A FaithWriter friend, whose pen name is "Jesus Puppy," gave me another quote to add to my favorites on facebook: "I don't lie, I fictionalize!"
We're familiar with the statement "Truth is stranger than fiction." When we read a work of fiction, we are apt to see a notice that any resemblance to someone living or dead is purely coincidental. I suppose that indicates a powerful writer who can make a reader wonder whether a particular character is a genuine person or just a "pretend" one. Then, again, every writer knows that to write well, one must "write what you know." So it is difficult to produce a memorable character for a story that does not in some way combine truth with fiction.
Because even eyewitnesses to a crime can disagree on what they saw with their own eyes, one has to wonder, along with Pontius Pilate, "What IS truth?" If nothing else, that should certainly give us pause. How can we guarantee what is truth, especially if we are collecting second-hand "hearsay" evidence?
Which is why Scripture reminds us to be as the Bereans (Acts 17:11). They heard preaching, but "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Our own Lace Williams gave us a couple of million-dollar words to keep in mind when studying Scripture: exegesis and eisegesis! The dictionary definition of exegesis is a "critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible." Eisegesis, however, is "an interpretation, especially of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter's own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text." In short, in the former the Bible speaks to us; in the latter, we are looking for supporting texts to make the Bible say what we want it to say.
So, how do we come to grips with all the interpretations floating around in today’s Christian media? How do we know if we are hearing exegesis or eisegesis? How do we know what to believe? We won't know what comes closest to the genuine Truth unless we dig for ourselves like the Bereans.
Since I am no fan of the "Left Behind" series (in my opinion it is a work of fiction with just enough reference to things of Scripture to confuse a mass of people), I took time to watch and listen to a fascinating program, one day, on the EWTN channel. I discovered my favorite pro-life priest interviewing the author of the book "Will Catholics Be Left Behind?" What an eye-opener! I had to buy the book. In it, I learned that the Futurist view of eschatology is a Johnny-come-lately interpretation of the “end times.” (No wonder my search on the subject in the Book of Concord was in vain!)
The author identified four major interpretations: Preterism, Historicism, Futurism, and Idealism. As I recall, Luther's view would correspond to a historicist understanding, that Revelation illustrates the course (or courses) of history rather than a view limited to events yet to come. But, this just scratches the surface. We may know next to nothing of the controversial viewpoints that separate Calvinism, Arminianism, Universalism, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Pentecostal and more theologies.
This all reminds me of the story about the blind men trying to describe the elephant. "Each was partly in the right, but all were in the wrong!" Could the Almighty have a purpose in all this seeming confusion? I have to believe our sovereign Lord does. He sends a variety of messengers, who are of the Truth, to emphasize one or more parts of Truth. This isn’t intended to turn followers over to competing messengers. His desire is to drive us to the only One who is all Truth: the Lord Jesus.
'Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth."' --1 Kings 17:24
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me." --John 15:26
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." --1 Corinthians 13:12