The understanding of truth and church are fundamental to ministry. A German Protestant professor in Zurich, Emil Brunner opened up for me new perspectives on each. He is regarded as one of the top four or five Protestant systematic theologians of the mid-20th century.
He saw Truth as Encounter, the name of his book. In my philosophy and seminary days, I thought truth was presented in books that had carefully formulated propositions all in a logical order.
In contrast, Brunner highlighted that truth is relationships experienced, not doctrine tightly defined. Encountering Jesus is the truth, the way, the life. Life-changing encounters happen in the heart, not just the head. Heart-work is done by the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said, the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
The other fundamental new perspective came through his book The Misunderstanding of the Church. In his time when most church leaders thought of church, they had in mind church institutions, which in Europe were well developed over centuries. They saw the Christian church of the first several centuries as the “primitive” church. The “early” church is a better name. I regard the early church as the best source for re-learning how to do church more effectively in our times.Read More