Your Journey Starts Here

Whether you have already read the book "Through the River" or are interested in the topic of truth and how it impacts your faith and relationships, we welcome you and look forward to interacting with you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Applying Truth Lenses to Tough Issues

One of the bloggers to review our book is working through a very difficult issue - homosexuality in the church. He worked to apply how our truth lenses might percieve this issue and we took some time to respond and give some feedback. Take a minute to read his review and our response.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Understanding Truth within a Global Conversation

As each of you are on your truth journey, we would like to recommend a specific exercise to strengthen your understanding of truth and challenge your thinking. We are involved in the Lausanne Movement and they have launched a Global Conversation leading up to next years Congress in South Africa. This is the largest interaction of evangelicals in the world and it is a wonderful opportunity to see how our brothers and sisters understand truth as it applies to key topics.

Take a minute to visit the Global Conversation page, read the key articles and jump in on the conversation. Click here to begin!

Why is this so important? We are convinced that unless you are asking questions from the larger world, challenging your assumptions and humbly listening to others, you will never grow as Christ intended you to. It is easy to become more and more entrenched in our own ways of looking at the world, but it takes courage and strength to reach out.

Now we are not saying that it doesn't take courage to stand for what you believe and to not be swayed by deception. But what we are saying is that we need to be always learning, always asking questions, and always open to what God may have for us today.

Blessings as you join this global conversation!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Check out some of the reviews posted on Amazon

We are getting some good thoughts posted to Amazon about the book. Here are a few of the positive along with some of the more critical. You can see the full reviews by clicking here. We are so excited to hear people talking about this topic and considering it as something that impacts their lives, faith, relationships and outreach.

"This was a transparent look at the three major ways of looking at truth: Positivism, Instrumentalism, and Critical Realism. It is easy to read and avoids the textbook word use that would normally fill a book on this topic. I thought the authors approached the topic with gentleness and grace and it was not an assault on anyone's point of view." J. TenBrink

"Jon and Mindy Hirst take you through our cultural troubled waters with a canoe and a paddle. They help to identify and avoid serious rapids that impede our understanding of how culture bound we are. This is not an easy canoe trip, but as you cross this river you will learn much about yourself and your assumptions. Give it a hard stroke and you will be rewarded."--Jim Reapsome

"Like anyone who tries to figure out where a story is going before he gets there, I had the positivists and instrumentalists pegged early in the story as positions the authors do not respect very much. Characters from either of these perspectives are, in the book's portrayal, hopeless; they are stuck in their epistemology. It is only the Critical Realists who have hope, life, and healthy relationships. I was, at points, surprised not to find the Critical Realists described as wearing capes, masks, and tights. . . What the Hirsts want is for people, especially Christians, I think, to consider two things: first, that though there is objective, real truth, you don't have a monopoly on it; and second, through communication and community we can all better come to know the truth and life that God offers us." - Not listed

"My criticisms aside, the book does a good job of introducing philosophy in a non-technical way to the layperson. I highly recommend it to any one who is having troubles with family or friends and they don't have the language yet to engage holistically with those people. This book is definitely written with positivists in mind, and seems to have in its purpose a call for positivists to rethink their positions and move "through the river." As one who has already moved through much of the river, the book did not really give me anything fundamentally "new" to chew on (but then again, new is overrated). It did, however, give me a good book to recommend to family and friends who want to learn the beginnings of philosophy and its relation to a holistic approach to God." Daniel Kam

"Epistemology was once a topic confined to the college classroom, but practical issues facing Christians today benefit from a critical look into the way we see the world. After all, those lenses affect the way we relate to other people and share our faith. Through the River is an accessible introduction to the conversation." Ian F. Eastman

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Understanding "the truth we are learning" through Stories

I came across a great speech by a Nigerian author the other day thanks to a friend of mine from Kenya. The author's name is Chimamanda Adichie and she told the TED conference that one of the great mistakes that we have made as people is to promote only one story.

She shared how when she was a child she only red European children's books and so when she began to write as a young person, her books were filled with snow, tea and other European things even though they were not part of her daily experience.

This happens so often. We tell a single story and expect it to accurately represent truth across thousands of languages, geographies, relationships and experiences. What I love about Adichie's challenge is that she is asking people to expose themselves to more than just the story that is most common to their experience.

