What is Truth? – Part 1

At the trial of the Lord Jesus Christ, Pontius Pilate heard him talk about “the truth”.

“You say correctly that I am a King. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice,” (John 18v37).

His next question to Jesus was “what is truth?” (v38), and it’s something that many people ask today. Can there really be a sense of absolute truth, which we can all agree on? Something that every culture, every group, every race, can accept as being right?

Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that many people do not believe this is possible. They would argue that everyone is entitled to their own sense of right and wrong, to their own freedom of speech, to their own moral values – and no-one has any right to contradict them. This is a style of thinking known as postmodernism – a very academic term for something which is very common all around us. We’ll look at some examples later, but Pilate seems to be a very early example of this kind of thinking. He knew that the Jews and Romans had differences of standards and values, but he would certainly have struggled to accept that anything was superior to his own.

But the Bible is absolutely clear that there is absolute truth – and it is embodied by God Himself. Just look at these references:

  • “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8v32, said by Jesus)
  • “[People] who changed the truth of God into a lie,” (Romans 1v25, written by Paul the Apostle)
  • “all they that have known the truth,” (2 John v1)
  • “O Lord, I will walk in your truth” (Psalm 86v11)
  • “A God of truth and without iniquity” (Deuteronomy 32v4).
  • “If any of you err from the truth…” (James 5v19)

It becomes very difficult to ignore that there is a concept of absolute truth across the whole Bible. And of course, anyone who accepts the Bible must also accept that there is such a thing as this, and that God alone tells us what it is. This has some clear consequences for our own understanding:

  • It means there is a right way and a wrong way to approach God.
  • It means that it does matter which approach we use to our worship, because we want to get it right.
  • It means that it is very important that we take time and effort to understand what the truth of the Bible is – which involves reading it, of course.

In future posts we will look at some of the implications of this absolute truth, and what it means for us living in today’s world. Meanwhile, you might also be interested in this post about Christadelphians’ approach to the idea of discovering Bible Truth.

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