“What is Truth?”

This question is still as relevant as it was the moment Pilate asked it (John18:38).

Contextually we are light years from the time and place of Pilate, but really we are not so far away in terms of philosophical/theological culture. Pilate lived in a time of diverse thought with competing voices all jostling to define truth in their own way.

Fast forward to the 21st century pluralistic culture and it is remarkably similar. Truth is definitely a fluid concept in our postmodern times. 

For Christians this fluidity has proved quite the challenge. Our typical, systematic approaches to defining truth- while solid- appear to be unfortunately losing ground to other voices. Folks as a whole seem much less interested in a truth presented in formulas and steps.

So what do we do? How do we effectively present Christian truth to a postmodern world? What is the best way to get our voice about God heard in the cultural discussion?

“What is truth?”

How would you answer that in 2010?

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17 Responses to “What is Truth?”

  1. jim says:

    What is right, pure, holy? The big question is what to do with it if we find it.

  2. Eddie Lewis says:

    I just got back from the CEC. One of our speakers was Leonard Sweet. He said we live in a TGIF world (Tweeter, Google, Internet, Facebook). He has written a book, “11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without.” I didn’t agree with everything he said, but he had some good points about connecting with people today.
    One thought was: “You don’t get to pick the culture you live in.” That is true, but we must consider how we respond to our culture.
    Another thought was: “We think in orange–we see everything divided into neat pieces–we should be thinking in apple–the whole nature of something.” Maybe it is just my nature, but i do like to break things down into smaller units to see how they work. Instead he is saying we need to view things as a whole.
    Our young people live in a different world. We need to help them see the value in the truth of God’s Word and help them develop a faith that last.

  3. Tony Black says:

    The only truth we have is Christ. God did something with that TRUTH!

    In His Service,

    Tony

  4. Dottie G. says:

    Truth is God. God can’t lie. Either you believe this or you can’t believe that He exsists.

  5. lesjr says:

    Truth never changes. Cultures, contexts, etc do. Truth sould be presented, lived, shared with that in mind. Too often we get caught upo in culture and context and somehow see them as opposites of truth even when they don’t have to be.

  6. Edward says:

    Truth is perception. This is an answer for both the theist and the atheist. While I agree that the truth never changes, our perception of it varies per individual, and no one can claim to be the authority.

    yeah, yeah, I know what you’re going to say. “God is the authority”, “The bible is the authority”, “Jesus is the authority”, yadda yadda yadda.

    Let’s test this.

    Ten people are in a field. They see a lightening bolt in the sky, and a crack of thunder accompanied by a voice that shouts, “I AM TRUTH, FOLLOW ME!!!!”

    The initial shock wears off.

    One man says, “that was GOD!!!”
    One man says, “you don’t know that for sure.”
    One man says, “we may NEVER know”
    One man says, “I must have been hallucinating.”
    One man says, “this confirms my religious beliefs.”
    One man says, “we need to go and tell everybody”
    One man says, “we don’t need to tell anybody.”
    One man says, “I saw it, it must be real.”
    One man says, “don’t trust your senses, but rather use common logic and rationalize this thing out,”
    One man says, “what you experienced and how you interpret it depends on your background,”

    and so on.

    while they all agree that they experienced a phenomenon, what they can’t agree on is how to interpret, understand, or apply or even communicate the phenomenon. Naturally, they begin to argue until finally they just throw up their arms and walk away in judgement of one another, and in frustration.

    Every day humanity experiences a phenomenon of truth. Every day humanity fights and bickers over what that means.

    The reason we live in a postmodern society, is because our culture is waking up to the fact that we as individuals, Christian or otherwise, cannot control the minds of other individuals, and we’re okay with that. The illusion is not truth. The illusion is control.

    How do we connect?

    In my opinion, we connect by stating clear and simple what we believe and allow the next person to process it just as they will. Why? Because that’s what they’re going to do anyway, Christian or otherwise.

    What is truth? Well, I can tell you what it is for me…….

  7. Jim Sexton says:

    My dad used to say, “Just because you don’t believe in something, doesn’t make that something not true, real, and without question.”

    We live in a spin the truth/lie environment and I believe we have lost the ability to recognize truth. We see something and want it to be what we ‘want’ it to be, whether it is truth of not.

    Jimbo

  8. Nat says:

    I totally agree with what Edward says….

    We can not force our ways or beliefs on anyone. We just need to be open and truthful to ourselves about the world we live in! We still have freedom of speech but lets not be obnoxious about it. I get so sick of the people in this world who do not see the world for what it really is. People are gonna believe what they wanna believe. All we can do is put it out there!
    The truth can be ugly and cause conflict. This is even more reason to always seek it out. Sadly even when some people have the truth they choose to see past it because it’s so painful or too deep. I think we have all been there. All we can do in that situation is pray that those people will come to terms with the truth and accept it. As we all know… The Truth Will Set You Free!!!

    Easy to say that but hard to live by it!!!

    Good luck to us all!!! And GOD be with us all!!

  9. Donna says:

    Jesus loves me this I know…for the Bible tells me so.

  10. Darin says:

    Well, the old cultural way of looking at truth didn’t exactly fix everything. That way of looking at truth brought countless division because someone didn’t agree about what truth was.