Now as we think about truth, the key is what we share in our book. The three truth lenses have very different perspectives on the stories that we interact with. The rocky shore (positivism) believes that we should identify the one true story and help everyone get on that page and enjoy the richness of it. The islands (instrumentalism) believe that we should allow for countless stories to exist at the same time without any need to harmonize them. The far shore believes that there is a core story that runs through our lives as believers that we can share in common with everyone and that other stories add richness to the core story as they bring their experiences, cultures, relationships and history to the community of learners.

Take a minute to watch this powerful presentation and ask yourselves these questions:
1. What story is dominant in my life?
2. When other stories come into my path, how do I respond?
3. What can I learn from other stories that are not my own?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Truth Lens Challenge

Now that we’ve talked about the different truth lenses, let’s try on a different pair and see what the world looks like. Try taking off your Rocky Shore lens or your Sandy Island lens and try to see what the world would look like from the far shore on the Valley side.

Go through your day with the assumption that you don’t know everything, but that you can know some things. Put the truth you know and the truth you are learning into practice. How do you relate differently to people? How does your conversation change? Is your vocabulary any different? You might even find that there isn’t vocabulary for what you’re trying to say. That’s expected, since our language has developed using the Rocky Shore truth lens.

How is your attitude? Is it any more Biblical than it was before? Is humility creeping in? Are you in a state of learning?

Go ahead, try it on, and see what happens.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

30 Days of Truth Teasers

Since we have launched our book, we have been tweeting about truth under the name #TruthTeaser. You can see them all on twitter, but we wanted to share them on the blog as well. These 30 ideas are short but have a lot of kick to them. We have tried to sythesize many of the biggest most critical ideas in the book into these short tweets. We pray that they are helpful in your truth journey.

  1. Your assumptions about truth are like glasses that affect everything you see.
  2. Some people spend their lives adding truth and subtracting untruth.
  3. Some people see truth as a personal matter. They live on islands with no bridges.
  4. Some find truth they know and recognize that they are learning the rest in community.
  5. If you insist that all truth is knowable then experts are essential.
  6. Many arguments have more to do with your truth lens than the truth itself.
  7. Personal truth seems freeing but ends in isolation.
  8. Humility changes how you interact about truth.
  9. Culture wars rise out of a fear that our understanding of truth is losing influence.
  10. Personal experience brings new perspectives on the truth we know.
  11. Tolerance raises love to the highest position at the expense of truth.
  12. Our understanding of truth directly affects our approach to outreach.
  13. Math is the language of those who seek to completely understand truth.
  14. Relationships are the language of those who believe truth is learned in community.
  15. Faith represents what we know, hope what we’re learning and love how truth is lived out.
  16. Personal truth is convenient until someone else’s truth collides with mine.
  17. We experience a great disturbance when our assumptions about truth fall short.
  18. Many of us make certainty the focus of our truth search when clarity would serve us better.
  19. When we say “ham sandwich” what do you imagine? What is a true ham sandwich like?
  20. When objectivity is the goal, the richness of truth is lost.
  21. On the island of personal truth you are one misstep away from the river of relativism.
  22. Knowing feels safe, learning feels dangerous. Its easy to settle for some knowledge and give up learning more.
  23. Living in community creates the opportunity to see truth as a journey
  24. Every new idea can be seen as a threat, as someone else’s or as a new perspective to discover.
  25. A picture is an exact image of reality.
  26. A collage is thousands of ideas about reality.
  27. A montage is thousands of ideas brought together into a whole.
  28. Do you view truth as a picture a collage or a montage?
  29. Your truth lens is a key part of your worldview.
  30. Your view of truth will impact your faith, relationship and outreach.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Maps are wonderful truth tools to explain life on the far shore with the Valley Dwellers (critical realists). The map represents some portion of reality, without representing the whole thing. A map of my neighborhood may have the fences drawn in, but a map of my whole town would omit that truth. It doesn’t mean that the truth of the fences does not exist, it just means that it is not part of the map.

So for the Valley Dwellers, you can understand truth without having the whole truth. A map can omit truth and yet still be true. This illustrates the truth we know and the truth we are learning. The truth we know may be the street names and the distance from one place to another. The truth we are learning may be the fences or the color of the mailboxes. We are not given an infinitely detailed map of reality. We only have maps to help guide us as we navigate our world.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Intentional Journey: Thoughts after KKMS Interview

So I (Jon) recently did an interview on KKMS in Minneapolis, MN. Great station and wonderful hosts for afternoon drive time. One of the things we talked about was the difference between evangelism from the Rocky Shore where people believe they can know and represent all truth to the Far Shore where people believe there is truth you know and truth you are learning.

As we talked about it a cool thought came out of the discussion. Really the main difference is that on the Rocky Shore you are trying to convince people that you can know all truth and if they accept your ideas you will lead them to a fuller understanding. A Rock Dweller holds out to people the idea that this is a key piece of truth that they must know as they strive to know all things completely.

Many times, those in the river of relativism or the Island Dwellers who represent isolated personal truth, feel that this is very arrogant. They have experienced other ways of knowing truth beyond reason and logic and are convinced that the people on the Rocky Shore are delusional.

Now on the Far Shore the Valley Dwellers do believe there is a foundation of truth. But the basic assumption about truth is different. They believe that a foundation of truth is possible in community and through the study of God's Word, but the rest is a process of learning together and trusting God. So when a Valley Dweller engages with a non-christian about faith, they explain the foundation but readily admit that there is so much to learn and so many things to know. They will even say that many of these things won't be known till we are in Heaven with God and that this is OK.

This approach to truth is seen by those in the river as much more humble and approachable. They still have to come to an understanding that there is a common foundation of truth, but it is easier for them to take a step out of the river towards the Valley Dweller's community rather than the harsher reality on the Rocky Shore.

The Valley Dwellers have a foundation but are very happy to go on a journey with non-believers as they study, think, talk, learn. This doesn't mean that the Valley Dweller's have given up their foundation of truth, but it does mean that it isn't a simple yes/no dialogue.

The greatest challenge with the Valley Dweller approach is that it requires deep relationships with non-believers and an investment that may never pay off in a salvation prayer. It requires a deep love and commitment to the person and an investment in their growth. This is a great sacrifice in our "microwave culture" where we want results quickly. That is the great challenge of life on the Far Shore - nothing is quick.

It is an intentional journey!

Friday, September 25, 2009

How you can be a Christian and use any of the truth lenses

Each of the three truth lenses we have been talking about has its benefits and drawbacks. The Rock Dwellers have confidence and security, but at the same time deal with fear, as they are always in danger of losing their position as being right. The Island Dwellers can live in harmony with the people around them, but they become increasingly isolated from each other. They do not have to endure the argumentativeness of the Rocky shore, but they cannot make headway on any topic either. The Far Shore offers the security of knowing truth, but the humility that says that we are still learning. Still, the Far Shore is not in line with our language, and has some challenges communicating without sounding wishy-washy.

The important thing to know about the truth lenses is that you can be a Christian and use any of them. Your truth lens is part of your worldview. It does not define your relationship with God. It may affect it, but it does not define it. So, a person on the Rocky Shore can view truth in the solid, uncompromising way and still have a relationship with God. So, can the person on the sandy islands know God, even though they don’t believe their knowledge can be given to anyone else. Hopefully, as we know God more and more, our truth lens will become more Biblical. That is the hope for the Far Shore and the Valley Dwellers. With the solid foundation of truth coupled with the humility that recognizes individual perspectives, we hope to be pointing to a more Biblical truth lens.

Now that you understand truth lenses a little better. Try them on. Like glasses, see what the world looks like through each pair. Take them off and have a good look at them. Are your assumptions Biblical? What truth lens will help you further your relationship with God? What truth lens will help you to obey what God asks of us in the Bible? What truth lens will help you to reach out to others around you?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Prime Time America Interview

If you want a 15 minute introduction to our book, our interview on Prime Time America is a great way to take a first step into understanding your Truth Lens.

Here are the instructions on how to download it:
Go to: and scroll down to September 17. Listen to the "part 1" audio at minute 20 and you will be there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Opinion or positivism (Rock Dwellers)?

On a radio interview today, the show host, Bob Dutko from WMUZ, asked a very good question. To summarize the idea: What is the difference between holding an opinion and being a rock dweller in our analogy of River Town? Like many things, the answer is a heart issue.

An opinion by definition is a view that’s held at arms length, knowing that there is enough evidence to invoke doubt. The question of truth lenses runs deeper. It asks about knowledge and the nature of that knowledge.

