Why Is Truth Important?

Hi friends,
A couple questions that I’ve been doing my best to try and answer thoughtfully. What would you say to the following questions?

  1. Why is truth important?
  2. Why did Jesus say that the truth would set us free?
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  1. Without truth we know nothing and are subject to our own foolishness - hopelessly falling into nihilism or worse, solipsism.

  2. IMO, Jesus used this saying to illustrate Himself as THE Truth. The truth found in Jesus is salvation. Without salvation we are headed for destruction due to our own sinful nature, which God is completely justified in condemning those lost to their own sin. For all know, but not all accept the truth of Jesus Christ. As it is said, the gospel of the cross is foolishness to the Greek due to their love of wisdom and the Hebrews see the cross as lacking power, but this too is powerlessness as every knee will bow and every tongue will confess to Jesus who conquered death itself and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.

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Hi Andrew,

I think you’ve asked some good questions. I appreciate that both of them are of such fundamental nature. I’m curious, why do you ask the first one?

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Hi Brian,

Thanks for your response. I’ve come to believe that knowing the truth is important. It helps us function as individuals, which helps us in our relationships. What I’m looking for are some arguments for and against this assumption. Do you have any?

I’ve also been wondering how the idea of us wanting to know the truth is connected to a person (Jesus) and not an idea.

Does that help?

@AndrewIngram
Thanks for explaining what you’re looking for in the dialog.

Of course the most basic biblical answer is Jesus claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. So if we see any value to the claims of Jesus then we must seek to understand, given the limits of our human abilities, what he is telling us and why.

On an experiential level reason seems to tell us that there are things baked into our human experience. There are things we know intuitively. Look at any small child, from the moment they become verbal they express to the world “unfair!” They may not yet understand right from wrong or why one is good and the other bad, but they feel something is not right—and against them. So an innate sense of justice/injustice seems to be baked into us.

Similarly there’s an inherent quest for knowledge and as we grow the ability to distinguish through our experiences that which is real and that which is fantasy or imagination. Through trial and error, or actually believing knowledge shared by our elders, we come to define information that we would categorize as true. Example: I’m told touching the fire will hurt. When I willfully put my hand in the flame and it hurts I recognize that as fact and truth. So we spend our lives trying to categorize that which is true and that which is not.

Now our efforts in this endeavor are hampered by our own desires. Example: I really want that boy to love me so I interpret his actions as confirming that without adequate objective information. We skew truth to our own desire and agendas. Thus what we are claiming as our own truth may have little basis in truth and shouldn’t really be called truth at all.

Case in point, it’s exceptionally easy to see this in others and not ourself.

So if we inherently value and seek knowledge that is true, AKA truth, and experience has shown us our own heart can deceive us, then we must seek truth outside our own experience. Now if my heart is capable of deception, I must assume to a reasonable extent that it is true of others, and that which I’ve been taught by others. Example: a child can be raised with an assumed attitude that their race or ethnicity is superior to another. They assume it to be truth until they can objectively separate from their own experience and reassess the validity of the claim.

So if truth can be elusive within humans, where can it reasonably be sought outside of that. The divine. From the earliest experiences of man we have recognized we need to seek truth outside of the human experience and seek it from the gods. Yet another attribute that seems to be baked in.

So why would that attribute be baked in? Perhaps because God (with a capital G) wants us to know the real thing when we find it, when we earnestly seek it.

Without question there is a step of faith required. Quite a dilemma that Truth (with a capital T) is unprovable. But it is not unreasonable.

Truth and trust go hand in hand. When you think about it our world systems collapse when trust is removed. Why would you deposit money in a bank if you can’t trust the banker or its foundational monetary system. We see this now in America in our political system. I believe we are at an all time low in trust in our elected officials. We’ve collectively chosen to believe that they are driven by their own agendas we don’t trust. It’s also why we have an immigration problem. Because the only trustworthy truth of some foreign nationals is that not fleeing means death so they suffer whatever is necessary to be in a safer place.

So truth is immeasurably important to humanity. Without it chaos, wars, famines are inevitable. Hopefully I’ve made the case that trust is essential and it is dependent on truth.

But truth is so much more than the facts that answer the how questions—science. Truth also involves the why questions—philosophy. And in both areas not all things are provable—yet. So we must rely on reason to show us which leap of faith will land us on solid ground.

Very hard to say what it takes in an individual for them to recognize, choose, and then come to know that Jesus is the real thing. Amazing that truth walked among us. And in Israel, in those three years of His ministry, there were those whose agendas were so entrenched they could not see truth standing in front of them—performing signs and wonders! How much harder is it bound to be now that we are 2000+ years removed from that time. We are still entrenched in our own agendas. Even believers find it takes a lifetime to relinquish our own agendas for God’s.

But God’s agenda is the way, the truth, and the life. And that also is immeasurably important.

I’ve been blessed thinking through my answer. Not easy typing on a phone. Hopefully the typos and autocorrect don’t render this unreadable. Thanks for such a compelling question.

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Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for the thought-out answer. You’ve done a great job making your case for why truth is important. I’ve learned a lot.

Do you think it’s fair to say that Jesus deemed himself as the Truth because he fulfills both how and why we should live?

I was just reading something about “being real” and was wondering how this idea might tie into this conversation as well. I wonder if Jesus was saying that he’s the original human. He’s the first one that ever existed and unlike us he’s not replica. Would this idea or thought about the truth (instead of it as an idea of fact) help us in the following way? We’re searching for an identity and we get our identities by looking to other people, whom we look up to and respect. Jesus is saying that he’s the true human after who’s life all should model theirs after.

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This is great @Jennifer_Judson! There are so many great points.

Something that resonates with me is the distinction, you seem to allude to, between facts and truth.

The scientific world deals in facts. Facts change, I’m thinking of Pluto right now.

The religious world tries to deal in truth while Christianity holds the only claim to truth, and specifically Truth in the person of Jesus. Truth is eternal and it is desire of human hearts.

Thanks for your thoughtful insight!

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Thanks Andrew! Yes, that helps. It might be helpful to define what we mean by truth so that we’re all on the same page. Would it be agreeable to say that truth is that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God?

If not, how would you define it?

If so, in response to the question, Why is truth important?, one could ask, Are you seeking a truthful answer?

So, in questioning or even rejecting the idea of truth, we affirm its existence and objectiveness. Truth is utterly inescapable. The reason why truth (or anything) is important to us seems to me to be inextricably interwoven with what our purpose is. I believe our supreme purpose is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. And there’s no way to do that apart from knowing and living according to the truth, or, according to what’s really real.

A question I find more perplexing is, Why is truth not important? I have a family member who’s a postmodernist and extreme skeptic. His final question to any discussion about truth is, But who’s to say?

But are any of us really willing to live out a life apart from the truth, even if it were possible? Are any of us, including my relative, OK with someone with whom we’ve entered into an agreement of trust violating that agreement - be it a spouse with their wedding vows, an employer with their promise of a paycheck, or otherwise? Some claim that truth is relative or can’t be known, but when it comes to the things we value, we all affirm, and want others to affirm, a knowable and objective truth. And when those things we value are violated, the truth becomes of paramount importance to us.

With respect to the idea of us wanting to know the truth being connected to a person (Jesus) and not just an idea, perhaps considering a few relevant texts might help shed some light here.

  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

  • Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

  • You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands (Hebrews 1:10)

  • … he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:25)

  • In him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

Jesus is the co-Creator and co-Sustainer of everything created. We can’t breathe, live, or move without him. We, nor anything created, could even have being without him. Only God has the power of being in himself. The ontological ground of everything created is God, which includes the person of Jesus. In other words, Jesus is ultimate reality. Put yet another way, Jesus is ultimate truth.

So, when Jesus said “I am … the truth,” we see that Jesus is God. And that he, not merely an idea, is the ground of all truth, all reality, and there is no truth apart from him. So that a person, Jesus, and not just an idea, is truth.

And so, to return to your original question of why truth is important, only when we know the truth - God in Christ - can we fulfill our purpose to glorify him by enjoying him forever.

I’m looking forward to other thoughts.

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I don’t think your answer is wrong, but I think the more basic answer lies in the Godhead of the Trinity. No truth can exist outside of that fellowship of creation. Basically God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit embody truth because they created it.

Jesus certainly made the claim (or deemed himself to use your words) to be the way, the truth and the life. He made the claim because of it’s foundation in truth, not as in a power move to preempt other claims. And I think that’s a distinction that should be clear in a culture were everyone thinks they own their own truth. Jesus was NOT just owning his own truth, he very much was truth.

Someone with a greater depth of knowledge should provide some guidance on this point. But my initial reaction is that God the Son has existed eternally begotten of God the Father, but I’m not sure it’s accurate to call him the original human. Pretty consistently we give that label to Adam. AND Jesus incarnation, becoming fully man, would have been just like us, but one who consistently chose His father’s will and led a perfect life. It is the fact that he was capable of sin that is his qualification to be the sacrifice that atones for the sins of those who chose to follow him.

Can anyone else add commentary on this. It’s a great question.

Just want to clarify.

When I say he was “capable of sin” what I’m meaning is that the possibility of him having a self-centered heart, rather than a God-centered heart was essential to the substitutionary nature of his mission and our salvation.