An Untheological Rambling
on the Nature of Truth & Communication
(by Rev Ng Seng Chuan, June 26, 2002)
The speaker began with a reference to the work of American literary critic, Joseph Brodsky, who once defined communication as an act of aggression. Agreeing with this, the speaker went on to suggest that all acts of communication are attempts on the part of the speaker to dominate the minds and personalities of his listeners. If this be true, then communication becomes, for the Christian, an awesome ethical responsibility.
How can we know, then, that we are dealing with the truth when we speak, and that we are fair and objective? The speaker hints at the importance of developing sensitivity to what is genuinely authentic. And this is by no means easy. We assume, for example, that the Scriptures echo the voice and the truths of God. Yet even the Scriptures are not immune to demonic perversion, as when Satan used it proficiently in the attempt to dissuade Christ from His mission in the "temptation in the wilderness" episode.
The speaker then went on to suggest a false echo of God's voice as represented by Abraham's offer of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14); as opposed to a genuine encounter with the presence of the divine, as when Peter bade Christ to depart from him, "the sinful man" (Luke 5:8).
The contrast between Abraham's hearing of God's voice and Peter's sensing of the divine presence in Christ points to a need to "rightly divide the word of truth". And the preacher's admonition? Never trust yourself! "Learn to listen. And if you listen hard enough and for long enough, you will hear a faint echo of that which J.B. Phillips once coined, 'the ring of truth'."
Chapel speaker for this Wednesday (3 Jul) is Dr Peter Tow, who was formerly a lecturer at the Singapore Bible College, pastored for 17 years and since 1994 was a missionary with Global Missions Partnership, ministering in the Ukraine and in other countries. He will give a Powerpoint presentation on mission work in the Ukraine.
Next week's chapel speaker will be our resident Lecturer, Dr Philip Satterthwaite, who has just returned from his sabbatical.