Positivism, or the truth lens held by the rock dwellers, tells them that they can know truth and know it fully, if they just work hard enough. It’s more than holding opinions, it is the belief that you are right without doubt or room for more information outside of logic and reason.

An Island Dweller and a Valley Dweller can hold opinions, but what their truth lenses tell them about their knowledge is very different. The Island Dwellers believe that their opinions are only applicable to themselves. The Valley Dwellers believe that they cannot know the whole truth fully in this lifetime, so an opinion remains an opinion as they discover truth in community.

Then comes the question. Can you be a Valley Dweller and believe in undeniable truth? The answer is yes. There exists undeniable truth, but we will never in ourselves be able to understand that truth fully in this lifetime. We can, in community, learn more truth than we know today, but we still “see through a glass darkly.” We do, however, as Christians believe in the One who does understand undeniable truth and have faith in Him and what He tells us in the Bible. In our book we share a great story and application about faith, hope and love . . . make sure to check it out.

When Humility Becomes Tolerance

We were on WMUZ in Detroit today and the show's host Bob Dutko asked a very good question. I'm going to paraphrase the idea. He wanted to know the line between humility that leads to learning and truth and tolerance that leads to relativism and a destruction of truth. Great question.

The reason it is such a good question is that the line is very thin. In our book we talk about three truth lenses (ways to understand truth) that define most people in America today. Most of modernity focused on people who live on the rocky shore. They believe truth is completely knowable. However in the past 75 years or so people have gotten frustrated with this way of viewing truth. They moved to the islands because they wanted to allow for personal truth and they rejected the idea that logic and reason were enough. The Island Dwellers defined tolerance. They said that we can know truth but it is personal. This means that my truth is not something that can be transfered to you but is only applicable to me. In that situation there is no sharing or learning. All we can do is "live and let live."

But the islands became places of isolation so people moved to the far shore where people built a community that understood truth and had a foundation but realized that much of God's truth was not yet known. The Valley Dwellers focused on the truth they know and the truth they are learning. On the Far Shore, a common foundation of truth makes it so that you can learn together in humility. It is not "live and let live" it is "live and learn." In this community humility creates a posture where we can admit when we are wrong, set aside preconcieved ideas and allow others to help us see truth more fully in the context of relationship.

So the Islands allow for tolerance and the Valley focuses on humility. Both groups might use the same language, but their motives or reasons for what they say are very different. When you are interacting about our foundation of truth, Island dwellers will try to say that the discussion doesn't matter and people can believe whatever they want. I know, I was one. But Valley Dwellers will validate truth, discuss it, understand it and then move on to deeper things that they desire to know about their world, their faith and their God.

So as you are on your truth journey, be looking out for the fine line between humility and tolerance and be serious about pointing out the differences.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Foundations of Truth

Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV)
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."

So many times in life we settle for the basic truths of the Gospel. We stop at the things that we hear every Sunday. We ponder them but don’t ask, “What does God want me to learn next?” In doing so we miss out on what God really has for us.

It is vital that we understand the foundations of our faith. Nothing can be more important. But the foundations are just that. They are the beginning, the base. The question we have to ask ourselves is “What does God want us to build on that foundation?” The fruit of righteousness Philippians talks about is the result of what we build on this foundation.

We love this passage because it marries love and knowledge so seemlessly together. As we know more about God we are compelled to love others. And as we love others and humbly engage with them, God promises to be faithful and reveal new truth. That is what authentic relationships are all about.

Think about the last time you learned something new. What was the situation that surrounded your insight? Most likely it involved someone sharing something that they were learning and you then were able to grapple with a new idea in a new way. It might have been an author through a book, a speaker at a conference, a friend over coffee or a teacher in a classroom. The setting doesn't matter.

They key is that as we love God and love those around us, God uses our posture of learning to reveal His truth in powerful and life-changing ways.

So here is the question. What are you doing with the solid foundation you have received in Christ? Are you seeking deeper insights as you grow closer to God and reach out to others? What is God teaching you that is transforming your life for His glory?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A review on amazon

Check out this review written by our mentor Jim Reapsome:

Jon and Mindy Hirst take you through our cultural troubled waters with a canoe and a paddle. They help to identify and avoid serious rapids that impede our understanding of how culture bound we are. This is not an easy canoe trip, but as you cross this river you will learn much about yourself and your assumptions. Give it a hard stroke and you will be rewarded.--Jim Reapsome

Pluralism—threat, acceptance, or opportunity?

