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.

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

    • 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.

  2. J. Randal Matheny

    2:45 pm on May 28, 2015

    Tags: artists, consequences ( 12 ), Corollaries ( 55 ), divine revelation ( 2 ), relationships ( 25 )

    Certain people hard to understandOne of those popular lifestyle sites sports an article with 15 reasons why artistic people are difficult to understand. I’m not sure if I like the article or not. The Missus would probably classify me as one of those difficult types. Robert Frost used to sit on his front porch and stare out into space. Neighbors thought he was teched in the head. (Is it proper to put him and me in the same paragraph?)
    Does the cited article make excuses for artists? Or does it improve relationships by helping us to understand them better? Should artists get over themselves, if they’re as self-centered as the article suggests?
    Let no one use personality type or background to excuse oneself. This is a statement that, to me, seems self-evident. But it’s a controversial affirmation today, because we live in an entitlement society where people even create excuses for advantage. My parents made me work as a child. I was ridiculed and bullied in school. My sister stole my bedroom. We were poor when I was a kid. Oh, the reasons we can find to excuse our bad behavior!
    And now, personality becomes a big excuser for the artistic types. And for the introverts. Don’t forget the quiet types. But Jesus will not leave any of us be. He calls us to learn how to love, how to break our confining shells, how to step away from our issues and backgrounds and personalities, in order to be like him. He invites us to the fullness of himself.
    This must be a rant against me old self.
    ¶ As I was searching today for material on suzerainty treaties for the Portuguese devotional, I came across an old theological journal article containing the phrase, “communication in the form of structured truth.” That set me off, in a good way. Six paragraphs worth.
    ¶ It’s a joy to read friends’ good content online. John Henson writes today that “Rowling attacks religious body.” He notes that biblical teaching is now labeled political hate speech. That labeling and opposition will likely only increase in intensity. Rough times await us on that point. The perspective doesn’t appear to hold much hope of a turnaround. Hillary Clinton said earlier this month that “religious beliefs … have to be changed.”
    It seems a hard task, on the one hand, to oppose the homosexual agenda through political means, while showing, on the other hand, friendship and compassion to homosexuals and those who have same-sex attraction. In the shop where I was getting my hair cut, one of the guys gives all the signals of being a homosexual. When I walk through, I greet him warmly just like I do everyone else. There’s not much opportunity for interaction, but who knows when a door might open to teach the gospel.
    ¶ I changed barbers, found one closer to my office, cheaper than the previous one, and less busy. (I hate the atmosphere of barber and beauty shops.) The former barber also cut my hair badly the last time, seems he was in a hurry to leave with his son near the end of the day. So it was time to move on.
    I think I’ve said before that I hate getting my hair cut, but I certainly like the result, the feeling of a nicely shaped and trimmed head of hair. (I can still say “head of hair” in reference to self. For now.) Quite a difference exists in the process, or act, and the result. We may like one and hate the other, but reality says the two go together. Like planting and reaping. Take that into the spiritual realm, you know how that goes.
    ¶ Another pair of process and result is association and assumption of values or behavior. It’s all over the place in Scripture. Take Proverbs 22.24-25, for example, very clear: “Do not make friends with an angry person, and do not associate with a wrathful person, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
    Recently, on Twitter a headline appeared about a study that showed a correlation between association and speech patterns. (I can’t find the link now, please share it in the comments if you’ve seen it.) We wind up talking like those we hang around. Someone could have saved some money on that study if they’d just gone to the Bible, right?
    ¶ Jack Wilkie isn’t a personal friend, like John, since I don’t know him and haven’t had much interaction with him — maybe the Lord will allow that still — but his article is a good one, just out: “5 Daily steps to a stronger faith.” His fourth step doesn’t usually appear in such articles, but he’s got a powerful point to “cut out the junk.”
    ¶ I’m over limit, but let’s end with this thought, from Joshua 23.3: “You saw everything the Lord your God did to all these nations on your behalf, for the Lord your God fights for you.” May we have such eyes to see how the Lord fights for his people today. If that doesn’t drive us to prayer and courage, nothing will.
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