What Is Truth?

So, Are You A King?

Pontius Pilate, while judging Jesus of Nazareth, asked the following questions, all to determine whether the claims of the Scribes and Pharisees was true: that Jesus was claiming to be a king and therefore committing treason against Caesar:

Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” (John 18:33-35)

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered,“You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. (John 18:37-39)

Significantly, although Jesus claimed, or at least implied, that He was indeed a king, Pilate found Jesus to be innocent of the accusations of treason the Scribes and Pharisees had cast against Him.

Of even greater significance in this case is the fact that Pilate confessed that he did not know the Truth, even though, ironically, Jesus had stated that He is the Truth.  In addition, like many post-modernists, or existentialists, or atheists in today’s world, who in spite of their insistence that Science is the only way to know the truths about human creation and the existence of the earth and the cosmos, Pilate essentially declares that Truth is unknowable, a very ironic statement coming from one who is in the position of deciding whether someone should be crucified.  

Therefore, many of today’s modernist philosophers say that absolute truth does not exist, all while refusing to listen to the words of Jesus, the One who came to deliver the Truth, as He said:Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice,” (v. 37) .  

No Absolutes?

I heard a story once, probably fictitious, about a very intelligent man who said, “There is no such thing as absolute truth!”  His statement was followed by what another man said in response, a statement that exploded the first man’s faulty logic: “You say there is no such thing as absolute truth? Are you absolutely sure?”  

As a tenured Professor of English and Literature for twenty years at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, I encountered many speakers and writers who had determined that knowing what a particular poet or playwright meant or intended when writing a poem or play was impossible because of the indeterminacy of language itself.  

Deconstruction and the Destruction of Truth

Building on the ideas of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, for example, the concepts of “deconstruction” entered the realms of literary criticism.  

A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth; asserts that words can only refer to other words; and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings.  (Source)

To explain this problem further, even as children we found that learning what a ball is, for example, means deciding on multiple factors, not just shape.  We may mistake an orange for a ball, or decide that a ball may be peeled and eaten.  Looking and seeing an animal in a field might have been confusing because we had learned that cows were what lived behind the fences in most areas of the country. Therefore, what we thought were cows that say “Mooo,” were instead horses that say “Neigh.”

Jacques Derrida, while focusing on these difficulties in defining terms or meanings, came to the conclusion that there are too many holes, or gaps, in our words and conversations to lead to complete interpretations, meanings, or definitions.  By “deconstructing,” or taking apart a story or poem, therefore, we must observe the gaps in meaning that cannot essentially be determined, much less re-constructed into a precise statement of interpretation.  

Derrida focused on these difficulties in defining terms or meanings and came to the conclusion that there are too many holes, or gaps, in the definitions of our words and resulting conversations.  By “deconstructing,” or taking apart a story or poem, therefore, we observe the gaps in meaning that cannot be essentially determined.  Derrida and other contemporary deconstructionists decided, therefore, that absolute meanings are impossible to determine.   

The result of this lack of surety not only in the existence of Truth, but also our human inability to find the Truth results in a “Pot-Luck” menu of ideas that counterfeit the Truth, yet are still accepted as Truth.  

And instead of the One Way, Truth, and Life, who has been given to us in Jesus Christ, we have been led astray by many false prophets and antichrists who have gone forth into the world, proclaiming their own false gospels.  Eastern mysticism, for example, has infiltrated our culture today to such an extent that it is not even acknowledged or recognized distinctly when it appears:

  • Just breathe slowly and deeply and you will find inner peace.
  • Merely repeat the same phrase to yourself over and over, and enlightenment will come.  
  • Obtain kundalini, or a spiritual awakening, by perfecting certain hatha yoga postures. [Kundalini is a Sanskrit word meaning either “coiled up” or “coiling like a snake.” There are a number of other translations of the term usually emphasizing a more serpent nature to the word – e.g. ‘serpent power’.]  (Source)
  • Far Eastern Mystical thinking is basically “the belief that the ultimate expression of reality consists of an impersonal life force. There is no God for a person to personally relate to, or one who is able to reveal himself to humankind” (Source).

The Problem: Truth Versus Falsehood

In the Eighth Chapter of John’s Gospel, we read the following story one that perfectly illustrates the conflict between Truth, as manifested in Jesus Christ, and falsehood, as represented by the Pharisees, the group of religious teachers who adamantly believed that their understanding of the Law of Moses and tabernacle worship were wholly correct.  Jesus firmly declares that He is God’s messenger sent to speak the Word and to reveal the will of God the Father.  Jesus then confronts the Pharisees for their refusal to acknowledge the message He has delivered to them:

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”  As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. (John 8:24-30)

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

A number of lessons may be learned from this story:

  • First, those who adhere to falsehood and lies despise the Truth when it appears and will do anything they can to destroy it because it contradicts what they believe to be true.
  • Jesus has come to declare the Truth, and those who believe in Him and continue in His Word will know the Truth that will set them free from the bondages of sin.
  • Even those who have been saturated with lies and falsehoods may turn and come to the Truth that is resident in Jesus Christ and His Word.

As a pagan ruler under the authority of ancient Rome, Pontius Pilate may probably be excused for not knowing the Truth, even though he was confronted with the Truth in the person of Jesus Christ.  Even though he found no guilt in Jesus, he nevertheless handed Him over to the Jewish religious leaders who sought to kill Him.  Here is the story from John’s Gospel:

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him. (John 11:47-53)

From this story we learn that the true purposes of the chief priests and Pharisees was not to receive the Truth about Jesus Christ, but instead to retain their power.  They were the “establishment” of the time, and Caiphas was determined that they should do everything possible to retain that power for the good of the nation as a whole. The times may have changed since then, but the hearts of the leaders of the people have not changed.

The True Way to Peace

In fact, seeking approval and cultural acceptance from the popular culture today, many Christians and churches have opened the door to the false teachings of the occult religions, Eastern mysticism in particular.  Yoga classes are being held in church facilities, and the teachings of Buddha are regularly brought forth in some pastor’s sermons.  Is it any wonder that many Christians today, including church leaders, have forsaken the teachings of the Word of Truth and held to the lies of Lucifer, just as the original sin of Adam and Eve was derived from the temptations of Satan: 

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Thus, seeking the enlightenment promised by Eastern mysticism, many in the church are not praying, but meditating instead, merely seeking to reach a kundalini-like counterfeit peace, instead of the “peace that passes understanding” that only comes from following the Truths of Jesus, who said:  “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).  

And this is how the Apostle Paul instructed the Philippian Church to receive peace in their hearts:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Instead, many Christians today, like Pontius Pilate, have accepted the fundamental lie of Satan: There is no Truth.

Many Christians assure themselves that there is real virtue in trying to see all the good they can in everyone and that in so doing they are showing Christ’s love. After all, isn’t love the most important virtue (1 Corinthians 13)? But love is meaningless without truth. Showing the influence of Eastern mysticism, a recent poll revealed that 71 percent of Americans, 64 percent of those who claim to be “born-again,” and 40 percent of self-described evangelicals do not believe in absolute truth.  (Source)

May we see the errors in our thinking and truly repent from believing the falsehoods of Satan, the enemy of our souls.

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  1. Biblical Mysteries Revealed » Finding the Truth — December 1, 2016 @ 6:20 pm

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