In our society today, we all have to come face to face with pluralism. We live among many cultures and viewpoints.

We can see this as a threat to the way we are used to thinking and struggle against it. Maybe this feeling is not on the surface, because we know that pluralism is tied to our freedom, but deep down we feel threatened.

Or, we embrace each viewpoint as equally valid even if they are contradictory. We learn to live with a sense of unsettledness to protect our freedom to think.

Critical realism, however, offers a different way to approach pluralism. This humble approach to knowledge can see pluralism as a learning opportunity. There are things we know and things we are learning together.

We do not have to accept every idea wholeheartedly, nor do we have to reject the sender when we conclude we do not like the message. We can hold an idea lightly as we spend time trying to understand the issue more deeply.

So how will you view pluralism in your life; as a threat, as something to be accepted, or as an opportunity for growth?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Launch Announcement

We are excited to announce that our book is now on sale at Amazon and other sites. We are so excited to share this content with you and hope to have many good discussions on this blog and on our facebook group.

Purchase your copy today!

Become a Fan of the book on Facebook:

Follow our daily #TruthTeaser on Twitter at:

Look forward to the conversation and to learning about truth together!

When Someone is So Close to Truth

This morning I was reading in a devotional book called "10 Minutes a Day with Jesus" written by my friend and mentor Jim Reapsome. The devotional I read today was focused on Jesus' brothers. They were so close to their Savior, but for most of the life of Jesus, these brothers were not open to His message.

We all know people who are so close to the truth don't we? We have people in our lives who see witnesses of the truth lived out daily and who have read the truths in the Bible but who have not made them their own.

What a challenge to our own process of growing in knowledge and truth! Many of us wonder, what is keeping these dear ones from connecting the dots.

Some people want to have the full picture before they will accept anything. They search, define, process and consider until they feel they understand it completely. In our book we call this group the Rock Dwellers. They spend their time adding up truth and subtracting untruth in an effort to produce a crystal clear image of what is real and true.

Others only explore truth as far as it relates to their personal experience. They believe in truth but define it subjectively. In our book we call this group the Island Dwellers. They live on real islands where things can be known but there are no bridges to connect with others.

The final group believes in shared truth that we can all know but takes the view that there is much we are still learning. This group is called the Valley Dwellers in our book and they live in community and humbly journey together in search for greater truth.

Think about those who are close to the truth but have not opened their hearts yet. What are the barriers for them? Is logic their barrier? Is personal preference a barrier? Is the infinite possibilities of truth a barrier? The sooner you understand what their truth journey looks like, the sooner you can come alongside them and encourage them in their search.

Who knows, you might be the person God uses to move aside the barrier and open up His truth to them in a powerful way!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Truth Teasers

As we launch the book this month, we have a fun little treat for all of you. If you follow our Twitter feed at, we will be posting daily #TruthTeaser tweets. These will be short little thoughts that help you get into our book's topic and focus.

You can also review the past #TruthTeaser tweets by going to the Twitter search page:

Enjoy and please RT (ReTweet for those of you non-twitterers out there :) )

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Truth is not a Burden

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Jesus walked on this earth as Truth embodied. He is the God of the universe in human form and in this passage He called to those listening and to you and me today to rest in Him. We don't usually think of truth and rest in the same sentence do we?

Usually truth has the connotation of hard work. Because of our legal system you hear terms like "burden of proof." We talk about "searching the Scriptures" for the truth. We could go on and on with the examples from daily life that give us the idea that truth is tough going.

But is it really supposed to be that way? That is a good question. The Bereans were praised for their searching hearts weren't they. YES! So what do we mean when we say that "Truth is not a burden"?

Simply this: Our life is a journey into a deeper and deeper relationships with Jesus. If Jesus is Truth embodied as we said earlier, then our life is a constant process of knowing truth as we become more intimate with Jesus. The wonderful part about knowing Jesus is this promise in Matthew. He says that if we come to Him and invest in Him, He will give us rest.

For so many years, we have viewed truth as a goal. We dig, define, and debate in our ongoing search for truth. The discipline of these things has its place, but in the process we have made truth a burden instead of what it was meant to be.

