WHAT IS TRUTH?
A plethora of information, easily available today at our finger tips, creates confusion rather than clarity; recent information explosion has been creating confusion and chaos. Searching for the ultimate truth has been a central concern for mankind from the ancient of times. The poetic imagination of Keats asserted that ‘Beauty is truth, and truth beauty;’ this is only part of the answer. If ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ then beauty together with truth becomes a subjective reflection of our varied inner feelings. But there is an inner beauty, a beauty that transcends everything, which may help us to understand what truth is. Maybe we do not have the necessary humility to be selective and rely entirely on God’s grace to find the right way to realise the truth about God. There are so many religious gurus out there, how could they possibly know which is the right way to that ultimate truth. Jesus told Pilate, “In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came to the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” And Pilate then dismissingly enquired, “What is truth?” (John 18: 37, 38). It was indeed Pilate’s judicial responsibility to find out the truth before pronouncing his verdict, but he never cared to look at the answer, which confronted him in the person of Jesus. This is a problem confronting us as well: that we do not know how to see God, where he is. We cannot prove the existence of God by scientific methods; God is beyond proof, but we can experience him through God’s grace. We seek him in far away places, all the while he is so close to us; we need God’s grace in recognising him in places, people and events. “It is in Him we live, and move and have our being.”(Acts:17:28)
Jesus was indeed the answer to Pilate’s question, Jesus is the answer now and He is the answer for ever to this question. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.”(Hebrews 13: 8) The answer is that everyone who cares for the truth, who has any feeling or concern for the truth, must recognise the words of Jesus and the way He carved these words with His life on this earth and beyond. Instead, Pilate recycles an age-old question to Jesus in a cynical manner. Truth never penetrates an unwilling mind; only people on the side of the truth listens. This question has been going round and round since the beginning of creation. Rejecting the word of God was the reason for the alienation from God; this distrust alienated humanity form the creator. God gave mankind a freedom to choose whether or not to stay in a relationship with Him, but man chose not to believe in God’s word, man chose to follow his own instinct, and took to his own way. This fractured the perfect world that God created for companionship and communion. The word, Logos, is the truth, the bond between God and man.
This question (what is truth?) has become an important aspect of postmodern philosophy; it seems to be a postmodern enquiry because postmodernism is defined as a “world view characterized by the belief that truth does not exist in any objective sense, but it is created rather than discovered.” We can only discover things that exist. Truth in the postmodern context is created and sustained in cultural contours, which has no universal bearing. Truth has two dimensions: eternal truth, and created truth. We now live in a world of manufactured, designed, truth. Everything about us is designed and comes with a distinct designer label, our status, images, personalities etc. There is no in depth search for discovering the real person within us. Pluralism is the operative word; we have a multicoloured, multicultural, mosaic, plural personality. Therefore, it is difficult to find answers to questions such as: Who are you? Where do you come from? What do you stand for? What is truth? Individuals are encouraged to invent his or her own identity. This is the existential understanding that man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself; man will only attain existence when he is what he proposes to be.
If we listen to Jesus’ prayer for His Disciples as recorded in St. John’s Gospel we hear Jesus saying that God’s word is the truth (John 17: 17). Jesus also tells his disciples how Holy Spirit will reveal further truth about God and all that is there to know about the truth. (John 16: 13). It is the Holy Spirit who gave the church the written word (2 Peter. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16). It was the Holy Spirit that worked in the apostles and their followers interpret the person and work of Christ. “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 The. 2:13).World did not know God, but Jesus came to the world to reveal God’s unconditional love for us so that the love God has for His son can be the indwelling force that binds us together to eternity (John 17:26). This oneness is the central theme of Jesus’ prayer. Therefore, ‘the Word’ is the truth; but somehow it does not convey in English what Greek Logos did to John’s early readers. To a Jewish reader the Logos would imply both creation and revelation of God (Psalm 33:6). Various prophetic statements of Isaiah and other prophets have the power to reveal the meaning implied in the Logos. “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you that it may be well with you.”(Jeremiah 7:23)
John opens his Gospel with “In the beginning was the Word…… and the Word was God;” the first words of Genesis were ‘In the beginning God created….” In the first five verses of the first Chapter of John’s Gospel we see seven statements about the Logos. Therefore, the truth is that no man has seen God at any time but it is only Jesus living in the most intimate communion with the Father has revealed Him to humanity. The union between God and man is the purpose of incarnation. Jesus’ mission was fulfilling the purpose and promise of the eternal Father. God’s propose in calling Abraham was to bless the whole world, to bless both Jews and Gentiles. This purpose, healing a fractured world, is fulfilled through the faithfulness of Jesus, the Christ. This is the message, mission and the truth for creating the single family of ‘God’s people.’
Christian thinkers are divided over how to respond to postmodernity. Postmoderninty offers both a challenge and an opportunity for Christians. We need to develop a new apologetics to face these challenges. Some like the idea of challenging modernist way of trusting in logic and reason using postmodern arguments, but others think that it is a challenge to Gospel as Pilate challenged Jesus. It is therefore important for Christians to understand the agenda of the postmodernists and their secularist pluralism. It should be viewed as an opportunity to present Christ in the ‘market place’ so that consumers of religion will recognise in Jesus the path to the truth, the way to a fulfilling life to become stewards of all God’s creation, a life of wholeness and concern for the common good of the community and ‘God’s people.’
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