Does TRUTH matter anymore?
Updated: Feb 4, 2020
“Dad I’m serious, I am telling you the truth!” These are the words one of my children exclaimed as they tried to convince me to consider their position. It made me smile as I realized the appeal was challenging me to consider truth.
But is truth even important? Does it matter? Can you know it? Should we be teaching it to our children? These are all great questions worthy of exploring. I would like to consider a couple of different views of truth, what happens when man determines truth, and then focus on a knowable and higher standard of truth.
If you are a parent you already know we do not have to teach our children to lie. It comes naturally as a result of sin and our fallen nature. This is why it is so important to teach our children to tell the truth from a very young age.
But why teach them something that is not even knowable? This is absurd, right? I have made an effort to teach my children the truth of the Bible since they were very young. Obviously, this would be a waste of time if I could not define and articulate what truth actually is. Think about this for a minute.
Christianity or any other religion or worldview could not be true (including atheism) if you could not define truth. The Bible or any other book could not be true either. It would all just be a matter of opinion.
A POST TRUTH CULTURE VIEW
First, let’s talk about the standard of truth that seems so prevalent in our society today. Many in this generation have a very different standard for evaluating truth.
I think it was very telling about our culture when Oxford Dictionary declared a few years ago that the word of the year was “post truth”. In essence, to many this means that objective facts are not as important as feelings and emotions. We all have our own “personal” truth. This is certainly not a new concept. The Scripture is full of examples of people desiring to “do what was right in their own eyes”.
Most young people today get their understanding of truth from a culture that says it is grounded within the individual. It is subjective and situational. This is basically, “you have your truth and I have my truth.” Whatever you choose to believe is your truth. I have my own personal experiences and have my own truth. You become the creator of your own truth. My opinions and my beliefs, determine my truth.
So, consider this for a moment. If my truth is different than your truth, then you cannot tell me what to do. I am just following my truth. For example, if I believe homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, who are you to tell me it isn’t? I have my opinion and you have yours. If I need money and steal your wallet, who is going to tell me that is wrong? Again, I am just following my standard of truth. You could apply this to many similar situations. Can we really have anything more than a subjective truth? Can we really know anything for sure? That leads me to my next view of truth.
OBJECTIVE TRUTH – Truth is what matches the facts.
Relying on your feeling, experiences, and emotions does not change the facts. Truth is absolute and knowable and it is self-defeating to claim that it isn’t!
In this view, truth is absolute or an objective reality. It can also be defined as “that which corresponds to its object.” Truth is not personal, and it does not belong to me or to you. Whether everyone, few, or nobody believes it, truth is what matches up with reality. “Subjective truths” are personal, private, and can change.
Do you realize how we rely on truth in our daily activities? I set my alarm to wake up at a certain time. I drive my car along a familiar route to work. I stop at the ATM and make a specific withdrawal. I conduct a morning meeting that had been arranged and placed on my calendar. You get the point.
Think about your doctor appointment? How about your airplane flight? We would not be able to function if there were not some standards, point of reference, or absolute truth!
God has instituted certain unbreakable laws that operate throughout the universe. Think about science, math, or music. If we could break these laws, or if they only worked some of the time, the entire universe would be chaotic.
Have you ever noticed that people demand absolute truth when it comes to things such as safety, medicine, money, transportation, or court proceedings? Why should it be any different when it comes to the really important matters of morality, the Bible, or God?
So while our culture may say we live in a “post-truth” world, in reality our actions prove every day that truth matters. Deep inside all of us is an awareness that truth exists. I believe that awareness was placed in us by God who gives us a hunger to know truth. It really does matter. I am reminded of the quote by C.S.Lewis,
“…Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.”
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MAN DETERMINES TRUTH?
In our post-truth culture we live in, man determines truth. Man makes himself the ultimate authority. But does this really work?
The Christian worldview is very different from this cultural mindset. Often you will hear statements that basically say, “just follow your heart.” But is this wise? The Bible tells us that being guided by our emotions or our heart is foolish. We are told the following in Jeremiah 17:9:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
We should not trust something that is described as deceitful and wicked. So if we should not follow our heart, what should we do?
FOCUS ON A HIGHER STANDARD
When you start with a Biblical Worldview, it will be in sharp contrast to the post-truth culture. For a Christian, the Bible or the Word of God is our reference point and not man’s opinion. We know the source of truth! We can know for sure that things are right and wrong because the Creator of the universe has given us clear direction. Truth is grounded in the character of God; it is objective and universal. He reveals Himself through Scripture and nature. As Christians, we also have to Holy Spirit residing in us. We can filter everything through the lens of the Bible which is the source of truth. The Bible sets a very high and reliable standard. This is why it is so important to possess first for our own, and then teach our children to have a Biblical Worldview.
You see I do not believe in Christianity because that is how I was raised. I do not believe in a heaven because I want it to be true. I do not believe the Bible because of some “blind faith”. I believe in these things because they are true. I believe for any honest person that is seeking truth, they will find it.
In Scripture Pilate asked the all-important question, “What is truth?”
The irony is that he was looking at the one who WAS Truth! Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Truth was standing right in front of him.
The world today desperately needs to hear the message of the gospel. They need to have a personal encounter with the One who claimed to be the Truth. What a privilege to be ambassadors for Christ to represent the truth. May we do it with knowledge, wisdom, and character.
Some may contend that it is arrogant to say you have the truth. Remember this; it is not just your truth. It is available to everybody. Truth is not invented. It is discovered. It is true whether you believe it or not. The message may offend, however as messengers we should not be offensive in our delivery. I am reminded by the following quote from Augustine:
“We love the truth when it enlightens us, but we hate it when it convicts us.”