Jesus came and said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) So we begin our truth journey focused on Jesus. But soon the search for truth can take the place of the relationship with Jesus as the focus of our attention.

We are convinced that if your truth journey is focused on your relationship with Jesus, that He will make the ride a wonderful one as you get to know your Savior. There will still be late nights of study, and opportunities for intense discussion but the burden will be on Jesus' shoulders instead of your own.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Real Story

As we get ready to launch our new book "Through the River" next week, there is a bigger story of what God is doing in our lives as a couple. We would love to share that with you. We pray that it will enrich your experience with our book as you hear what God is doing in our lives.

Read our post on our Generous Mind Blog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Truth Tweets

Our book is arriving next week and will be on Amazon to purchase by September 1. We are very excited and our desire is to help you get your hands around what it means to understand your assumptions about truth. We believe it will transform your faith, relationships and outreach.

But we wanted to make it super simple. So we are launching a 30 Truth Tweets on our Twitter Feed. Starting September 1 you can receive one Truth Tweet each day that will give you a small insight into our book.

If you are on Twitter, go ahead and follow our feed so you won't miss a single day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Accountabilities Role in Truth

One of our great challenges in our truth journey is allowing others to hold us accountable as we travel. This accountability, is so central to growing in knowledge and staying clear of untruth. But we struggle with accountability don't we. I have been wondering why accountability is so hard and so I wrote the following post on our Generous Mind blog:

We would love your thoughts or ideas.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Humility and Critical Realism

Critical realism is based on a humble approach to knowledge. It is the assumption that we cannot know all truth, but that we can know truth. It is humble by definition.

It’s clear that humility is important to God. There seems to be a relationship between humility and God hearing our prayers.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (New International Version)
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

(See also 2 Kings 22:19, Ezra 8:21)

If we are searching for truth, and are humble in our approach of the Almighty One, then he promises to teach us.

Psalm 25:9 (New International Version)
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.

We cannot see the astounding truth of the Scriptures if we are not humble. We need to get out of the way.

Jeremiah 44:10 (New International Version)
10 To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your fathers.

Following God’s Word is an important part of learning God’s truth. By following his “laws and decrees,” we see His truth in action, being lived out in our lives. It is more than theoretical knowledge, but a holistic knowledge that takes the messiness of life into account.

How would Christian critical realists search for truth? They would first humbly pray and ask God to hear them. Then ask what He wants to reveal while living out the Scripture in their lives.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why go through the river?

In our upcoming book, we talk about changing your truth lens as being like going through a river. Unfortunately, there is no bridge, and the challenge is great. It takes a lot of effort to get you through the current before it sweeps you away.

So if it’s so hard, why go through the river? People usually go because of what we call a great disturbance. Something in their lives makes people question the foundation of their thinking and they go searching for answers. This could be the death of a loved one, the questioning of a good friend, or just a nagging sense that something isn’t adding up.

If you are having a great disturbance, maybe it’s time you considered going through the river. The book, Through the River: Understanding Your Assumptions About Truth should be available August 2009.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Trying to see straight

In our upcoming book about truth, we coined the phrase "truth lens." This is a term that means the same thing as "epistemology." What does that mean you ask? It is the study of knowledge and everyone has an epistemology built into their worldview.

The significance of this is that underneath all of the things you know and the ideas you believe in is a set of assumptions about truth that guide your thinking. These assumptions have a tremendous impact on your daily life. The problem is that they are beneath the surface and so it is easy to skim over your truth lens and focus on the practical issues of the day.

Our hope by introducing this term "truth lens" is to make the idea accessible to you and to help you understand the truth lens with which you see the world. Once you understand your truth lens, your faith, relationships and outreach will make much more sense.

