What is Truth? Depends upon who we ask.
- Secular encyclopedias tell us Truth is a philosophical problem. See Truth (en.wikipedia.org) and Truth (britannica.com).
- Some claim Truth has something to do with not smoking. See Truth Initiative® (truthinitiative.org).
- Others insist Truth must correspond with their version of reality (see If Truth Isn’t Truth, What Is It? (psychologytoday.com)).
- A religious encyclopedia introduces the idea of a Creator of Truth. See Truth (newadvent.org).
The Bible defines the Truth as Jesus.
John 14:1-6 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many [a]mansions; if it were not so, [b]I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Because Jesus is the Truth, that is why Christians find Pontius Pilate‘s response to Jesus so startling.
John 18:33-38 New King James Version (NKJV)
33 Then Pilate entered the [a]Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bearwitness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
Pontius Pilate was standing next to Jesus, The Truth, and asked Him, “What is truth?” Then he just walked away. What does it say about Pilate? What Truth anchored Pilate? What did he believe? Anything?
If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything
What did Pilate stand for? Because he did not stand for anything, Pilate executed — cruelly crucified — a man he announced to the mob was innocent of any wrongdoing. Oddly, even though Pilate did not recognize the Truth, he spoke the truth about the Truth.
So what is the Truth? Why do we need an answer? If we do not stand for anything, what won’t we do? Until we stand for something, will we not fall for anything? Won’t we will be like Pilate? Won’t we will do evil because we do not know and revere the Truth?
Thanks for this Tom and interesting take on an New Age controversy of truth. Up until the 60’s (?) truth was always defined by a set of standards there was never this thing about truth being relative to an individual. Courts of Law, schools etc. used and taught definitions from sources such as https://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/truth. Nowhere does that leave it open to interpretation. As a jail Chaplain I often get this “attitude” from those coming in and I always ask the question so you would be okay then since your here if tonight I decided I wanted money for a new cell phone and just go and take a few things from your house and your families. They of course look at me like I am nuts. ‘You can’t do that you are a Chaplain’ yes but my truth says its okay to steal just like yours did. Usually gets them thinking pretty hard.
Moral relativism doesn’t look so good when we become its victim.
The devolution of truth in Webster’s may be sad, but it is also funny. Thanks for the link.
I have this old Funk and Wagnalls (big, two volume dictionary) that was published four years after my birthday stashed under a couch in the family room. Whenever I am suspicious another word has degenerated into mush, I check that dictionary to see what has changed. With respect the “truth”, 1956 is not old enough.
When we need a definition of the truth, we must use a timeless standard. We have to use the Bible, not the dictionary.
Yessir, and the misappropriation of truth THEN, is the same today.
This is what makes the question ‘what is truth?’ relevant in any age.
I acknowledge you’re a religious fellow, Tom, and you prefer to link some contemporary perceptions to Biblical prose… but honestly… or rather, truthfully here… all you needed in this entire post was your first line….
“What is Truth? Depends upon who we ask.” Fini.
Everything after that is all relative “truth”. I’m sure Pilate thought he was delivering “truth”.
If I had stopped as you suggest, what would you have commented upon?
Not much is known about Pilate, but he doesn’t seem to have been much concerned about the truth. We do know Pilate deliberately had a man he knew to be innocent cruelly executed. That is the truth.
Why did Pilate wash his hands and then have Jesus executed? Pilate’s reasons were political. He did not want the Jewish Sanhedrin complaining to the Roman Emperor that he had allowed Jesus, a man who claimed to be the Messiah, live. Pilate knew Jesus made no earthly claim to the Jewish throne. He knew the Jewish priests hated Jesus and for reasons Rome had no just reason to care about, but he was afraid of those priests.
So why this verse?
The Romans posted the “crime” of those they executed on their crosses. In this case, Pilate posted Jesus’ “crime” so as to tweak the pride of the high priests. That is delivering the “truth”? Well, Jesus is the King of the Jews. He is the King of Kings. Still, I am thankful God gifted me with a better perspective on the Truth than Pontius Pilate exhibited.
To your last sentence…
“God gifted me with a better perspective on the Truth than Pontius Pilate exhibited.”
Uh.. I rather think that God has gifted you with being born during these times in which your perception of truth to the current reality in which we live… is an acceptable truth. In his day… Rome’s truth prevailed.
Rome’s “truth” prevailed? Well, Rome’s version of the “truth” was a problem. Check out this series. https://citizentom.com/2017/03/30/who-is-this-man-by-john-ortberg-part-7/.
Are we gifted by being born in these times? I think so, but so does God.
The Romans certainly knew less about the Master’s Will than I do now. Still, I would rather know the Master’s Will, risk the greater punishment, and pray He will give me the spirit of obedience. To the extent our Lord permits, I would not be a slave to sin.
Read the entire parable, Luke 12:35-48.
I’m not challenging the validity of His will, Tom. Just suggesting a truthful sidebar to it all.
Truthful sidebar?🤨 Perhaps, but I think not.
That was sarcasm.
That is point to the Truth.
We each have a limit perceptions. We may not see the Truth. We may cloud what we do perceive with our biases. Therefore, we need to share what we perceive that we might see more and overcome our biases.
The Bible has survived centuries because it provides insight to the Truth and timeless wisdom.
What happens when someone reads the Bible and begins to study it with care? The Bible is not an easy work to read. So most don’t read it. Still, some do, and I have observed three things.
1. The reader believes because they hear God’s voice.
2. The reader flees because they hear God’s voice.
3. The reader doesn’t know what to think. This is a rare occasion. It hurts to sit on a fence.
God is holy, holy, holy. When we encounter Him, either we must humble ourselves and hope, or we must flee to salvage what is left of our pride.
BTW. Make certain you check out this post before you decide it is not worth your trouble.
Included in Pilate’s statement: ‘ I find in Him no fault,’ this was true on 2 important levels.
1. That before him stood a man who was no threat to him- ‘no fault’ as in not even a parking ticket- just a commoner.
2. That Pilate, even in his lack of interest in ultimate truth, and even in his disinterest ‘according to the scriptures,’ he spoke prophetic words that prove the reliability, the consistency, and above all, that he was actually helping to fulfill the Lord ‘being led as a lamb to the slaughter.’
While Pilate may have had no interest in sin or Truth, the fact that he aided and abetted the execution of an innocent man is not lost on anybody who sees the excellence of scripture.
As I’ve been suggesting to Tom, CS, Pilate was acting out truth in the world of Rome in 30-36 AD.
I recently read a book called “A Theology of Love” by Mildred Bangs Wynkoop that interpreted just this thought and it was very helpful to my understanding. I hope you don’t mind if I quote a couple passages of the book at some length:
“It is this analogy that Paul uses to link all men with Adam (anthropos). As head of the race of he (Adam) represents all men, and what he did can be said to be what all men do. In Adam, men are born into a race which is ‘alienated from the life of God’. The centering of devotion is not on God but, in pride, on self and the things of ‘the world.’ Everything that ‘Adam’ stands for is the ‘old man,’ the false and destructive orientation of the self outside of Christ. This is the ‘kingdom of the world,’ the ‘reign’ of sin and death, the locus and dominion of sin. It is not a mere ‘principle’ but an existential fact in the experience of the race and in each man in the race.”
. . .
“In total contrast to this is the headship of Christ, the Second, or Last Adam, the ‘new man.’ Christ is the true Head, the First-born of all creatures, whose authority had been usurped by the ‘old man.’ At this point the profound significance of the Incarnation is revealed. Christ, as the true Corporate Person (in relation to mankind), takes on himself the whole heritage and sin of the race of mankind. No one else can do this. He is the Lord of the kingdom of God. In Him is the reversal of all that the old man has done. By His death and resurrection He established His headship and ends the alienation of the race from God. His is God with us, Emmanuel. In Christ the true Head of the Church, men become one with the new Corporate Personality. In each believer is incarnated the total life of the new race; and Christ, the Head, incorporates into himself, as the New Man, every believer. This is the kingdom of God. This is the Life of God in each Christian. When Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ He was contrasting His headship with the contrary, destructive, deceptive way which was the lie and death. The Adamic orientation is the false way.
“This should give practical meaning to the strange wording of Paul, ‘Put off the old man with his deeds,’ and, ‘Put on the new man’ (Col. 3:9 and Eph. 4:21-25). This act of total renunciation of the loyalties and dedication to a life as characterized by Adam, and the total new alignment with Christ the New Man, constitute a vivid commentary on the meaning of both sin and holiness. It also puts the new responsibility for serving under the Kingdom of one’s choice, squarely on the individual person who comes to Christ.”
