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What is Truth?
Pontius Pilate did not appreciate the irony of his asking this question of the only person ever born that was truth. Since the bible only calls God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirt truth as well as the word of God, we might conclude that truth is likewise absolute and unchangeable. It is ultimate reality and why God cannot lie.
For most of the history of the world the curse God placed on the earth impacted people’s lives such that the brutality of nature, disease, and the difficulty of sustaining life kept most at least aware of the reality of God. With the Industrial Revolution, which began to collectivize people in cities and started the breakdown of the family, the impact of the natural world began to be put at arms length. As a result men began to see themselves as more significant than God.
As technology made life increasingly easier, people began to see truth as less about what was real and absolute and more about what made them feel good. Historically, periods of prosperity and ease resulted in weakness and indulgence. We can see this with Germany when the chaos of the 1920s was replaced with the order and prosperity of the 1930s, most Germans accepted Hitler as an “uber menschen” (superior man) because they attributed their better life to his efforts. At the end of a recent movie about Hitler’s last days there was included an interview with the woman who had been his secretary. She commented at the end he was just some average guy and not the savior they had imagined.
The elevation of imagination and feelings is often a sure sign that one has diverted from truth. They often mask real dangers. In a way, it is a type of intentional blindness. Only a few generations ago saying something that wasn’t true was the greatest social blunder one could make. Today saying something that makes someone else feel bad is the greatest blunder. Truth has been redefined as “that which gets you what you want”. This is frustrating for those increasingly few that still seek truth. The majority that seek after that which makes them feel good and speak assertively those things that are false. If one seeking truth calls them on it, a rational dialog about what is true may be expected by the truth seeker, but more likely he is targeted as an enemy because he makes others feel bad.
Those who speak for truth are silenced. Lively conversations about why others hold differing views are not held. Even friends who unexpectedly discover differences retreat from certain subjects as if they were a minefield. Students direct their career path towards what will provide the most money as it is assumed that this will be the way to a more comfortable life However, it is seldom asked if comfort should be the highest human ambition.
Since truth is only found in God, distance from him is indicative of a degree of blindness. Consider Karl Marx who thought that it was religion that kept workers from rising in revolution against the ownership class. One might view his opposite in Adam Smith who saw in the various religious denominations the hope that Christianity would become anemic as those denominations surrendered their differences to be able to get along and thus stop being an impediment to business. Without knowing God and trusting in him, our distance from truth can cause us to trust in own ideas, imaginations, and ambitions which often lead us to destructive conclusions.
Christians should be at the forefront of those who stand for truth. Standing for truth is less about public demonstrations and confrontation and more about individual questioning, seeking, learning, and growth. In fact, without the pursuit of Christian maturity we can become as spiritually ignorant as the Corinthians. As we grow in the knowledge of God through his word, we can be free from the blindness and vulnerability to the lies of Satan and the deceptions of the world.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. - John 8:31-32
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