“I am the way, the truth, and the life” -Jesus Christ
The pressure was on. Outside the clamor of a mob could be heard. They wanted blood. Chanting, shouting, & slogans were filling the inside of the palace. The tension of the soldiers on duty was visible. Inside two men stood alone. One was dragged there by the mob for the death penalty. The other held the power to make it happen.
Just outside the door a soldier had been overhearing their conversation. The soldier thought it strange that the accused man was the most calm of anyone on the premises. He found himself actually admiring the dignity of the man. He wondered what made the mob outside hate him so much. He was hearing the man say to his boss:
“…for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Even though he couldn’t see in the room he could tell the atmosphere changed suddenly. His boss was disgusted with that statement. “What is truth?” he retorted. And without waiting for an answer he marched out of the room past the eavesdropping soldier.
Pilate’s question to Jesus from John 18 echoes down to us today, “What is truth?” How would you answer that question?
- Well if you keep up with the Artificial Intelligence industry, or you listen to Neil DeGrasse Tyson, you may believe that nothing is really true, but that our whole “reality” is nothing more than a simulation. A recent Scientific American article actually said its a 50-50 chance that we actually are living in a simulacrum (sim-yoo-LAY-krum). The idea came to life in 2004 when Nick Bostrom wrote a paper making this argument. The basic idea is that while we humans continue to push AI technology further and further, creating robots that imitate sentient beings, what stops us from thinking that we ourselves aren’t living in someone elses created simulation? Its the idea that those who are creating a simulation are themselves nothing more than a simulation! Your thoughts aren’t real, your feelings and interests, what makes you you isn’t real. Biden really isn’t President of a real United States. What’s going on in Afghanistan, Haiti, Louisiana isn’t really happening. The earth orbiting the sun and the moon orbiting the earth aren’t real, The moon landing wasn’t real (someone in the back feels vindicated). Gravity isn’t real, 2+2 =4 isn’t real, water doesn’t actually boil. The Mona Lisa, Symphony #9 – not real. “To be or not to be” isn’t real, and, ironically it becomes a cultural prank on those in the simulation! “Cogito, ergo sum” – “I think, therefore I am” isn’t real! Your thinking is all programmed by the simulation!
- If you’re a Hindu you’d feel very good with all this. One of your core views is Maya – the concept that everything about our reality is merely an illusion. Nothing is what it appears to be.
- If you’re a Marxist, Woke, Antiracist, CRT devoted Progressive then you don’t believe there is any absolute truth or reality. You believe that such notions are hegemonic tools of the Oppressor Majority Class to maintain power over the marginalized. No, instead you would believe that truth is whatever a so-called oppressed and marginalized group says it is based on their experiences and perceptions as an oppressed group.
Is nothing true? Is it all just like some big computer video game? Or some cosmic illusion? Or is truth simply a person’s opinion, feeling, or experience with all the attending biases, prejudices, and ignorance?
No these are not what truth is. Now it may be true that someone had an experience and it may be true that the felt a certain way about that experience, and they may have a perception of that experience, but that perception is not the truth itself about that experience. That perception is just a way in which someone remembers and thinks about a particular event.
But that event itself, and how it played out, is what it is. A perception of that event either corresponds to that event or it doesn’t. In other words, someone is thinking truly about something only so far as their thoughts match the reality of that something. This is called the “Correspondence Theory” of truth.
For example: We believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. Now that doesn’t make Jesus God in the flesh. These are just our thoughts about Jesus based on the Bible. Here’s the thing: Jesus is who He is regardless of what we think about Him. If He is not God in the flesh no amount of imagining Him to be that will make Him that. What we try to do is study the Bible so that our thoughts about Him “correspond” with who He is. That is, we want what we think about Jesus in our minds to match the reality of who He is.
This is why our series is called “Knowing God” and not “Imagining God”. Imagining God would be just that: making up in our minds the kind of God that really suits our preferences of what we think God should be, and then going along thinking that there is a god like that that exists. That’s deluded and going down the road of lies. That’s not what we’re doing. We are growing in “Knowing God” – meaning we know that God is who He is and no opinion from any man or angel changes who He is and on that fact we want to discover more and more of what He is like.
It’s like people who draw maps. They don’t make up what the landscape looks like. Nobody drew Michigan into the shape of a mitten because that seemed like a cool idea. No that is actually what Michigan looks like and so the drawings of Michigan reflect that. The map of Michigan corresponds to the reality of Michigan. That’s the Correspondence Theory of truth: statements about things are only true insofar as they correspond (match) the reality of those things.
Every Friday night is Pizza Movie night at our house. One of our favorites is the animated Toy Story series. This is the movie where all of the toys are alive but the humans don’t know it. They are led by Woody the Cowboy sheriff. Well a new toy arrives and its Buzz Lightyear the Space Ranger – the newest, coolest, high-tech-est, toy. Woody doesn’t like the new Toy because he thinks Andy, the human boy who owns all the toys, will make Buzz his new favorite toy. So there’s lots of hilarious rivalry and resentment that happens.
But the thing about Buzz Lightyear is that for the first half of the movie he doesn’t realize he’s just a toy. Every other toy knows they’re all toys except Buzz. He thinks he crash landed on earth and needs to make contact with space command to get his ship fixed and get back on his mission to stop an evil enemy from destroying the universe. When tension is at its highest one of the funniest moments happens between Woody and Buzz. Buzz is going on some long spiel about his mission and being a space ranger while Woody’s disbelief and frustration are at their boiling point. All of a sudden he yells at Buzz: “YOU. ARE. A. TOOOOY! You are not the real buzz light year. You are an action figure! A child’s play thing!” It was such a great line that its made it into our family lexicon. When someone thinks they’re awesome at something and they’re not we say “YOU ARE A TOY!”
Now it may seem weird to talk about Toy Story when we’re talking about Correspondence Theory of Truth. But Buzz Lightyear is a perfect example. He thought he really was Buzz LightYear, that he really flew in a spaceship, that he was a Space Ranger on a real mission from Star Command to defeat Emperor Zurg. But he’s not. What he believes does not correspond with reality. He’s just a toy.
Now lets connect that thought for a moment with some important doctrinal ideas of Christianity. The Bible says “God is truth”. Turn to 1 John 5:20 with me and follow along.
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true.”
“Him who is true.” God is true. He exists, He is there. He is pure and ultimate reality. Or you can say that He is Ultimate Actuality. And you can know Him because of Jesus Christ. Whether someone is certain He doesn’t exist (atheism) or unsure (agnosticism), He is there nonetheless. His existence isn’t dependent upon the opinions of others.
So He exists, AND, He has spoken. He has given us revelation. Revelation is information about Him that we would not know had He not chosen to tell us. That “revelation”, that “information about Him”, is the Bible. Now the Bible is NOT God Himself. It is a written account about God. And this written account corresponds with the reality of who God is. That means that everything it says about God is true about God and is consistent with who God is. God wants us to think about Him as He is so that we will worship Him for who He truly is. Can someone tell me what John 4:24 says?
“God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
You may not believe this but the Bible says a lot about truth. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Life and the TRUTH” (John 14:6) He didn’t say He conforms to truth, or, that He could point you to someone who knew truth, or that He had found it and wanted to share it with you. He said that He Himself IS truth. He is the incarnation of truth. To know truth is to know Jesus Christ. In the first chapter of John’s Gospel it says, “And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
Jesus said to a crowd: “If you follow my teaching then you will know the truth. And the truth will set you free.”