What is Truth?
By Dr. Jeff Marx – Head of School
What is Truth?
Pontius Pilate uttered profound words to conclude his interrogation of Jesus (John 18:38a), propelling Jesus into the Father’s will, toward the cross.
For many, Pilate’s question is epistemological, and perhaps the question to which an answer defines a life well lived. Truth exists. Logic will prevail. There can only be one true metanarrative for human existence. Objective truth is real and can be known using rational, empirical, and scientific inquiry. Consider the many options: Theism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Dualism, each with its many varieties – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Materialism, Skepticism. A quest for truth should lead us to a belief system that best fits reality. One shared reality.
Regardless of where a person lands regarding the nature of truth, no metanarrative can be proved objectively.
The last mile requires faith, but a faith based on reason.
C.S. Lewis articulates this well in his book, Mere Christianity, first published in 1952. In his chapter on Christian faith, Lewis says, “Now, Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”
In 21st-century postmodern America, truth is viewed as subjective and internal. In their book Wisdom and Eloquence; A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning, authors Littlejohn and Evans write, “On a deeper level, truth has changed. That is to say, the way most people in our contemporary culture perceive and process truth is profoundly different from how it was before.” Deconstruction, distrust of metanarratives, and a belief in a plurality of “truths” has largely displaced modernism and faith-based epistemology. We are encouraged to find our own truth, based on our own individual reality. Look inside yourself for guidance. Just be you. Just do it. You deserve it. Culturally, the quest for truth has shifted from singular to plural, from external to internal, and from corporate to individual.
As Christians, we believe truth is objective, accessed via revelation. (Deut. 29:29) Truth is revealed by God through supernatural revelation, for example in the Word of God (1 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:19-21), the person of Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-2), miracles, etc., and through natural revelation, the observation and understanding of the created universe (Psa. 19:1-4; Rom. 1:18-20).
Before His interrogation by Pilate, after celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples, and before His arrest, Jesus prayed. He prayed for unity and protection for His disciples, and He prayed for future believers. He prayed for us! One of my favorite Bible verses is spoken by Jesus as part of these prayers – “Sanctify them by the truth; your Word is truth” (John 17:17).
Previously in John’s account, during the meal, Jesus told the disciples, “Trust in God; trust also in me.” Then, he tells them He is leaving to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and that they “know the way to the place where I am going.” Characteristically, Thomas expresses doubt, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus responds, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:1-6).
He is the truth.
Dr. Jeff Marx, Head of School