What is Truth?
What is truth?
While praying about a direction focus our efforts in, we have really been drawn to the interaction between Pilate and Jesus found in John 18. In fact, if you come out to a Coffee and Conversation sometime you’ll see that the question, “What is truth?” is on our t-shirts. In the following blog post, I, Christiaan, want to look at a culturally popular interpretation of this interaction, and then examine the actual biblical interaction, as I feel they both explain the full story of what TDMI is focusing on and why.
The first interaction is from Jesus Christ Superstar, and I feel it really summarizes the cultural zeitgeist we find ourselves in.
“I look for truth, and find that I get damned.”
“But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths, are mine the same as yours.” – Jesus and Pilate, Jesus Christ Superstar.
Let’s examine the first part of that interaction.
“I look for truth and find that I get damned.” – Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar.
If you’ve been in church for a long period of time, you have probably experienced that while on the search for truth, if truth is found outside the dogma of the particular denomination you can find yourself an outcast even though it’s a true truth that is found in the bible. But it doesn’t stop there, seekers aren’t exactly accepted by the world either. No matter where the truth is being sought it seems there are always people who are content with the truth they know, the truth that they were taught as a child, or the truth that culture taught them to believe and anyone believing different, or asking questions should be silenced and ostracized.
Why is this? Ignorance? Control? Being sincerely wrong? I don’t have the answer for this, but I feel it’s important to affirm this is something that happens.
That’s one of the reasons I find the exchange in Jesus Christ Superstar so compelling, I think most of us can relate to looking for truth and being condemned for it at some point.
It’s also why it’s so important that when it comes to interactions with TDMI that we celebrate and encourage the search for truth and help where we can in making sure that those involved have the right tools to aid them in their search.
But that’s not the entire interaction, the second comes from Pilate.
“But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths, are mine the same as yours?” – Pilate, Jesus Christ Superstar.
This is the quintessential summation of the argument of relativism which is that there is no true truth. There are some truths that aren’t objectively true, but that doesn’t mean that no truth can be absolute or truly true. But even in Pilates questioning of what truth was he was on to something. True Truth, or Absolute truth has three defining features: It is always true. It never changes. It is objective. Either 2 + 2 = 4 or it doesn’t. Either a god exists or it doesn’t. Either Jesus was the son of God or he wasn’t.
For us at TDMI, we believe in objective truth, but aren’t scared of acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers, and therefore need to keep searching.
Finally, I want to touch on the first-hand account of what actually happened with Jesus. It’s interesting.
Jesus after being asked if he was a king responds to Pilate, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and come into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37 NIV).
“Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” – Jesus (John 18:37 NIV).
This coupled with the other words of Jesus declaring he is the truth, is revolutionary. As Christians, we understand and realize that all true truth is rooted in Jesus, and if we claim to be on the side of truth, we have to pay attention to what he says.
This is where this new focus comes into play. When William was originally formulating what TDMI would do, his refrain was repeatedly, “My heart is for discipleship… I want to help others understand what this Christian life is really all about.” While the rest of the leadership agreed that those were good goals, we struggled with how to actualize those in a specific and intentional way, so we just did what we felt was right in that case.
But with a focus on truth, we are simultaneously narrowing our focus while also broadening it.
What is discipleship except teaching and equipping people to know and teach others about Jesus – teaching them about truth. What is helping others understand what this Christian life is all about if it’s not teaching about who Jesus is and what he said. But it doesn’t stop there.
TDMI is focusing on intentionally equipping and helping others in their search for truth, by providing opportunities to learn about the truth, resources in their search for truth, and to help guide them on their journey while not robbing them of that necessary aspect of the journey of coming to their own conclusions as a result of their own research and asking their own questions.
I hope you’ll join us in celebrating this new focus and be part of it as we explore how best to aid others on their journey and continue on our own.
- Christiaan Funkhouser, M.Div.