What is Truth?

The question asked by Pontius Pilate (John 18:38) in the first century rings through the ages and into the twenty-first century. The idea of “truth,” and its interpretation, in the ancient Greco-Roman world was left to the philosophers. Before Pilate stood the Personification of Truth – Truth Himself – and Pilate didn’t recognize it (Him). Often we do not recognize truth when we see or hear it. There is an ignorance clause concerning truth, if one cannot recognize it. But ignorance is not bliss when one can recognize it, but chooses not to do so. More often than not we recognize truth, and do not like it. So we invent our own version or interpretation of truth, and like idiots we then live out of the fantasy that we’ve created.

Logically speaking, there must be Truth; otherwise, things would be neither true nor untrue. Without Truth there is nothing by which to measure validity; nothing by which to measure if something is true or untrue. According to the Laws of Logic (a tool of Truth to measure validity) two competing “truths” cannot, at the same time, both be “true.” For example: The competing statements, “truth is relative” and “truth is not relative” cannot both be true. Either, one is true and the other untrue, but both cannot at the same time be true. Furthermore, the statement “truth is relative,” by its own admission, is not true. The truth of the statement has been called into questioned by the statement itself. Likewise, there are some (possibly, like Pilate) who deny that there is truth. To deny that there is truth negates the notion that there is not truth. It is not (logically) possible to believe there is no truth. One is making a Truth Statement when they say that “there is no truth” and, therefore, denying the “truth” of not believing in “truth.”

Theologically speaking, Semitic (Jewish) thought concerning “truth” stressed reliability and concreteness – truth is something that never changes; something by which everything can be measured against. In Hellenistic (Greek) thought, “truth” was understood as reality, which often would not align well with the way things might appear – the immaterial is more trustworthy and true than the material. The New Testament writers often blended these two thoughts. They operated out of the notion of a Truth always seated in Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6; Gal. 2:5, 14; Eph. 1:13; 2:21; Col. 1:5; 1Tim. 2:4). They expected that Jesus followers would live a life out of this Truth (1Cor. 5:8; 13:6; Eph. 4:15, 24). God’s Self-revelation is Truth (Rom. 1:25; 3:7; 15:8) and everything created is measured against that pre-established Truth (Rom. 1:18-20; 2:2). Outside of this Truth is simply ignorance (Rom. 2:8; Gal. 5:7; 2Thes. 2:10-12; 1Tim. 6:5).

All this being “true,” then, Truth – that truth by which all other truths are measured – must have been instituted, initiated, and defined by an absolute. That absolute we call “God” because He likes that. Not only that, but such truth is the basis for reality. Reality is grounded in the truth that is beyond relativity. The word “truth,” throughout the New Testament, speaks of reality. Reality, by definition, is not relative. To deny reality is to embrace clinical insanity.

There are (at least) two competing ideas in the church today. One is based on relativity and the other on reality. The Scriptures plainly teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Person of Truth. But the reality of this Good News has been made into a figment of the human imagination. Either Jesus Christ is “truly” the Head of the Church or humanity is in charge; either by Faith or by Religion; either by Grace or by Law. But these competing statements cannot both be true. If reality is denied then the church is headless, faithless, and without the grace of God. If not led by the Person of Truth then the church is but a religion, competing with other human religions for the relativity of an ignorant fantasy of make-believe.

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