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philosophy

Is It True That Grass Is Green And The Sky Is Blue?

What is truth?

That was the question Pilate (I believe rhetorically) asked Jesus on the morning he was crucified. While Pilate was trying to ascertain guilt enough to warrant a death sentence, Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate answered with a question of his own, a question philosophers had been asking long before this day of Jesus’ trial — and people have been asking in every generation since. “What is truth?”

Is 2+2=4 true? Is it true that grass is green and the sky is blue? Is it true that I sound like Dr. Seuss, even though I’m not trying to?

The truth is, yes 2+2=4 — every time, in every culture, everywhere, on every day of the week. That truth is objectively true based on fixed laws of math; there is never a situation where you will not get 4 if you add 2 plus 2. And the green grass and blue sky? Yes, sometimes, and no, not really. Grass is green, unless it’s dead — then it’s brown. And it’s true the sky looks blue because we see blue light from the sun scattered through our atmosphere most of the time, but at dawn and dusk we see more red and orange light — so technically the sky doesn’t have a color because it depends on the time of day, light, and angle of viewing the sun. Our statement then, the grass is green and the sky is blue, is true upon conditions. It can be true, but it can also be not true. Head spinning yet?

One more. “There is no such thing as absolute truth — truth that’s true for everyone all the time.” Is that true? Of course not; in order for that statement to be true, it must be true for everyone all the time! No such thing as absolute truth? It sounds absurd, but people assert it, and as far as doubting truth goes, many believe seventeenth century French philosopher René Descartes to be the founding father.

Personal truth as the only truth, has inevitably grown out of Descartes’ foundational proposition cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am.” After all, that’s the only truth any person can be 100% sure of—his own existence. Right? Stay with me for one more minute. Because if that’s the case and I can’t be absolutely certain that anything else is objectively true, it follows that I am the maker of my own reality and the only truth for me is what I perceive to be real based on my experiences.

But do you see the problem? The wrong I Am is at the foundation.

Truth is a person; Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

When Moses asked God his name, God answered, “I Am” (Exodus 3:14). He is the only one who measures truth by his very existence, because he is Truth. And when we start the search for truth with ourselves instead of its author, we end up with nonsense like, “what’s true for you doesn’t have to be true for me.” There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what truth is, but why wouldn't there be for people who don’t know Jesus? Truth is a person; Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). When we don't recognize Jesus as the truth, everything else becomes distorted.

Pilate wondered, “What is truth,” with Truth standing right in front of him (John 18:38). The answer to his question, the thing he was after, was right in front of his face — and he missed it. Today, let’s not miss it. Look into the face of Jesus and find the Truth.

Pilate wondered, “What is truth,” with Truth standing right in front of him — and he missed it. Look into the face of Jesus and don’t miss the Truth!

 

REFLECTION

What kind of problems are created if everyone is able to define their own “truth”?

What “truths” have you created, that need to be measured against what Jesus said or taught?

For further reflection, read John 8:31-38. How can/does the truth set you free?

If It's Truth, It's Ours!

Jesus called Himself "the Truth."

That declaration led the philosopher Arthur Holmes to declare that "all truth is God's truth."  After all, Paul hyperbolically told the Corinthians in his first letter to them, that all things belong to them - "For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future - all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." (1 Cor 3.21-23)

All things belong to the Corinthians because they are Christ's.  And Christ is God's. And Jesus is THE Truth. Truth then, wherever it is found, belongs to Christians. What great news for the Christian! What an opportunity we have to worship a God that brings all truth under the blanket of His ownership! Math. Art. History. Any truth to be found here belongs to the Christian. Science. Philosophy. Even in areas where it seems the very existence of God is challenged the most, truth exists. And it belongs to the Christian. Because we are Christ's, and He IS the truth.

And He is God's.

We cannot surrender the truth of 1 Cor 3.21-23 - that all things are ours, especially truth! Truth cannot simply be handed over to scientists who can "prove" things with a method, or philosophers who dizzy us with rationale and logic. Truth belongs to us!

And once we internalize this unique perspective, we mar the lines between faith and the pursuit of knowledge. Faith and education, faith and philosophy, faith and science. Faith in your heart and knowledge in your brain no longer stand in opposition to each other, but neatly come alongside and complement one another. How much more effective might Christians be if we were discipled to operate in this way - to love the Lord with our entire mind, not just our heart (Matt. 22:37)?  How different might the world be if Christians knew how to claim truth as their own, wherever it may be found?

Would we be better prepared to withstand the intellectual assaults of science and evolution? Would students be more confident entering the college classroom knowing their professor is an atheist? Would our workplaces be transformed because Christian employees have a worldview that doesn't pit what they learn at church against the "real-world," but rather provides a lens through which to see Christ in their real-world experiences?

All truth points to the existence of a Creator, to a Savior, who redeemed a sinful and fallen world. All truth is objective and points us to the One who IS Truth. Truth is a Man. His name is Jesus, and He belongs to God. And all Truth is God's.

And all Truth is ours!