Andrée Seu Peterson: Triangular truth


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, June 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. We close the program today with commentary from Andrée Seu Peterson.

ANDRÉE SEU PETERSON, COMMENTATOR: I would submit to you that knowledge has a shape and that it is triangular.

Call the three angles God’s law, the world, and one’s self respectively. Or if you want to be fancy, the “normative,” “situational,” and “existential” perspectives. It doesn’t matter. What is important to note is that God employs three dimensions to give us a full-bodied knowledge of reality.

Think of a flashlight. You appreciate the light emanating from it only as it illumines the stray sock under the bed. Likewise, God’s law—the “normative”—edifies as you see it give definition to your world—the “situation.”

You read in Proverbs that “a soft tongue can break a bone,” then one fine day you observe a wise woman defuse a potential catastrophe with a gentle reply. And you realize that’s what you read about.

You observe the downward spiral of a neighbor ensnared in adultery, and then belatedly remember the words of holy writ: “Many a victim has she laid low. Her house is the way to the chambers of death.”

And so we find a happy reciprocity: The more you know about the world, the better you understand Scripture. And the more you know Scripture, the better you understand the world.

All other things being equal, the Christian citizen of the world has it all over the non-Christian because of this. As Moses exclaimed in Deuteronomy 4: “What great nation is there that has statutes and rules so righteous…Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples.”

We Christians have a secret weapon—the truth—and we are giddy as the man in Matthew 13 who found hidden treasure in a field. It’s almost not fair!

The Christian is not naïve about human nature or caught by surprise. He is aware of the deep darkness of that invisible kingdom ruled by “the prince of this world.”

The non-Christian is constantly caught by surprise because he fancies that man is born good and only corrupted by environment. If we can just fix the environment! he thinks. So he resurrects that threadbare doctrine socialism, though socialism has never worked. He says it will work this time.

If truth is triangular, one corollary is that the best-lived life will attend to all three angles, neglecting none. The Christian who would reign in life will take care to imbibe Scripture, to be a student of the world, and to practice obedience. Only those who obey understand.

That may seem counterintuitive but it’s what Christ himself says: “To those who have, even more will be given.” To those who knew something but did not obey, he will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Someone will protest, “What do you mean? I read the Bible all the time and went to church.” Then Jesus will say, “It is not those who say ‘Lord, Lord,’ but those who do the will of my Father.”

For WORLD Radio, I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.


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