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What Is Truth?
Alfred B. Davis
Posted: May 26, 2021

In John 18:28-40, after being betrayed and taken before the High Priest, Jesus is led from Caiaphas unto the Hall of Judgment to be questioned by Pilate before being crucified. During the inquest Pilate asks Jesus, "Art thou the King of the Jews? …what hast thou done?" Jesus answers, in verse 37, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." Pilot responds, "What is truth?"

Indeed, what is truth?

For thousands of years truth was considered something that is objective and verifiable. It may be something as objective and verifiable as 1+1=2. For instance, if I pick an apple from the tree and put it in a basket and then pick another apple and put it in the basket as well, I can look into the basket and count one, two apples. Since the numbers are not subjective but objective, I can verify that 1+1=2. The number of apples in the basket does not depend on how many apples I feel like I picked or wish that I picked, it depends on how many I actually picked. That is an objective and verifiable truth.

In addition, truth is knowable and experiential. For instance, if someone tells me not to put my hand on a hot stove because it will burn, I can say that I don't believe that is true, that it is just your opinion, and put my hand on a hot stove. When I do, I will experience a burning sensation in my hand that will, hopefully, quickly change my opinion and help me to determine that what you said about putting my hand on a hot stove is indeed true. I now know it is true because I have experientially proved it to be true. That is a knowable and experiential truth.

Truth is also self-evident. The universe, for example, exists. We know that the universe exists because we exist. If the universe did not exist then we would not exist. No universe, no us. That is a self-evident truth.

Another aspect of truth is that it is logical; it makes sense. Consider the following statement: "Truth does not exist." The problem with that statement is that it does not make sense. If the statement were true then it would not be true because it purports to be a truth, which, if true, would mean that the statement violates its own assertion that truth does not exist. "Truth exists," however, is a logical statement. It makes sense. If the statement is true then truth exists and the statement is true. That is a logical truth.

These aspects of truth are indicated by the origins of the word. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, our English word, truth, comes from the Old English words triewð (West Saxon) and treowð (Mercian), meaning "faith, faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty; veracity, quality of being true; pledge, covenant". They, in turn, are from the Germanic word treuwitho and the Proto-Germanic word treuwaz, meaning "having or characterized by good faith".

Unfortunately, truth is under attack today. Truth is being redefined as a construct of not just society but of various minority and identity groups. No longer fixed to actual facts and reality, truth is now considered fluid, subjective, and an expression of group identity, sensitivities, and opinions.

For instance, Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once stated:

"Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion-and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority."

Now, to the philosophers, this is an attractive definition of truth. It allows them to opine, pontificate, and philosophize all kinds of intellectual, yet ultimately meaningless, arguments about truth. To those who want to reject and redefine truth, however, Kierkegaard's concept of truth allows them to deny reality and develop a worldview based on the fluid, subjective expressions of group identity, sensitivities, and opinion. Or, to put it another way, it allows them to reject reality (actual truth) with fantasy (made up truth).

Rejection of reality is a hallmark of postmodernism. In fact, Gene Edward Veith, Jr., wrote in Postmodern times : a Christian guide to contemporary thought and culture (1994):

"In postmodernism, the intellect is replaced by will, reason by emotion, and morality by relativism. Reality is nothing more than a social construct; truth equals power. Your identity comes from a group. Postmodernism is characterized by fragmentation, indeterminacy, and a distrust of all universalizing (worldviews) and power structures (the establishment). It is a worldview that denies all worldviews ("stories"). In a nutshell, postmodernism says there are no universal truths valid for all people. Instead, individuals are locked into the limited perspective of their own race, gender or ethnic group. It is Nietzsche in full bloom."

The postmodern view of reality and truth has paved the way for the rise of woke-ism. Woke-ism rejects reason, logic, and objective truth for emotion, identity, and subjective opinion for a new worldview based on the enlightened teachings of the group. The group, in this case, being the enlightened postmodern progressives who have freed themselves from the chains of traditional values and objective reality. Being woke means, according to the New Discourses Commentary:

"… having awakened to having a particular type of 'critical consciousness,' as these are understood within Critical Social Justice. To first approximation, being woke means viewing society through various critical lenses, as defined by various critical theories bent in service of an ideology most people currently call 'Social Justice.' That is, being woke means having taken on the worldview of Critical Social Justice, which sees the world only in terms of unjust power dynamics and the need to dismantle problematic systems. That is, it means having adopted Theory and the worldview it conceptualizes."

Oh, and if you do not understand the leftist jargon in that statement, then you are not woke.

Woke-ism is fast becoming the religion of the Left. Tripp Parker in his article, The New Religion Of The Woke Left Is A Faith Without Atonement, wrote:

"So, how is the Woke Left similar to a religion? Well, even without a supernatural element, it has all the trappings of one. It has a core set of beliefs that you cannot question and remain in the tribe with myths that aren't subjected to normal academic scrutiny (the 1619 Project); it has sacred texts (White Fragility), its idea of original sin (being born white and/or male), rituals (including self-flagellation), symbols, heretics (hello, JK Rowling), and de facto priests and prophets to enlighten and then initiate us into this new religion. All will be shown a new way of viewing everything about the world, and we must adopt this without caveats or questions."

Dissent is not allowed. Questioning and free thinking is heretical. Blind faith and absolute adherence to woke-ness is demanded.

Of course, the ultimate problem with woke-ism is not merely its rejection of objective reality and traditional values for the fantasy worldview of the progressive, postmodern Left. It is the rejection of biblical truth and the Judeo-Christian worldview for humanistic philosophy and man-centered ideology. It makes man, or rather the group, the sole arbitrator of truth, rather than God and His Word. Consequently, it is a rejection of God Himself.

Consider, then, what the Bible has to say about truth. In John 14:6, Jesus says, "…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." If we believe that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, as the Bible claims, then this must be a true statement because the Bible also says, in Titus 1:2, "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began".

So, if Jesus Christ's claim to be "truth" in John 14:6 is true, then it follows that His words are true. This logical, reasonable conclusion is actually stated in John 17:17, where Jesus says, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Which brings up another kind of truth: revealed truth.

Revealed truth is found in the words of the God who cannot lie. These words of truth, given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and preserved by the Lord Himself (Psalm 12:6-7) are sure words (2 Peter 1:19). They constitute the Word of God, otherwise known as the Bible; the "word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

The Word of God is also described as the word of life in Philippians 2:16 and elsewhere in the Scriptures. As such it has another unique characteristic that separates it from the words of men. It brings life, eternal life, to those who heed its truths. In fact, Peter said to Jesus in John 6:68, "…Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." He later wrote in 1 Peter 1:23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

Rejection of truth, God's truth, brought humanity into the bondage of sin and death. God revealed His truth to Adam in the Garden of Eden when He told Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Nevertheless, after Satan beguiled Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, Adam rejected the objective reality of God's words for his own subjective thoughts and emotions. The result? "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12)".

Thankfully, God in His mercy devised a plan to redeem fallen man. That plan is found in the revealed truth of the Word of God. After all, Jesus Himself said in John 5:39, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

So, rather than following the progressive, postmodern, leftist, woke path of the world in rejecting truth, especially the truth of God's Word, let me encourage you with the words of the Lord:

  • "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls… ( Jeremiah 6:16)"
  • "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)"
  • "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)"
  • "…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)"