If one accepts this way of interpreting these passages (and in so far as I understand them, I do), then the “Truth” incarnate and, in the most profound sense of the word “Truth” imaginable, was staring Pilate squarely in the face when he asked what Truth was. Pilate need only have reached out to kiss Truth’s hand, accept Truth’s love and bow in awe to Truth’s promise.
Good! I would just add one thing. In addition to His death and resurrection, Jesus lived among us and one of us. He committed no sin. He was a man without the blemish of sin, and that was perhaps the greatest miracle of all. Jesus somehow raised even sinful men from the dead, but only Jesus lived a life without sin, and that made His death an acceptable sacrifice for our sins.
Cool post, Tom. I sometimes say the most important question we will ever have to answer is when Jesus says, “who do you say I am?” I suspect Pontius believed Him, he said “I find no fault in him.” He believed He was who He said He was, but he walked away anyway.
I think defining “truth” can be kind of scary for people. We like to control the truth. We often seek something hard and fast to cling to, something concrete, objective, and tangible. Reason, science, logic, evidence, our own understanding, these can all be really good things, but Jesus also says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Evidence can be disproven, science can discover new things and change, and there will come a time when even our own reason will fail us, our bodies including our brains will fall away, and yet in Him the truth will remain constant.
Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the post.
Good observation. I have puzzled over that, but it is hard to accept the possibility that Pilate believed Jesus and crucified Him anyway. Yet as James says, even the demons believe.
There is another possibility.
I suspect you are right, but Pilate may have reacted in simple superstition.
Undoubtedly, Pilate knew Jesus by reputation. Jesus’ preaching, miracles, cleaning of the temple, and His parade on Palm Sunday would have garnered his attention. After that, having Jesus before him, speaking without fear,…. Nevertheless, in addition to knowing what Pilate knew, the Chief Priest knew the Old Testament, and that did not stop him.
I guess I would say that Truth is that which demonstrably conforms to reality. A few years ago I would have had a different answer. But Faith is possibly the worst way to determine or demonstrate the Truth of claims. For… what could you not believe simply by Faith Alone on or against either no or against bad evidence?
Faith allows you to believe literally anything you want to, without the responsibility or honesty to actually demonstrate the Truth of what you claim to be true. Such as… flat, stationary Earths, firmaments over the earth and the Blue sky as “The floor of heaven”.
Good people of faith can appreciate the ‘floor of heaven,’ without engaging your desire for an unnecessary detour.
Here is how the Bible defines faith.
We don’t believe in God and in the veracity of His Bible because we want we to believe in some kind of wonderful fairytale. I cannot see the air, but because of the evidence I believe air exists. God is a spirit. He is infinite. Whatever He is boggles the mind. Still, because of the evidence, I believe in Him.
We believe because of the evidence. Faith follows. We don’t believe just because we want to believe. The God of the Bible is scary. He is holy, holy, holy! We are imperfect sinners. We cannot appease Him. We cannot perfectly obey Him. We can only love Him in return.
How does faith increase? Evidence. Do you know how to swim? How do you gain confidence in your ability? By doing it and succeeding. Similarly, when we live by the Bible, our faith increases because its teachings work in practice.
Ton, Great post and topic.
Simple word truth when you have faith.
Somehow something simple was made complicated by people who make the same mistake as King Solomon and believe they are capable of understanding what only God knows.
Your comment about Pilate did not stand for anything is spot on in relation for standing up for truth.
And the truth is a simple matter which only became complicated because of the evil influence of a someone or something who apparently knows the vulnerabilities of mankind because he experienced the failure.
While philosophers endlessly expound all their opinions, just as King Solomon verse,
Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. (Ecclesiastes 12:12)
In other words, the truth is simple to people who are upright. And when they stray, it is because the truth is, they are looking for excuses to justify their failings. Or their presumption they have the capability to find what King Solomon decided would be “chasing the wind.”.
Their failings are as you stated,
They did not stand for anything or chose to not walk on the path which only upright walks.
This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29)
Regards and good will blogging.
We know the difference between right and wrong. That is written on our hearts. We have logical proof God exists. We have historical evidence Jesus exists. We know no man would have, much less could have written the Bible. Moreover, the Bible explains that otherwise would make no sense. Yet “they have gone in search of many schemes.”
Yep, scheming to avoid the simple truth, in my opinion,
Regards and good will blogging.
Three of the most penetrating words strung together.
The silence Pilate met with was more stunning- but expected.
Should generate lots of good chatter- I’ll check back later. Lol