The first day of my Advanced English class, my professor announced to the class that we needed to get one thing straight before we commenced the semester. She then declared unequivocally that there is no absolute truth. She asked if that was settled or if anyone objected. My hand shot up. My heart was pounding as she and the class turned their attention on me.
“Ok then give me a fact, any fact,” she challenged.
“The earth is round,” came my response.
“Have you measured it?” She taunted.
I stared at her confused as to her retort.
“Give me another fact,” she persisted.
“Today is Tuesday,” said I.
“It is here.” Satisfied she moved on in her opening remarks.
I sat stunned.
Today I would have better answers. I would have challenged her statement as being self-defeating. If it is true that there is no absolute truth, then how is that statement true?
But I am not trying to get into the problems of modern education or the philosophical problems of relativity.
I want to explore the nature of truth. The world and the church have confused facts with truth and truth with myth. The moderns believe that truth comes from science and faith from religion. Ironically this philosophy would have never birthed science in the first place. Science developed because Bible believers saw the natural world as really there and able to be categorized and studied. Prior to this development people saw nature as mystical and unstable being at the whim of the gods.
Facts matter. They can be true or falsified, but they are not necessarily truth. The sum of two and two is four. This is a true fact. However, the answer is not in itself truth. Truth is living. Truth is what sets us free. Truth gives life. Rote facts are helpful in a great many things, but if they are merely something a computer can compute for us it misses the mark of truth.
Facts, true facts, can bind and restrain the same way that lies can. If the truth sets you free, lies are what keep us bound, but facts can do this too. It was a fact that the only foods available to feed 5000 people were five loaves of bread and two fish. The fact is that that little boy’s lunch could not feed 5000 men besides women and children. Math does not lie, but it is not truth.
The truth is that with God all things are possible. Jesus could see the potential in the boy’s lunch to feed 5000 whereas someone who only sees the facts, like his disciples at the time, could not. Jesus had instructed his disciples to give the people something to eat. They began to calculate how much money this would cost. They were not thinking according to the truth, but according to the facts.
John 8:31-32 “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
A disciple of Jesus holds to the teaching of Jesus, and that is what produces the truth that sets us free. When we apply the teachings of Jesus to our lives, we reap freedom. When we disciple the nations in the teachings of Jesus, the nations are set free.
The biblical worldview sustains the reality of true facts. You will encounter problems living in the real world if you remove the place for true facts. But if we reduce truth to mere one-dimensional facts we are in error as well. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. . .” Jesus is the Word, the Logos, made flesh. Truth is a Person. The Holy Spirit searches the depths of Jesus and reveals truth to us.
Jesus asks the disciples “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ, Son of the living God.” Jesus responded that, “flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Peter did not discover a fact by human logic; he knew the truth of the reality of Jesus. Some would call this faith, but it was not something he believed on faith instead of reason, it was something he knew as truth instead of as mere fact.
True facts allow us to travel safely by train, car, or airplane. True facts aid doctors in preforming intricate surgery. True facts come from a worldview of truth not a worldview of myth. However, truth in the context in which I am writing about it, has more to it than computable facts. When we fill our hearts and minds with truth we soar above the facts and gain a bird’s eye view of the world around us in a way that is impossible without truth.
If what we hold as truth is not setting us free, we have reason to question it being the truth. All religious figures other than Jesus create some kind of bondage, but Jesus came to set us free from sin and death. He did not bind us to our fallen nature; He came to lift us out of it. Only in Christ, do we not have to earn our righteousness. Only in Christ do we not have to strive to be good enough, we are made righteous by His righteousness. We live out of that truth, rather than by trying to make that truth real. If we are trying to be good enough or Christian enough, we have forgotten who He is and consequently who we are.
Only with truth can we rise above the natural facts of life and soar above from where we are seated with Christ in heavenly places.