Exploring the nature of truth


One of the things I’ve learned in my life is that truth is controversial. You wouldn’t think so, would you? I mean truth is truth. The opposite of truth is lies. No one would willingly choose a lie over the truth…or would they? 

Have you ever served on a jury? Witnesses put their hand on a Bible and vow to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God.” And then for the next week, you hear nothing but lies and misleading statements from witnesses and lawyers. Your job as a juror sometimes is to decide which side is lying less than the other side.

Cynical? Sure. But don’t forget what Tom Cruise as the defense attorney shouted to witness Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men.” He shouts “I want the truth!” Nicholson shouts back “You can’t handle the truth.”

I think Cruise’s character is a stand-in for all of us. We all say we want the truth. But Nicholson’s character is also correct – some of us  can’t handle the truth. In fact, many of us don’t really want the truth. This has led us to a point where moral relativity is pervasive. Postmodernism teaches that knowing truth is impossible. So we hear people say “My truth…” and “your truth is as valid as my truth.” Some of us cynically ask the same question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus - “What is truth?”

We live in a time of moral relativism. I believe this is one of the dynamics behind the false news we see with mainstream media. You see and hear the network’s or news anchor’s or writer’s sense of truth…which may or not be the truth. But if you’re an atheist and you reject God’s Word (the Bible), what’s your basis for defining truth? Chances are you’ve rejected God’s Commandment that says “you shall not lie or bear false witness.” So, for you, truth is relative. It’s whatever you say it is. 

A challenge for churches today is our youth (and many adults) are reading and watching science fiction and fantasy books and movies where the supernatural is common. Laws of physics don’t apply. Superheroes and monsters aren’t subject to the same laws of gravity and physics that we ordinary humans are. I believe this leads the viewer to a dystopian cynicism and inability to differentiate between what is true and what isn’t true in real life. 

But for those of us who try to live our lives following God’s will, we look for truth. We believe the promise Jesus made to His disciples “When the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide you into all truth.” One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of what is true and what isn’t. But that’s only the beginning. The second part is that, once we know the truth, we must act on it. One of the Nineteenth Century’s great preachers, JC Ryle, wrote “Holy Scripture is truth. We must contend for that truth. We must fight against false doctrines that are not Christ’s Gospel.” 

So, first, we must find the truth. Then, we must act upon it. Third, we must speak it – even if it comes at a cost. 

The church must speak the truth. The church cannot pull its punches. In teaching and preaching the truth, the church can’t worry about offending someone. The church cannot be politically correct. 

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s the truth. And it’s an absolute truth. 

If you need the truth, find a church where the preacher preaches God’s Word faithfully, a church that isn’t politically correct, a church that isn’t afraid of displaying a cross and preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified. Christ’s truth can set you free from cynicism and moral relativism. Remember Jesus’ words “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17 – ESV). 

The Rev. Dale L. Chrisman is Rector of Trinity Anglican Church. Trinity is now in our new church at 18900 FM 1431, just five miles west of Leander and Cedar Park. Join us at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings.