What Is Truth?

Those who know their Bible well would know that the title of this article came from the lips of Pilate in John 18:37. It was his response to Jesus’ words: “To this end was I born … that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Just as Pilate was trying to sift truths from falsehoods when appraising Jesus, even more so, people today are faced with the same challenge of sifting facts from falsehoods that come through the social media. 

We are constantly bombarded with loads of information which make the task of differentiating facts from falsehoods difficult, if not impossible. Since the shocking victory of Mr. Donald Trump in the presidential race last November, the question of how so many people believe obvious untruths has taken on new urgency. According to Professors Fernbach and Sloman, “the Trump administration propagates falsehoods about voter fraud, climate change, and crime statistics.” More recently, Mr. Trump twittered that the Obama administration authorized the wiretapping of his Trump Tower in New York during the election campaign. Mr. Trump also made known his contempt for the mainline media by calling them the most dishonest people on earth.

His war with the media prompted a swift reply from Mr. Bret Stephens, a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).  In his speech delivered at the University of California in February 2017, he vehemently defended a free press and the intellectual integrity of his fellow journalists. For them, their work hangs on two pillars: truth and trust. He said, “When you read a story in the Journal (WSJ), you do so with the assurance that immense reportorial effort has been expended to ensure that what you read is factual. Not probably factual. Not partially factual. Not alternatively factual. I mean fundamentally, comprehensively and exclusively trustworthy.” As Bernard M. Baruch said, “Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”  

What has that to do with Christians today? I believe for us it is paramount that we should embody the truth in word and deed. This embodiment of truth means there is an exact correspondence between our practice and our profession. Furthermore, we should have no traffic with the deeds of darkness but rather we should expose them for what they really are (Eph. 5:11). This may cause us to ‘speak the truth in love’ even at great personal expense. There are times when we need to lay the truth on the line. Tell it like it is. Stand up and be counted regardless of the cost to us personally. 

The world around us desperately needs such people of truth. And Christ expects nothing less from us. May we be that kind of people for our Lord Jesus Christ! 

Rev. Mark Tay