What is meant by the word ‘truth’ from a Christian point of view?
Alex sent to me the following email asking about ‘truth’ from a Christian perspective:
Your website is interesting to me. Please could you help me with what is meant by the word ‘truth’ from a Christian point of view? I understand the absolute Truth to be the one God, made accessible to mankind because of Jesus, but I am struggling with the broader meaning of the word ‘truth’ and also the concept of ‘finding truth’.
I would be inordinately grateful if you could help me understand these terms.
With many thanks,
What distinct questions Alex asked! I hope my reply is as great in answer as Alex’s question!
Let’s start with looking at the secular perspective of truth then we’ll move to the Christian perspective on truth.
The Secular Perspective – Truth is Absolute
You may think that the secular perspective concerning truth is that truth is relative. I mean if you were to listen to Secularists they claim that truth is relative; not absolute. If you think that the secular perspective concerning truth is relative, you best think again.
Each of the people listed below made a statement claiming absolute truth is something that doesn’t exist. As you can read, the secular(1) stated view on truth(2) is that truth is relative(3), not absolute(4). Yet if you read carefully, you will see that they clearly actually believe and assert truth exists and that truth as an absolute.
There are no facts, only interpretations.
- Friedrich Nietzsche; a late 19th century atheist who famously wrote that “God is dead.”
There is no absolute truth.
- Richard Dawkins; A Devil’s Chaplain “What is True?”
The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth—never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments are the key.
- Carl Sagan; Wonder and Skepticism, Skeptical Inquirer Volume 19.1, January / February 1995
From the viewpoint of absolute truth, what we feel and experience in our ordinary daily life is all delusion. Of all the various delusions, the sense of discrimination between oneself and others is the worst form, as it creates nothing but unpleasant.
- Dalai Lama; a monk of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism
In Buddhism we have relative truth and absolute truth.
- Dalai Lama; a monk of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism
The pursuit of truth is chimerical. That is why it is so hard to say what truth is. There is no permanent absolute unchangeable truth; what we should pursue is the most convenient arrangement of our ideas.
- Samuel Butler; an iconoclastic Victorian-era English author who published a variety of works
Reality is, after all, too big for our frail understanding to fully comprehend. Nevertheless, we have to build our life on the theory which contains the maximum truth. We cannot sit still because we cannot, or do not , know the Absolute Truth.
- Subhas Chandra Bose; widely known throughout India as Netaji, was an Indian nationalist and prominent figure of the Indian independence movement
Really, Truth is Absolute?
As you read secular claims that absolute truth doesn’t exist, you will notice (unless you chose to ignore) that secular people actually make absolute truth claims. Each of the people above in making their claim that absolute truth doesn’t are in fact making a contradiction(5). Their stated claim is an absolute truth statement claiming that absolute truth doesn’t exist.
The laws of logic make it clear that A and Not A cannot both be true at the same time within the same context. Thus, each of these people in fact made an absolute truth claim all the while claiming that absolute truth doesn’t exist! Therefore each of these people in making a claim that absolute truth does not exist actually confirm absolute truth exists – yet they just want it to be the absolute truth that they want it to be rather than absolute truth itself.
Basically and most simply put, secular people claim absolute truth doesn’t exist as they make absolute truth statements and claims. It would be really silly if it wasn’t so drastically pathetic what these secular people are doing… claiming that absolute truth doesn’t exist as they are making absolute truth claims!
More Secular Examples that Prove Absolute Truth Exists
Making absolute truth claims is not at all uncommon for a Secularist. Take for example these Secularist absolute truth claims:
- The simple fact is that all life-forms end in death and the elements of which they are composed return to the air and the earth to be taken up and recycled in some new organism. This natural process is universal and is beyond dispute. http://atheistfoundation.org.au/article/atheists-perspective-death/
- Nobody can show that the claims for the existence of an afterlife are true. Nobody can detect the so-called soul or describe how it interacts with the body. http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9012.htm
- Fact one: Every creature is “programmed” to die in the name of evolutionary adaptation. That is the naked truth. http://atheistfoundation.org.au/article/life-after-death/
- Atheism is not an assertion about which a person can be right or wrong. http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismatheistsriskhell/a/SmarterBetter.htm
- Heaven doesn’t exist, hell doesn’t exist. http://death.findyourfate.com/life-after-death/atheism.html
- It is natural for a person to not want to die. http://kidswithoutgod.com/teens/ask/how-do-atheists-handle-the-fear-of-death/
- No deity will save us; we must save ourselves. We are living the only life we’ll have, in the only world we know about. http://americanhumanist.org/AHA/Frequently_Asked_Questions
- People can do as they please without eternal consequences. http://www.wardtanneberg.com/2013/03/09/an-atheists-view-on-life/
Each of the Secularists above also hold to the claim that truth is not absolute. Yet each of these Secularists want you to absolutely believe that their claim is absolutely true… Thus Secularists hold a double standard and contradict their own standard pertaining to absolute truth.
