The Minister and Truth -- By: W. J. Mcglothlin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 070:279 (Jul 1913)
Article: The Minister and Truth
Author: W. J. Mcglothlin


The Minister and Truth

W. J. Mcglothlin, Ph.D.

The sneering question of the Roman governor, “What is truth? “may be asked in all seriousness, and it will be answered with difficulty. A distinction is sometimes made between fact and truth; the former term applying to things and incidents, the latter to relations. No such distinction is necessary to the purposes of this paper. By truth as here used is meant simply a statement which corresponds to reality, whatever that reality may be. With this definition in mind, let us see what effect the vital ideal in the ministry will have on the minister’s relation to truth.

There are men whose sole object in life seems to be the pursuit and discovery of new and hitherto unknown truth. They toil as pioneers and discoverers on the borderland of the known, now and then making a successful incursion into the unknown, where they pick up some new fragment of fact, or, once in a great while, a bowlder of truth. Their business is to explore and chart the newly discovered lands for subsequent travelers and settlers. To men who devote their time and energies to this kind of work we owe an inestimable debt of gratitude. They have labored in the midst of obloquy and opposition, without other reward than the consciousness of noble effort to discover truth. They have

given us most of our knowledge of the universe in which we live, and our power over the forces of nature. We cannot honor them too highly, nor can we render those who are now living more sympathy and aid than they deserve.

But the labors of these pioneer discoverers become valuable only when they or other men apply the results in a practical way to the various needs of men. The interest of the discoverer is primarily in the truth, that of the other man in men who are to be served by the truth.

Now the preacher belongs to the latter class. He is not indifferent to the discovery of truth, but that is not his business. His spiritual and intellectual eyes have been sufficiently opened for him to realize something of the dimness of the light that shines about him. He remembers that Paul, even with his great native ability and learning, his wonderful religious experience, and the illumination of inspiration, was yet compelled to write that we “know in part” only, and “now we see in a mirror, darkly.” With the old Puritan divine, the minister believes that there is more light to break from God’s Word; and not only from God’s Word, but also from God’s world. He feels sure there is a vast, indeed an infinite, field of undiscovered truth lying out before him. As the Greek philosopher, centuries ago, thought of himself as a boy playing on the seashore, and picking u...

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