So we hope you will buy the book and follow this blog as we interact about this subject.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Foundations Are Important

"We recognize that the taller and more expansive a leader's dream,
the deeper the foundation must be."
- Kouzes and Posner in "Credibility"
In a world that lives from minute to minute on cable news, your appearance and ability to act like you are in control are of huge value. But as Kouze and Posner so powerfully share in their book on credibility, the true measure of your impact and effectiveness does not come from your ability to put on a good performance. It comes from deep within.
The problem with "deep within" is that it is messy, complicated and hard to sell in a 5 minute news segment. But that doesn't really matter does it? In the end the foundational things in your life are much more critical to your faith, relationships and outreach than your ability to put on a good show.
Our book "Through the River" is about some of those deeper things. It is about a part of your worldview that defines how you understand truth. It is not easy to put in a box and you can't explain it in a 50 second elevator speech, but it changes everything about how you view the world. These assumptions about truth are called your epistemology - we use the term "truth lens" to bring it down to earth.
Your truth lens is what you use to define truth in every part of your life. It is foundational. How you view truth will shape your faith, the way you view other people and the way that you act out your faith in evangelism and service.
Now your truth lens isn't the only foundational thing you need to be finding out about . . . but it is a very important one. As you explore your truth lens, you will begin to understand why you struggle to get along with Uncle Joe, why you believe the way you do about a certain social issue and why you approach outreach a certain way.
Our effort in this book is to help you be aware of the truth lenses that are most prevalent in the Western world today and to help you decide which one will help you serve God most effectively.
I know you are too busy to learn about your truth lens . . . that's ok. Take time anyway. You will find that as you invest in the foundations, other things make much more sense. Your life can be lived much more on purpose and your impact is exponentially increased. Lets build some foundations together!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dumb Outreach

What a silly name . . . there is no dumb outreach from the perspective of the people being helped. But if you think about the quality of the encounter, dumb outreach is pretty common. Why is the quality of our outreach so poor when we have so many resources/materials and helps?

Most of the time we focus on tools and strategies for outreach and not on relationships. In the end our outreach teams are all about relationships and a tool might help. And in those relationships we tend to spend little or no time understanding how each other thinks about what we are doing.

Thinking about what you think with sounds obscure and confusing, but all it means is that we understand the assumptions that drive our actions. Do you understand the assumptions held by the people you minister with? In our upcoming book we equip you with the three core assumptions about truth that are prevelant today. At first pass it is easy to think that all Christians view truth the same - but they don't.

And how you view truth changes everything about how you reach out to others. In the coming weeks we will be telling you more, but take a moment and think about those you minister with in church, school, work, etc. Think about how they view the world and the assumptions they have.

Now you are on the track to trading in that dumb outreach for some smart strategic ministry.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Now What?

So now that you understand the three most prevalent truth lenses being used today (Positivism, Instrumentalism and Critical Realism), what do you do with this information? You suddenly understand why your co-worker in the next cubicle always wants to argue with you about politics; she is using the positivist truth lens and is trying to get you to understand the right way to view things. But how does having this knowledge help you relate to her in a better way?

So let’s say that you are using the critical realist truth lens and your co-worker is using, like we said, the positivist truth lens. The first thing to ask is what you have in common in your view of truth. You can start there.

The critical realist truth lens and the positivist truth lens both value knowable truth. This is the starting point. You and your co-worker both believe that truth can be discovered and there is a right and wrong. You can spend a lot of time talking about the truth that is known and appreciating the world we live in. But what about when you disagree?

It helps to understand where you differ in what you believe. The divergence is in the knowing of truth. You will disagree about the degree to which something can be known. The critical realist will believe that things in our finiteness cannot be known fully on this earth. We are always on a journey of discovery, filling in a montage that gives us more and more information about the world but which is never complete. The positivist will be on a quest to fully know that truth in the here and now, putting together a picture puzzle where one missing piece ruins the whole.

One strength of the critical realist truth lens is the humble position from which it comes at the problem of truth. This humility is hard to argue with, though it may be seen as a weakness to some. It naturally changes a debate into a discussion.

Aside from the humble position, it is also important to come from a loving perspective. Love is a great healer, and can solve many relationship problems. Keeping love at a high level in your interactions with others will help in the development of your relationships.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Place for Mystery

This excerpt is from "Scraps," the thread and pieces of fabric that fell away as the quilt was made.

A Place for Mystery

Beyond affirming that faith, hope and love are key to understanding truth, there is another important concept that the Bible represents which resonates with critical realists. It is the idea of those things which God has not revealed to mankind. The Bible talks specifically about things that we don’t yet know. More importantly it allows for these things to exist without any prescription or assurance that humanity will ever know them fully. A great example of this is Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

Stepping Outside of the Argumentative Culture

This excerpt is from "Scraps," the thread and pieces of fabric that fell away as the quilt was made.

Stepping Outside of the Argumentative Culture

We live in a world of judgment. All around us the argumentative culture raises one voice and then another in their effort to be heard. Debora Tannen defines this culture this way, “The argument culture urges us to approach the world – and the people in it – in an adversarial frame of mind. It rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done; The best way to discuss an idea is to set up a debate; the best way to cover news is to find spokespeople who express the most extreme, polarized views and present them as “both sides;” the best way to settle disputes is litigation that pits one party against the other; the best way to begin an essay is to attack someone; the best way to show you’re really thinking is to criticize.” (The Argument Culture pg 3-4)

In our world, each voice embodies experience, ideas, vision and resolve. But it is also laced with something else: contempt. Whether they are political pundits in Washington or rappers in New York, many people spend their entire lives focused on dominating those with whom they do not agree, hating the ones who sit on the other side of that invisible line.

These voices are truly destructive. The impact of their words is the destruction of many people’s ideas. Or worse yet, their hatred convert those who have opposed them and the other side lashes out with a similar vengeance.

NOTE: This piece was not meant to be without hope, but was meant to point to a problem we need to think about. The book brings a hope that we truly can step outside the argumentative culture and relate in a new and different way.

Truth Lenses, A Core Concept

Suggested Title:
Through the River: Understanding Your Assumptions About Truth

Your understanding of truth impacts your relationships and your outreach. One of the keys to unlocking the truth all around you is your truth lens (epistemology). Your truth lens is a simple tool that frames how you will interpret truth and interact with others about that truth.

Today in the Western World there are three dominate truth lenses that help people to understand truth. Jon and Mindy Hirst, along with Dr. Paul Hiebert (renowned missions anthropologist), bring these three truth lenses to life using a simple story of a river town with three communities.

The Rock Dwellers live on the rocky shore and believe that their role is to add truth and subtract untruth until they have uncovered truth in its entirety. The Island Dwellers live on the sandy islands in the river and believe that truth is a personal affair that cannot be transferred to those on the other islands around them. The Valley Dwellers live on the far shore and believe that there is truth that we know and truth we are learning.

Most Valley Dwellers have come from the rocky shore or the islands and are bearing witness to another way to look at truth that has the potential to revolutionize life in the river town.

Through the River represents Jon and Mindy Hirst's efforts to take several key concepts from Dr. Hiebert's book Missiological Implications of Epistemological Shifts and apply them to a wider Christian audience. Its goal is to present the importance of knowing what you think with and understanding how it will impact relationships and ministry on a daily basis.

To be released Spring 2009, Authentic Publishing (IBS-STL Global)

Paul Hiebert's bio:

Jon and Mindy Hirst's bio:

Book Summary

Behind your every decision and relationship are assumptions about truth that guide your actions. They go unnoticed in your daily life but their influence guides your faith, your relationships and your outreach. Come and explore the communities that live in River Town. As you read this simple analogy, we will introduce you to the three most common ways to view truth today – we call them Truth Lenses and they are an important part of your worldview. We will watch as the Rock Dwellers, Island Dwellers and Valley Dwellers interact while using different lenses.

Every Christian wants their view of truth to line up with the Bible. This book will help you practice holding your assumptions about truth up to the light of Scripture. Our prayer is that as you understand your assumptions about truth, you will experience transformation in your life and relationships.

This book is the result of many journeys of discovery. Dr. Paul Hiebert helped to shape and form our view of truth. He came alongside two young authors and gave us the tools to share these powerful ideas with you. We take several key concepts from Dr. Hiebert's book Missiological Implications of Epistemological Shifts and apply them to a wider Christian audience. Its goal is to present the importance of knowing what you think with and understanding how it will impact relationships and ministry on a daily basis.

Your journey will change everything about how you understand what is true.


This blog is about a book being published by Authentic Publishers, expected to be released early 2009 with "Through the River" as part of the title.

Jon Hirst and I (Mindy Hirst) worked with Dr. Paul Hiebert to take some of the key concepts in his book on missions...and apply them to everyday life and relationships. It helps readers understand that our "truth lenses" are the reason that many of us do not understand one another.

The book challenges Christians by outlining the three primary truth lenses being used today and asking people to consider their truth lenses in light of the Bible. Hiebert's work is titled "Missiological Implications of Epistemological Shifts" --a big title for a little book that impacted us deeply. We hope our book will have a similar effect in your life.