When you were young, you might have been told that it’s important to tell the truth. We are encouraged to believe that something is either true, or not true. That’s certainly what the definition would imply: truth is “that which is in accordance with fact or reality”.
Truth is therefore something which is objective and can be acknowledge as correct. Two things which are completely opposite cannot simultaneously be true: only one can be the truth. Seems simple. Unfortunately, not.
Your Truth, or Mine?
Western culture is steeped in the belief that truth is subjective. We cannot know something as objectively true because we are limited beings: we can only see things from our own perspective and this limits our ability to know truth beyond ourselves.
What is true for me, then, may not be true for someone else. And all claims of truth must be valued as equal, because we are not in a position to know which claim is better than the other.
While this sounds very fair, in practice it doesn’t work. We are seeing this already: there are plenty of examples of conflicts between competing viewpoints. Two contradictory “truths” cannot exist simultaneously: logically, one must gain dominance.
We cannot even rely on a majority view as a basis for defining truth. There are plenty of historical examples which show the dark places human beings can reach when we define truth by the views of the majority.
Can We Know The Truth?
In the second chapter of The Gospel As Center, the author addresses this very question. We know humans cannot know truth objectively, because we are limited by our perspective and experiences. In order to really know objective truth, we would need access to a much broader perspective, one which spans all of time and space. Thankfully: we do!
God. God is able to provide us with an objective view of truth, because God exists both within and outside of time (since He created it!). He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). He also knows us individually and better than we know ourselves (Romans 8: 26-27).
These things, in addition to the fact that God is omniscient (all-knowing) mean He knows truth objectively, and is able to communicate that to us, so that we know the best way to live for ourselves, for others, and for our world.
Ministry of Truth
God communicates His objective truth to all of us through the Bible. This gives my ministry a solid foundation, because knowing God’s truth grounds what I believe and what I do.
From this comes the responsibility to share my experience of God’s truth with others, demonstrate God’s truth in my life, and let God’s truth shape my actions and thoughts. I need to listen to others who also believe God’s truth, so that together we can work out how it applies to us today. I respect the fact that others can claim their own truth, but I still try and show them why God’s truth is better for them and our world.
For this reason, I hope my life and ministry is always founded on God’s truth, because, as Jesus Himself says:
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8: 31-32)