faith life

How do you define truth?

Truth is reality as it actually exists. Ultimately, truth is the Triune God in which all creation lives, moves and has being. I believe that the clearest written depiction of truth is in the entirety of the Bible, which includes the story of God’s work and God’s people across time. Scripture contains the clearest picture that we have of Jesus Christ in the four Gospel narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus Christ is the best picture that we have of God. Jesus recognizes himself as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

I recently met with a congregant who shared some deep questions with me. I asked for permission to share them on this blog to more broadly share my response.

In what way would you define truth?

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner

4 replies on “How do you define truth?”

Universal truths make everyone feel safe, except for those who don’t believe them, they seem more objective and grand in scale and design. What about subjective truth. What happens when objective and subjective truth don’t line up, which one supercedes? This can be true when the letter of the law is imposed over the spirit of the law but when is the reverse appropriate? Isn’t allowing self to be subject to the spirit important? Doesn’t the spirit tell us when a certain “law” isn’t applicable in a certain circumstance? The problem there is that if everyone assumes that subjective truth reigns, prempting the standard, what happens to the governing law? (just some thought)

Simplistically – God’s Word is truth. By that I don’t just necessarily mean scripture, and I don’t mean to suggest any interprative framework for scripture, but ultimately since God spoke creation into existence, and in him we live and move and have our very existence, then He is truth.

Having said that there are many contingent truths that form as the coralary. There are truth’s that relate the natural law God spoke into existence, Truth’s about how humans should and should not relate to one another, etc… but they are all contingent upon the ultimate reality.

Now the question of how we derive truth is much more difficult. How do we know what the Word of God is regarding any particular issue, behavior, action, etc. We can pursue “knowledge” about the natural world through the use of the scientific method, and at least approximate the truth in that arena – always allowing for the possibility of minor or profound error of course. But when it comes to the most important questions, questions about love, morality, life and death, ultimately we must come to truth through faith. Faith in a particular epistomology, in a particular interpretation, in a particular understanding of God’s truth, knowing that we likely are erring in some way, but confident in the broad contours of our trust. We rely on the scriptures, on the traditional interpretation of those scriptures to lead us primarily towards that understanding of the truth which has sustained historical standing. Then we move on with much more uncertainty to epistomological frameworks such as reason and tradition, noting how easy the former is to manipulate and create rationalizations, and how fickle and contradictory the latter can be.

So Chuck, this is a well articulated argument you’ve laid out. God is truth. God makes the rules. When God breaks a rule, it’s really just His remaking of that rule. I’m OK with that reality. We are subject to God’s way (when we surrender). Do you think subjective “truth” is God’s way to work with/through the individual. Not that He is bypassing the objective rule but that objectivity in some cases misses the subjective experience. We are beings not doings. We are bound by the limitation of our experience. Two people “doing” the same “wrong” may be objectivly condemed but subjectively the reasons for the action are very different and therefore can be punished or emancipated based on the subject in question (the being).

Faith must be a matter of soul not mind. It can’t be arrived at by thinking it through and yet feelings can betray us. Is faith mostly a spiritual resonnating with truth? I can’t diesect it with my head, but my heart has been wrong about some important things. Faith has to be more than knowing or trusting, both have failed me at times. Faith has to be about sensing God’s integrity (Truth in Him)?

Can Truth be defined as God acting from His integrity and therefore Faith is our recognition of omnipotent integrity. Knowing that someone knows better than me what is best for me because it is what is best for Him too?

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