Unbelief abuses truth through a deliberate act of suppression


The Bible uses many strong terms to describe unbelief, including hardening, twisting, blindness, deafness, unnaturalness, lies, deception, folly, rebellion and madness, but none repays reflection more than Paul’s phrase in Romans.

At the heart of sin and disobedience, Paul says, is a flagrantly deliberate and continuing act of violence to truth. Sin and disobedience lay hold of truth, grasp it roughly, and will not let it be what it naturally is or say what it naturally says. In this way, the deliberate dynamic of unbelief is to suppress the truth, stifle truth and hold truth hostage. What may be known about God, Paul says, is quite evident still, but it is adamantly denied by the determined act of will that is sin and unbelief.

Furthermore, unbelief abuses truth in these ways:

  1. It abuses truth through a deliberate act of suppression. Unbelief seizes truth, grasps it roughly, silences its voice and twists it away from God’s intended purpose.
  2. Unbelief abuses truth through a deliberate act of exploitation. Unbelief not only suppresses the real truth and twists it away from God’s true ends, but wrests it toward its own ends and its own agenda.
  3. Unbelief goes further still and abuses through a deliberate act of inversion. Unbelief not only suppresses truth and exploits it for its own ends, but seizes it and turns it completely upside down, inside out and the wrong way around, and then holds it there for its own purposes.
  4. Unbelief abuses truth through a deliberate act of deception that ends its own self-deception. Unbelief seizes God’s truth, twists it away from God’s purposes and toward its own, and is therefore forces to deny the full reality of the truth it knows.

Taken from Os Guinness’ book A Fool’s Talk: Rediscovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.

2 thoughts on “Unbelief abuses truth through a deliberate act of suppression

  1. Nate, although it took me forever to get through it, I really liked this book. It helped me better understand how apologetics is actually pre-evangelism–“it addresses those who do not realize they’re in a bad situation and therefore do not see the gospel as the good news that it is” versus evangelism “addresses the needs & desires of those who know they are in a bad situation”.

    I am bad at really putting myself into the other person’s position of their unbelief…trying to see things from their point of view. This book really drove home to me how I need to understand where they’re coming from better and not just accept their unbelief at face value and then throw my beliefs out there when I can, but instead to “push people toward the logical consequences of their unbelief”. The book gave some helpful ways on how to do this.

    About unbelief…it seems to me that sometimes unbelief is a sub-conscious, but willful act versus an overt act of repudiation. In our current culture, it’s easier to accept everything (behavior, belief, etc) as “true” than it is to seek out a single truth. In some cases, there is such a lack of self-awareness that it’s just easier to go with what’s culturally accepted. As you’ve said in your sermons, it’s a case of leading an unexamined life…”an unexamined life is not worth living.” This book explained how giving a gentle push with the goal of throwing a person’s sense of the meaning of life into question (their unbelief) can turn them into seekers…ready to hear THE truth.

    In light of that, what I am to remember and what my task is…
    “Time after time the known facts of our lives and of the world may be against God, but one day all the missing facts will be known, too, so our task as his people is to TRUST AND PROVE HIM NOW, in the meantime, whatever the odds, whatever the opposition and however agonizing the suffering at the present moment.” (All quoted items from A Fool’s Talk: Re-Discovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.)

    I took a lot of notes on this book. So good. Thanks for posting about the parts that resonated with you. 🙂
    Sorry for my long response.

    • thanks so much for your comment! It was indeed a very helpful book precisely for many of the reasons you stated in your comment. I need to grow in my courage of lovingly/tactfully pointing people to the logical consequences of their beliefs. Its a discipline that I need to mature in just like any other spiritual discipline. See you this weekend!

      – Nate

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