What is truth? How important is truth? How do you define truth? Do you believe it is a problem in our society?
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, quotes Ralph Keyes who wrote a book titled “The Post-truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life” where he says, "I think it's fair to say that honesty is on the ropes: Deception has become commonplace at all levels of contemporary life."
Mohler quotes Keyes again with, "We no longer tell lies. Instead we ‘mispeak.’ We exaggerate. We exercise poor judgment. Mistakes were made, we say."
Mohler reports Keyes as reporting that a half million Americans hold jobs they attained with spurious qualifications and that an investigation conducted by the General Accounting Office once revealed 28 senior federal officials who did not actually hold the college degrees they claimed.
Mohler has an entire chapter in his book and a substitute title of “Welcome to the Age of Dishonesty.” I'm sure you are familiar with the accusations and stories of lying during the elections and in Congress.
So, how do you define "truth?" The dictionary says it is quality of being in accordance with experience, facts or reality; or, conformity with fact. A 720-page volume titled “The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict” provides these answers. "Truth is that which corresponds to its referent or that to which it refers." It gives Aristotle as "truth relies on the actual existence of the thing which a thought or statement is about." It also presents Thomas Aquinas with truth is defined by the conformity of intellect and thing; and hence to know the conformity is to know truth."
Drs. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek present several important things concerning truth that everyone should know. The first is, "Truth is discovered, not invented. It exists independent of anyone's knowledge of it." An example is the existence of gravity. There always has been gravity, and it is certainly true. It was discovered by Newton or just before him.
Another fact is that truth is transcultural. If something is true, it is true for all people, in all places, and at all times. A good example is that two plus two is always four for everyone, everywhere and all times.
Truth is unchanging, even though our beliefs about truth change. Society used to believe the earth was flat. When it was discovered that the earth is round and not flat, the truth about the earth didn't change, it was only our belief which chanted.
Beliefs cannot change a fact, no matter how sincerely held. Someone can sincerely believe something, but if his fact is not true, that means only one person is mistaken.
Truth is not affected by the attitude of the one professing it with his attitude. An arrogant person cannot make the truth he possess false, or a humble person to make the error he possess true.
All real truths are absolute. Suppose that I take a fall, which bangs my head on the cement, calling for a helicopter ride to a Wichita hospital. Suppose someone should not believe it. Does that change the truth?
Truth is still truth. It is living in a much different world today called Postmodern. Its description says, "Truth does not exist objectively; it is a product of a person's culture.”
I have a book dated 1998 by the authors whose names are Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler and who described the culture's situation in which we live. The title of the book is “The New Tolerance,” and it explains what was happening at the time of its publishment.
The authors pointed out that at the time of introducing the new tolerance, the Webster Dictionary description of tolerance was described as "to recognize and respect others' beliefs, practices, etc., without sharing them" and "to bear or put up with someone or something not especially liked." They also say, "The new tolerance is defined as the view that all values, beliefs, lifestyles and truth claims are not equal." They also point out that "The Bible makes clear that all values, beliefs, lifestyles and truth claims are not equal."
It's easy to see some very strong problems occurring in our culture. We also have more problems with "intolerance," which does not accept tolerance and is being enforced with various kinds of punishment.
I have only touched on the effects which have occurred in our world since the New Tolerance and its complications. You will find plenty of them in the news. Dr. D. James Kennedy, a man with nine college degrees and an outstanding minister for many years, after verbalizing the complications, ended his talk with his warning: Wake up America before it's too late.
Arris Johnson is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.