There has been a lot of things happening in our society regarding truth – whose “truth”, what is true, and does truth even matter? – because truth is deemed as relative within the workings of our culture. Some schools are eliminating classes on Western Civilization in the name of a “truth” concerning social justice and racism; movies are omitting historic details in the name of a “truth” about our common humanity over against national pride or achievement; and debates continue over the “facts” regarding climate change. We have been witnessing deliberate manipulation of “facts” at many levels within our institutions and in social media in order to interpret for us what some hold as the real “truth” about how things are and should be.
Personally, I am concerned for those students who may not be exposed to Plato and Aristotle who spoke to truth – along with knowledge, justice, beauty and goodness. Plato noted in The Republic that truth is at its best when students (of the republic, I think he meant) share in the work of their community, are fair-minded and not fighting for power. Plato spoke about not making one class “specially happy” over another, but that we all be united in harmony. Plato saw truth expressed in knowledge and goodness. He also said, “Have you never noticed that opinion without knowledge is always a shabby sort of thing? At its best it is blind….”
As a Presbyterian, truth matters to me. I recall Pilate’s words before Jesus, “What is truth?” I take to heart Jesus’ declaration that he IS the Truth. I turn to our historic Presbyterian foundational statements, one being Truth and Goodness. Our Reformed ancestors saw the connection: That truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness, according to our Savior’s rule, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Then there is another, the Great Ends of the Church, one of those Ends being: the preservation of the truth. As Presbyterians, the truth matters because there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise, says this principle, it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.
Have you ever noticed that opinion without knowledge is always a shabby sort of thing?
I believe it important to discover truth and embrace it, and not just settle for uninformed opinions. There can be unintended consequences to doing otherwise: not only stupidity; but for persons of faith, failing to attain wisdom and knowledge of God in doing what is right and just and fair (Proverbs 1:2, 3). This is why I am kicking off a series on The Great Ends of the Church beginning in October, both in Sunday morning preaching and teaching. Join us to explore the truth about the proclamation of the gospel; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”