What is Truth?
In April 26, 2005, Jennifer Wilbanks created a stir when she ran away from a wedding and claimed that she was kidnapped and assaulted behind the van of a Hispanic man. Since truth is relative, initially the people and authorities believed her and went on a manhunt until she reappeared a few days later to claim that she was not telling the truth.
“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, 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. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all” (Jn 18:38-39).
Pilate asked Jesus “what is truth”. Many people always say I am speaking the truth. Today I will talk about the definition of truth, the nature of truth and the importance of truth.
Websters; defines truth as “: the state of being the case : FACT (2) : the body of real things, events, and facts : ACTUALITY (3) often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality b : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true
We will deal with the first definition to be the appropriate (truth) of what we want to say. That is; water is made up of two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of Oxygen. No matter the country or language, water will have the same properties. Water cannot be one molecule of Hydrogen and two molecules of Oxygen in the US and two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of Oxygen in Cameroon. That at once voids the expression “truth is relative”. One can either be saved, or they are not. Anyone who does not know if he or she is saved and must wait to reach heaven before knowing if they are saved or not is not yet saved. If he/she is, he/she will know for the Spirit will testify in his/her spirit that he/she is saved. That is truth!
However, if we define truth as relative, we mean a body of real things, events and facts. For example, Republicans believe they are godlier than democrats and vice versa. Each of them is basing their arguments on their reforms; body of real things, events or facts. Considering that no human owns the monopoly of truth, then one person would be right while the other will be wrong. Yet relatively, they are speaking the truth. Since no human holds the monopoly of truth, we look out of the human race. Out of the human race, we have God. If God holds the monopoly of truth, then the only place we can know what truth is, is in his word.
In logic, we talk of the Law of Non Excluded Middle. We mean that a fact can only be A and not B or AB. That means, there can only be one way to God. When the Christians say there is only one-way to God, they nullify “all ways lead to God”. Are they speaking the truth? How do they know their way is the truth? That again calls for an external arbitrator: God. Jesus says, “I am the way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by me (Jn 14:6). We know this is truth because there is only one God. And the one God had only one Son. The One Son says there is only One Way to His Father and that is Him. Him the Son is the truth. That is the truth!
Another example of the nature of truth is divorce. Each time you condemn divorce, divorcees jump from the bush with their waiting spears. The truth is that divorce though permitted in the Bible is not encouraged and not the primordial intention of God. Therefore, it is an ungodly behavior. That does not mean that the divorcee is no good. It simply means the act is bad. The fact that you divorced does not make divorce good, no matter the reason. When we say smoking is bad. We are conscious of the freedom of the smoker but at the same time are hateful towards the damage caused by smoking. Please permit me to renarrate the annecdote about the Six Blind Men.
Once upon a time there were six blind men. They lived in a town in India. They thought they were very clever. One day an elephant came into the town. The blind men did not know what an elephant looked like but they could smell it and they could hear it. 'What is this animal like?' they said. Each man touched a different part of the elephant.
The first man touched the elephant's body. It felt hard, big and wide. 'An elephant is like a wall' he said. The second man touched one of the elephant's tusks. It felt smooth and hard and sharp. 'An elephant is like a spear' he said. The third man touched the elephant's trunk. It felt long and thin and wiggly. 'An elephant is like a snake' he said. The fourth man touched on of the legs. It felt thick and rough and hard and round. 'An elephant is like a tree' he said. The fifth man touched one of the elephant's ears. It felt thin and it moved. 'An elephant is like a fan' he said. The sixth man touched the elephant's tail. It felt long and thin and strong. 'An elephant is like a rope' he said. The men argued. It's like a wall! No, it isn't! It's like a spear! No it isn't! It's like a snake! They did not agree. The king had been watching and listening to the men. 'You are not very clever. You only touched part of the elephant. You did not feel the whole animal. An elephant is not like a wall or a spear or a snake, or a tree or a fan of a rope'. The men left the town still arguing. A little girl heard them and said 'Each of you is right but you are all wrong … but I know what you are talking about.' Adapted from ‘The Blind Men and the Elephant’ by John Godfrey Saxe (1816 - 1887).
Truth with Christianity and the word of God is not relative as the case with the Six Blind men.
There are some men who have truth and others do not (Ex 18:21). The antonym for truth is a lie. If the father of lies is the devil (Jn 8:44), then there is a father of truth who is Jesus. There are some people who have no truth in them. If they don’t have truth then they cannot have absolutes. It is common sense to know that there are absolutes since each of us has once in our lifetime corrected someone. We do the correction on basis that what they said or did not is relative because there is an absolute. One can only know that which is true by enquiring (observation) searching (hypothesis) and asking (experimentation) before establishing any certainty (theory) as outlined by Moses (Deut 13:14; Ecl 12:10) .
Theses are the characteristics of truth. It is a shield and buckler of the just (Ps 91:4; Eph 6:14), it endures for ever (Ps 117:2), is the law (Ps 119:142) and always wins the speakers enemies (Gal 4:16).
In May 7, 2005, Pastor Chandler of the East Waynesville Baptist Church told the congregation that anyone who planned to vote for the Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), should either leave the church or repent. There are no truths in the above examples because they lack absolutes.
Therefore, truth is absolute and the way of truth is a choice we make (Ps 119:30). People need to make a commitment to speak the truth (Prov 8:7; Zech 8:18, 19). Truth speakers are good and merciful people (Prov 14:22). Truth and mercy will preserve leadership (Prov 20:28). We must remember that God is a Spirit and all who worship him must do so in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24) because when you do that you shall be free (Jn 8:32) and when the Son shall set you free you shall be free indeed (Jn 8:36). Relativism is holding the truth in unrighteousness and it fetches the wrath of God (Rom 1:18; 2 Thes 2:10-12) because many have erred away from the truth (2 Tim 2:18; 3:8). If you walk in the truth, people will testify of truth in you (3 Jn 3, 4).
Until then, be not bewitched that truth is relative; its not: it is an absolute!
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk