I’m currently reading Hutson Smelley’s Deconstructing Calvinism, and I’ve already realized that I as I read through the book there are going to be pieces of the book that I want to interact with along the way. I can’t actually explain how I came to this book other than to say that I saw it in my Goodreads feed where someone else was reading it, and it stayed with me as a book that I wanted to read.
In this book, Smelley’s looking at many of the main parts of Calvinism, testing them for their actual logic and for their Biblical truth (or lack thereof) and suggesting a way forward. If I understand correctly, he is a former Calvinist, and as someone who has adhered to and ultimately rejected Calvinist principles, he is in a unique position to actually sit down and write a book on these topics.
The first thing that has really caught my eye in this book is his discussion of how the Bible “repeatedly emphasizes the ‘truth’ nature of its information above all competing claims.”
I can never think about the topic of truth without remembering the conversation between Pilate and Jesus in John 18:37-38. These verses state:
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
“What is truth?” is a common question of our time because, in the postmodern society that we live in, truth is often in the eye of the beholder, and there is no objective look at and push for truth. If you want to know how crazy the search for truth is in our society, all you have to do is to watch this video on how college kids discuss identity to realize how far our society has come from being able to even define the truth and to tell people the truth.
Yet, God’s word is full of truth. Smelley references Psalm 25:5, 10 to remain us that we are supposed to walk in the truth. Then, he goes on to remind us:
Our God is called the “Lord God of truth” in Psalm 31:5. And in Psalm 33:4, we read that “all his works are done in truth.” God said in Psalm 51:6 to “desire truth in the inward parts” of man. Moreover, God’s “law is the truth” (Psalm 119:142), God’s “commandments are truth” (Psalm 119:151), and “his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)
It is not a stretch to say that our God is a God of truth. In fact, in John 14:6:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Truth is one of our big ideas about God. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines truth as:
Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies.
We are not speaking truth to people, and we are not doing our young people (or any people) a favor when we allow them to think that they can construct truth on their own. If their life philosophy is going to be that they can’t make an absolute statement or that there is not an absolute truth, how can they receive a Bible that is full of claims to be the absolute and only truth?
I do not think I realized until I started reading all the verses on truth that Smelley packs into his paragraph on the importance of the Bible as our ultimate truth how bankrupt our culture is on truth. I don’t think I realized that so many of our problems in our society today rest on a complete rejection of, not just God’s truth, but of the facts of science and history. This is a very exciting snippet of the book for me, and one that I’ve been thinking on deeply as I’ve read it.