Saturday, February 15, 2020

A Christian Worldview: What Is Truth?

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

In a world where truth is asserted on the basis of consensus, or conversely, to be hyper-individualized, is there actually such a thing as truth? The contemporary search to uncover truth includes immense computing power sifting massive amounts of data and modeling at levels not possible just a couple of decades ago. Has it brought anyone closer to the truth? Who knows? Regardless, it seems to me that each person does have a conception that certain things are true, and that truth conception influences their lives, that is their decisions, direction, interactions, relations, and values.

This series is about the development of a Christian worldview, and in that matter the basis for one's conception of truth is foundational. In the above snippet from the Gospel of John the word used for truth [Koine: aletheia] communicates a basis for understanding truth objectively, namely, that truth aligns with reality. Whereas Pilate demonstrated a relativistic view on the subject, Jesus had a very definite position on the existence of truth, and that truth had to correspond to reality. Jesus came to tell the truth; the thing that was actually so, the thing that was perseveringly so, the thing that cut across that which wasn't so.

If a Christian worldview is about seeing life through Jesus eyes, then Christians who have such will also have a robust concept of truth, just like Jesus. According to that kind of view, whatever a person may say, or believe, or promulgate may not actually align with reality. It is possible to be right or wrong, for something to be true or false, justified or unfounded, even in matters of morality, religion, and ideas. Christianity itself rises or falls on the reality of a single truth claim, that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead. If that event did not actually comport with reality, then Christianity is false and claims that it makes concerning morality and metaphysics would be called into question.

If truth doesn't have to comport with reality we devolve into a wonderland where the difference between fact and fiction is indiscernible. Imagination would rule the day, until a two pound hammer fell on the imaginer's head from a scaffold and ended the dream. Consciousness may be a weird, subjective thing but it cannot shrug off reality or the environment in which it arises will end up turning on that consciousness and biting it on the rear. We don’t get to make up the world we want and call it truth, we’re stuck with the world as it actually is.

Even metaphysical and moral "truth" has to comport with reality, the ultimate reality that is... God. The metaphysics and morality of Judeo/Christianity arose from that ultimate reality speaking for itself. The unseen creating God told people what his supernatural power did and what his omniscient wisdom knew was right. Jesus Christ represents the most direct sample of this occurring, so to have truth in one's morality or metaphysical concepts those have to align with Christ and what he said.

Because truth comports with reality, it also will function within reality, it must. If something is true, it will work. Nicolas Copernicus (1733-1543 CE) famously dealt with this certainty in dealing with retrograde motion of the planets. Geocentrism didn't work, and couldn't possibly comport with reality. I deal with claims, similarly non-functioning, all the time, especially in the charismatic circles I run in. Doctrine that comports with reality, particularly the reality of Christ and his word, will work in reality. Doctrine that doesn't comport won't work and is bad doctrine.

Inevitably, bad doctrine leads to bad practice.

Understanding the truth and looking at life on the basis of it is the heart and soul of a Christian worldview. Living by that perspective keeps followers of Christ from going off the rails; it keeps them from being deceived; it keeps us from being lost in the dark. It helps us to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus. Show me a claimant to Christianity that doesn’t have this robust concept of truth and I’ll show you someone, undoubtedly, not living according to Christ. So dear reader, how are you living?

"Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."

"...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

The next part...

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