‘Communication in the form of structured truth’

To stress the covenantal “I-thou” nature of this law is also to reaffirm the personal-religious character of biblical ethics at the same time that it recognizes that covenantal religion and its ethic are susceptible to communication in the form of structured truth. (emphasis mine)

This quote, from an old article by Meredith Kline about the two tables of the law, brings out a wonderful phrase describing the nature of the covenants that God makes with man: “communication in the form of structured truth.”

Not only does God’s revelation bring us truth, but he communicates it in highly structured forms. These structures are an inherent part of that truth. They are a part of the history of God’s dealings with man, including literary forms that transmit a coherent message within context.

Humans, in large part, perceive these structures because of the mind’s religious and moral framework. Divine revelation tailors its communication to the receiving mind. Further appreciation of these structures is possible through familiarity with historical circumstances and the apprehension of the redemptive narrative.

The human brain has been described as “the most highly structured matter in the universe.” Its physical structure lends credence to the assertion that human thinking also is highly structured and so divine revelation communicates truth in a construct that corresponds to the needs of the mind to comprehend and categorize.

At the same time, comprehension of structural truth also brings to the mind a transformation that molds it to the mind of God, Romans 12.1-2. Paul goes so far to say that “we have the mind of Christ” 1 Corinthians 2.16, which includes not only truth as teaching, but as attitude and action as well, Philippians 2.5: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (NIV). That transformation permits the people of God to be useful in their service to him with Scripture in hand, 2 Timothy 3.16-17.

The perfect correspondence of divine revelation through the Scriptures to the human mind testifies to (1) the divine origin of the Bible; (2) the goodness of God in providing such revelation; (3) the Lord’s desire that he be known and loved; and (4) the nature of truth as apprehensible by any human through the use of one’s mental faculties.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

4 thoughts on “‘Communication in the form of structured truth’

  1. Randal,

    Just a few thoughts and perspective regarding your content relative to the thought processes of man. As I view your article, the key word you have used is “structure” or “structured.” For the most part, man does not want to be restrained or have any “structure” in his thinking at all (he wants to “do his own thing” rather than “God’s thing”). This is exactly why we see our present ungodly society in the shape it’s in – similar to a ship going around in circles without any moral or structured guidelines. It won’t be long before this society self-destructs, because it has disregarded God’s “structured” guidelines on morality. It has literally cast off any moral restrictions that God has laid down in His word. They want to maintain their “do your own thing” and “if it feels good, do it” philosophies.

    As you look at God’s commands and moral principles, you immediately realize that they are “structured” or designed in such a way that will brings man’s thinking into complete alignment with God’s thinking. i.e., “let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). We know this is possible by the response the scribe made in Mark 12:28 when he declared that the Lord had answered the Sadducees’ question “well” by their “reasoning together.”

    As long as our reasoning coincides with God’s reasoning, our alignment with His thought processes are assured, and we then have the ability to render complete obedience to Him and his plan for our lives, but when we start reasoning on our own (non-structured), we fall into a pit that becomes difficult (if not impossible) to extricate ourselves from (Genesis 6:5). This is exactly why we must follow the instructions given in Romans 12:1-2 (as you brought out in your article). We are to give our bodies as a “living sacrifice” (vs. 1) – one that is holy and thus acceptable before God, simply because it is “reasonable.” We are “transformed” when we constantly “renew” our mind by the standard of God’s will – vs. 2 (our thought processes in complete alignment with His thought processes) – a “structured” truth (as you brought out).

    This is why Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 10:5 is very important. Unlike the people in Genesis 6:5, we must bring “into captivity every thought” to the obedience of Christ, otherwise, we will end up as they did. As Paul stated, we must “cast down” any “reasoning” that is not in complete alignment with God’s “reasoning” (vs. 5a), and that requires “structure” or self-discipline on our part. This is a part of “denying self” (Matthew 16:24), i.e., “Not my will but your will be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus’ desire was to align His will with the Father’s will – His thought processes with His Father’s thought processes.

    As followers of Christ, we must do the exact same thing.

    Mike Riley, El Paso, Tx

    1. Mike, thanks for that comment. The god of this world blinds the minds of those who don’t believe, so that they’ll believe in the philosophies you mentioned. Good mention of 2Co 10.5, also, as well as other texts.

What do you think?