A Greater Question
Many people ask questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” Yet before determining an answer to this question or similar questions, it is best to define truth as Alex asked; which is why Alex’s question is so distinct.
Even more specifically than truth is the source of all truth. If we do not know what truth is, then how will we know if the answer is correct or not? So, what is the source of truth? We know it isn’t the truth Secularists want us to believe as they contradict themselves concerning truth.
The Source of Truth
Atheists (and many other Secularists) have concluded that there is no meaning in life, and their definition of truth is that man is the source of all truth – and that above all absolute truth doesn’t exist. Yet as proven through the few secular examples above, in their claim that absolute truth doesn’t exist, we know beyond doubt that absolute truth does exist and through their claims we know that their version of absolute truth isn’t it per their contradiction.
The Bible states that the Creator of the universe is the “God of truth” (Deuteronomy 32:4), and He is “not a man, that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19). The author of Hebrews said that it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18), and Paul taught the same in Titus 1:2. Because God cannot lie, God’s Word—the Bible—is true (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
We know from John 1:1 that Jesus is God, and Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and John stated that Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus told Pilate that He came to “bear witness to the truth” and that everyone “who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37).
The New Testament has a special emphasis on the truth of Jesus. We can see right at the outset that the Bible identifies truth not simply as the absence of lies but as a quality intrinsic to the very nature of God, as was fully manifested in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus not only spoke true words—He was, and is, the ultimate expression of truth.
- called Himself “the truth” (John 14:6);
- was “full of . . . truth” (John 1:14; Ephesians 4:21);
- told “the truth” (Mark 12:32; John 8:40, 8:45–46, 16:7) and whose words are “true” (Revelation 21:5, 22:6);
- taught “the way of God in truth” (Matthew 22:16 = Mark 12:14 = Luke 20:21);
- taught about the “truth” (John 8:31–32; 17:17, and so on);
- came into the world to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
Thus, absolute truth is and comes from God and is seen through Christ Jesus.
Finding Truth Today
Many Secularists (including many Atheists) no matter what the cost stick to their contradictory claim that absolute truth doesn’t exist. These Secularists and Atheists make a free will choice to not know absolute truth (i.e., Christ Jesus). Whereas other Secularists (including other Atheists) chose to open their mind to knowing absolute truth although not all of them actually seek to find absolute truth… some of them do seek and do find absolute truth.
The choice to seek truth and find truth is a free choice. And all true seekers of truth find truth. The verses below come from the Holy Bible and each claim – that all seekers find God – are testable by experience, by experiment.
Deuteronomy 4:29 – But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Proverbs 8:17 – I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.
If you are honest about finding truth, here is a way to see if Christianity is true or not. Tell Christ Jesus that you are seeking the truth. Ask Him to fulfill His promise that all who seek Him will find Him. In His own time, of course. He promised that you will find, but He did not promise a schedule. God’s a lover, not a train.
But; you may reply: I don’t even know whether Christ is God. I do not even know whether there is a God. That’s okay because you can pray the prayer of the skeptic:
Lord Jesus, I don’t know if you even exist. I am a skeptic. I doubt. I think you may be only a myth. I am however not certain, (at least when I’m completely honest with myself). So if you really do exist, and if you really did promise to reward all seekers, you must be hearing me now.
So I hereby declare myself a seeker, a seeker of the truth, whatever it is and wherever it is. I want to know the truth and live in the truth. If you are the truth, please help me find you.
If Christianity is true, God in time will answer your honest prayer to Him. Such a prayer constitutes a scientifically fair test of the Christian “hypothesis” – that is, if you do not put any unfair restrictions on God, like demanding a miracle – your way not His – or certainty by tomorrow – your time, not His. The demand that God act like your servant is hardly a scientifically fair test of the hypothesis that there is a God who is your King.
But all this King over all kings asks for at first is honesty, not faking a faith you do not have. Honesty is a choice of the will – the choice to seek the truth no matter what or where. This is the most momentous choice you can make. It is the choice of light over darkness, ultimately heaven over hell.
I hope if you have not sought and found Christ Jesus that you do so today and that you take Him as your Savior.
Definitions (from http://www.merriam-webster.com unless otherwise noted)
- Secular* – referring to non-Christian ways; a term, thing, or concept that is dependent on something other than Christ Jesus
- Truth – the real facts about something : the things that are true; the body of true statements and propositions
- Relative – not absolute or independent;
- Absolute – complete and total; not limited in any way; having unlimited power; free from imperfection; fidelity to an original or to a standard
- Contradiction – the act of saying something that is opposite or very different in meaning to something else; a difference or disagreement between two things which means that both cannot be true
*Updated to reflect the difference between religious ways and following Christ Jesus [Christian] ways.