A Tale of Three Umpires: An Exercise in Truth
Paul TautgesPaul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, having previously pastored for 22 years in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Paul has authored eight books including Counseling One Another, Brass Heavens, and Comfort the Grieving, and contributed chapters to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is also the consulting editor of the LifeLine Mini-Book series from Shepherd Press. Paul is a Fellow with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of ten children (three married), and have two grandchildren. Paul enjoys writing as a means of cultivating discipleship among believers and, therefore, blogs regularly at Counseling One Another.
- 2016 Aug 31
It is no secret to any of us that we live in an age that is increasingly skeptical about the very concept of truth. What was once right or wrong, truth or error, is now simply a matter of one’s own personal opinion and judgment. Lifestyles that were once clearly seen in terms of black-and-white are now lost within endless shades of grey. Os Guiness, in his book, Time for Truth, illustrates this current state with the story of the three baseball umpires.
‘There’s balls and there’s strikes,’ says the first, ‘and I call them the way they are.’
‘No!’ exclaims the second umpire. ‘That’s arrogant. There’s balls and there’s strikes and I call them the way I see it.’
‘That’s no better,’ says the third. ‘Why beat around the bush? Why not be realistic about what we do? There’s balls and there’s strikes and they ain’t nothing till I call them.’
The first umpire represents the traditional view of truth—objective, independent of the mind of the knower, and there to be discovered. The second umpire speaks for moderate relativism—truth ‘as each person sees it’ according to his or her perspective and interpretation. And the third umpire bluntly expresses the radically relativist, or postmodern, position—‘truth’ is not there to be discovered; it is for each of us to create for ourselves.
Nowhere is this absolute belief in no absolutes of greater danger than in the realm of what man believes about God sin, salvation, and eternal life. The spiritual truth that used to be understood as black or white, death or life, heaven or hell, is now lost in an endless sea of preacher’s personal opinions. Therefore, a common response to the gospel may be, “You have your truth and I have mine. What may be true for you is not necessarily true for me…if there’s such a thing as truth anyway.”
So prevalent is this mindset that:
- To say there is heaven and hell, and nothing in between is now called arrogant.
- To say there is right and wrong, and that God that will one day judge us all is being narrow-minded.
- And to say there is only one way for a sinner to be saved is now absolutely intolerant.
Yet, we know that God is a God of absolutes. Our conscience teaches us that. And the moral law of God condemns us. Therefore, we need a Savior, and there is no area of life that we need someone to be radically honest with us about more than that of our soul’s need for salvation. Summed up, we have one enormous problem: God is holy and we are not.
In Ephesians 2:1-10, the apostle Paul describes the salvation of sinners with simplicity and clarity. He disguises nothing. He is completely honest with us about our condition as sinners and the glorious salvation God has provided for us in Jesus Christ.
This week, meditate on this passage of Scripture. If you wish to listen to last Sunday’s sermon from this text, you may do so here: Salvation by Grace through Faith that Works.