A co-worker once said that “truth is what the people believe.” From his perspective as an advertising executive, that was a good working definition. Infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels once said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Both definitions hold the same fallacy: both depend on the mind of the individual to determine the truth. We declare that such subjectivity is, itself, false and without foundation. One can see the weakness of such reasoning.
Our challenge, however, is not to define falsehood or to highlight an untrue statement. Our task is to determine truth. Roman Governor Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth” (John 18:38)? We offer a feeble attempt an answering this difficult question.
The denotation of “truth” is varied. Having perused numerous sources for a reliable definition we suggest the following:
Truth is a genuine depiction of real facts; it is a statement of how things are.
[bctt tweet=”Truth is a genuine depiction of real facts; it is a statement of how things are.”]
We differentiate between two kinds of truth: temporal and eternal. An example of a temporal truth is the following statement: “It is raining.” That may be correct today but tomorrow, when the sky clears, there will be no rain. Hence, the statement is true at one time and false at another. An eternal truth is unchanging. It exists without regard to time or place. “God is love” is an example of an eternal truth. We could support our statement with reference to Scripture, which is also eternally true, but we are getting ahead of our study.
Mathematics uses eternal truths too. Adding two and two gives four; it always has and it always will. To deny a fundamental precept of addition is to wreck the entire basis of math. All branches of science depend upon the unchanging nature of myriad principles and foundations. A scientist cannot accurately analyze nor can he forecast if those principles are subject to change. A common example from everyday life is the ability to tell time. People depend on the fixed length of one second, one minute and one hour to enable them to carry on their affairs. Our point is simple: real truth exists.
The deeper question is whether or not there is an objective standard of truth. Since our interest concerns matters of faith, morality and spirituality, is there some standard against which all ideas, concepts and worldviews compare? The answer is an unequivocal yes. We would go so far to say that without an objective measure of truth, there is no truth at all.
[bctt tweet=”…without an objective measure of truth, there is no truth at all.”]
This objective standard is bound up in our understanding of morality. A behavior or thought may be moral or immoral when tested against the absolute standard of truth. We believe that the God of the Bible is that absolute standard. Further, he has revealed himself to us through his inspired word. The unchangeable Creator, existing eternally outside of the natural world, Is the only possible standard for good and evil. His word is true (John 17:17). His Spirit knows the deep thoughts of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-13) and has given unto us all truth (John 16:13; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
As we continue our study truth will become more precious each day. In the words of Scripture, “buy truth and do not sell it” (Proverbs 23:23).
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at preachersstudyblog.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.