    Some really good points have been made.

    Unfortunately the reaction to the past is to say “this is true for me.” That isn’t making anything better because there is ultimate truth and the Bible says it is personified and held together and created in and through Jesus.

    So, while we may not agree on it and I’m comfortable with that, there has to be ultimate truth. To take from an earlier example, the voice did shout and did have a meaning. Our agreement or interpretation doesn’t change that.

    In the end the current way of looking at truth is not less man-centric than the old way of we can know truth by using human logic. God said if you seek me you will find me and if people really do that then in the end they will know what they need to know. They may find out that worrying about what it the voice meant missed the point, just go believing that whoever it is will show the way.

  11. Scottie says:

    Truth is defined as the “true or actual state of a matter”.

    I love the comment above: “Just because you don’t believe in something, doesn’t make that something not true, real, and without question.”

    My dad also used to say that to me as well.

    The problem is that the other side of that coin is also valid– “Just because you believe in something, doesn’t make that something true.”

    The fact is that you won’t know whether God is real or actual truth until you die or he comes in some sort of second coming (if you believe in that sort of thing)

    Furthermore, you cannot know if your particular path to God is absolutely true until the afterlife or whatever you want to call it. You can’t know–it is impossible.

    You can have “faith” which is defined at least in the Bible as “belief in things HOPED for” (it is not defined as belief in things that are KNOWN). Faith and truth may one day be proved to be the same, but for now, the only things that are true are things that can be proved in this existence.

    I’m not saying that people can’t share their faith or their belief and even how convicted they are about it. It may be “true” to them. Share the fact that you believe whatever to be truth. I am, however, tired of people who are arrogant enough to use words like absolute Truth as opposed to the words faith or belief when trying to share their vision of God.

    Stop searching for some absolute truth when it comes to God. Instead, search for how God interacts with your life. People will never believe some system–people only are willing to take the chance on faith if it changes their lives…if it convicts them in some way.

    There is an Ultimate Truth about everything…the problem is that we will never be confirmed about our belief in that truth one way or the other until after we cannot do anything about it–sort of a tough and unsatisfying way to go through life if you ask me.

    I don’t know anymore what is truth beyond what I can see in front of me. I have things that I hope are true. I have bets or gambles that I make in my mind in the hope that I may be proved right some day, but I try to be humble enough to realize that I may in fact be wrong. My goal these days are simply live a consistent life with those gambles or beliefs. It’s easier when I do not have to be right all the time.

  12. Royce Ogle says:

    The law of gravity is truth. Jump off a building and “splat” you have proven it is true. The law of sin and death is true. And the one who claimed to be “the Truth” is truth.

    While it is true that perception is truth to the person who perceives it is often not really truth is it? I know a bright, sophisticated, well educated man whose perception was that he did not have to pay federal income taxes. His perception was untrue and his jail term confirmed it.

    The idea that there is no absolute truth is folly and those who are living their lives according to “designer truth” are in for a reality check down the road.

    Royce

    • Edward says:

      The law of gravity is truth, I will agree; but the results of jumping off of a building or even falling out of the sky will never produce 100% results. True, some people will go “splat”, but not everyone will. Some will die from serious falls, others will live to tell about it. So the experience or even the witnessing of the experience is not the same from person to person.

      My question to the man doing time for not paying his taxes would be, “well, did you ever actually pay your taxes?” What about the guy who decides not to pay his taxes and DOESN’T get caught? Or the guy who doesn’t pay his taxes and makes a conscious decision to become homeless or disconnect from society or even leave the country? Just because a person doesn’t pay taxes doesn’t guarantee that his results will be like those around him.

      And, to clarify, I was not advocating that truth is not absolute. What I am advocating is that your version of truth and my version of truth will eventually create a dichotomy in the perception of that same truth.

      I’m interested to see what that ‘REALIY CHECK’ will be. I’ve got this strange feeling that all of us will be utterly surprised.

  13. Royce says:

    My illustration was not focused on the result of falling, rather that gravity works every time. It is a demonstration of truth, absolute truth that is. Trying to be cute adds nothing to the discussion.

    • Scottie says:

      Not trying to be cute…just trying to be honest…you have faith in your truth, but you won’t know until the end. Condemning others who have an honest, sincere faith in a different path to truth is just something I am not going to be arrogant or self-righteous enough to do. I will disagree with them..question them, etc but I can not say with 100% certainty that I am right. But by all means feel free to condemn others who are seeking…it seems to work for the majority of those who call themselves Christians—it has since the time of Christ..why should it stop now.

    • Edward says:

      Royce, you have now made 2 false assumptions:

      1 – that I was advocating that there is no absolute truth and that this was “folly”.

      2 – that I was trying to be cute.

      Assumptions such as these hinder true dialogue and add nothing to the conversation. Please go back and read what I write, without reading INTO what I write.

      This is the reason why I rarely engage in these types of discussion online. They often lead to folly.

  14. brakelite says:

    The ultimate present evidence of “truth” is in a changed life. One of my favorite quotes reads:

    The gospel is to be presented, not as a lifeless theory, but as a living force to change the life. God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witnesses to its power. E.G.White “Desire of Ages.”

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, and to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

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