Back in 1955, when I was an freshman at the University of Toronto, I enjoyed talking with fellow students about how all truth was relative. I was an agnostic who, with others, confidently affirmed that one could be a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Sikh, or a Muslim. It made no difference. There were many paths to heaven or whatever.
That view of truth now prevails very widely throughout the western world. People believe that truth is whatever is true to you. There are as many truths as there are people. In last week’s issue of our local community paper, a columnist asserted that the meaning of life is YOU. Whatever you choose. Such a view sounds so appealing.
In a recent article on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, the questions was asked, should Facebook be the arbiter of truth and decency for two billion people?
But in my second year at the U of T, I was confronted by the claim that truth was not relative but fixed and absolute. Gil Dunkin, an engineer on the design of a supersonic jet called the Avro Arrow, gave me examples. Truth is not relative in mathematics. Two plus two never equal five but four. Gravity exists and so buildings cannot be designed to ignore gravity. Neither can random principles be applied to aircraft design. And what about the law of contradiction; that two contradictory ideas cannot both be true?
He pointed out that if consistent principles apply in all areas of the physical world, why would truths about life and ethics be relative? Can we just pick and choose what we want to believe about the purpose of life, where we came from, where we go after death, what is right and wrong, good and bad? Why would all these areas of life be flexible and relative, when gravity and math and the trajectories of the moon and stars are not?
My friend pointed me to the claims Jesus made in John’s gospel. When Jesus was brought to Pilate, John 18,19 tells us that Pilate was troubled. Pilate asked him where he was from and whether or not he was a king. Yes, Jesus replied, My kingdom is not of this world…for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. (18:36,37) Pilate scornfully replied. What is truth?
Ah, that is the question! What is truth? It’s no minor question. It is a question that has profound relevance to who we are, whether or not there is a God, what our destiny may be, what is good or bad, and much much more. Wise men realize the importance of truth. Winston Churchill said, The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. Zacherof, inventor of the Russian atom bomb said, The greatest power in all the world is not the atom bomb but truth.
It is crucial that we embrace the truth that is above and beyond all subsidiary truths, such as that of mathematics. Jesus made the astounding claim in John 14:6: I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
When we consider truth claims, it is important that the source be reliable. Someone has said; if you want to know what water is, you don’t ask a fish. If you want to know what truth and life is all about you don’t ask a time-bound; space-bound human. NOT Buddha, Confucius or Mohammed; you ask Jesus. Why? Because as he explained to Pilate, He came from beyond this world, from outside of time and space. He came from the Father to tell us the truth about what life and death is all about.
Jesus came to show us the WAY into the kingdom, the way to be forgiven for our sins, the way to everlasting life, the way to live a fulfilling life.
Jesus came to teach us the TRUTH about life and death, the triune God, origins, the nature of man, how to live now, and so much more.
Jesus came to give us LIFE, fulfilling life, eternal life, the energy through the Spirit to live productively, joyfully, peacefully, and hopefully.
We all have a crucial challenge; to settle the Christ-question. When we do that, we will settle the Truth question and the purpose of life question. The answers are all found in the Bible. If you are not familiar with Jesus Christ or the Bible, I’d suggest you start reading in John’s Gospel. Do not let another day go by without settling what you will do with Jesus Christ. The TRUTH MATTERS; IT IS ABSOLUTE. IT IS NOT RELATIVE.
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