What is truth?

When I was at the men’s breakfast last Saturday I learned something kinda neat and that made me think about something else. So bear with me while I tell you the first thing to present the second.

We had a guest for breakfast who is a Pakistani missionary my church supports. Very interesting older man with quite the perspective on living somewhere you might be killed for your faith (and not just as a Christian). In any case he talked to us, among other things, about the Gospel of John Chapter 18 verses 33-38.

33So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

What he observed about these passages was the interactions of question and answer. In particular should we think Christ was being intentionally evasive or is there something else going on here. If you think about it a bit you will see that Pilate was asking a wrong headed question. What I mean by that is he framed a question that Christ could not answer in the way Pilate expected (yes or no) without misleading Pilate because of Pilate’s own preconception. So instead Christ answers him in a way to try to get him to think about what is really happening. When Pilate fails to make the leap Christ responds to the second question trying to show Pilate the difference between what he is thinking and what their interaction is about. Finally Christ explains to Pilate what he still refuses to “see”. Pilate responds with a rhetorical question and ends the exchange.

Now the thing about this exchange is that most of us have been on either side of a similar exchange. We think things are one way, but we’re so wrong about it our question can’t be answered as asked. The person on the other side is trying to get us to see that we just don’t get it, but we can’t/won’t break our viewpoint.

So the point is Christ was not being intentionally vague, in a similar manner we in various circumstances and for various reasons can’t or won’t pay attention to what is really going on. Eyes that don’t see and ears that won’t hear. This is not an uncommon theme in the Bible.

So I’ve told you the first thing, let me talk about the second.

I’m struck by the depth of the insight into the human condition of this passage and the many passages like it I find in Scripture. Whatever else you may think about the Bible or doctrines of infallibility there is a tremendous amount of real truth and insight in this book.

So the question is, does it seem reasonable that it was written as lie. Given the insight and truth revealed in the narratives is it more likely that it was written by deceitful or deceived men or that it is what it claims to be?  Which is the logically consistent view? Even if the answer lies somewhere in between there is still a broad range of claims there is sufficient reason for a person to heed. Yet many of us cannot or will not see that.

Just like it says.

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6 Responses to What is truth?

  1. TWF says:

    Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.

    That is a very interesting statement, IMHO. I was wondering if you would be so kind as to expound upon who you think is “of the truth,” as being of the truth appears to be a prerequisite.

    • dsholland says:

      Most interesting question. But let me question the implication of “prerequisite”. It says “is of” “listens”, not “is of” “will hear”, so it could mean that a person who has recognized Christ as “the way…” has become “of the truth” as scripture teaches. That person listens.
      That said in keeping with what I believe is the thrust of the question it is also true according to scripture that His sheep hear His voice, and that The Father has given those sheep. Again it is written, Jacob have I loved and Esau… well not so much.
      It is also written (Heb 9:6) that we are confident of better things concerning you 🙂

      So do we judge ourselves or trust in His judgement? Even Paul wrote (1 Cor 4:3) that he did not judge himself. Are we more capable?

      Does that address the question?

      • TWF says:

        You’re lucky I’m dyslexic. I nearly missed the verse you were aiming for in Hebrews. 😉

        …so it could mean that a person who has recognized Christ as “the way…” has become “of the truth”
        I think the sentences you gave after this one are more likely to be the case. I come to this conclusion through observing that this is Jesus speaking to people Himself, so they would have had to listen to Him first, prior to deciding that He is “the way…”

        So it does appear, to me, to be a case of predestiny. And from the verses you reference, you appear to understand that as well. It is a profound “truth” with some rather staggering implications when you ponder it. 🙂 But who am I, a mere work of the Potter’s hands, to be asking such foolish questions and making such foolish statements. Hasn’t the Potter got the right…?

      • dsholland says:

        Your not dyslexic, I was standing on my head! (Yes, 6:9 not 9:6 DOH!)

        Predestination is an interesting conundrum. If you judge yourself to have been predestined to destruction aren’t you sitting in the place of God? If that is the case how can you argue you were predestined since you clearly choose to sit there?

        The Potter has the right, it would be foolish indeed to presume what has not been promised, but it may be equally foolish to presume what has been promised is not for you.

  2. TWF says:

    Too true! Surely I would not want to jump to that presumption! 🙂 And, thankfully, that is not at all the conclusion I have come to understand. 😉 I come to my understanding after considerable labor and deliberation, so at this time I am fairly confident in where I stand. Yet at the same time, to hold my understanding… if I am wrong but don’t know it… I may still fall into a rather unfortunate category; and that is my point. No presumption necessary to be fated, because to be fated does not require that you know that you are predestined. In fact, you may just live your whole live fated for something while denying such concepts as exist. On the other hand, many who think that they are fated for something may find out that they were wrong (Matthew 7:21-23). It is a very narrow gate, you know. 😉

    And that is pushing at the threshold of saying too much here. I’ve probably even crossed it, so I better leave it at that. I’ll look forward to your reply, and to your next great post! 🙂 Cheers!

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