths and then take ones supplied (such as by Lee) without questioning. That is reason in the service of falsehood.
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Mike
I once thought I was. . . . but I may have been mistaken — Edge (with apologies)
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