Jesus, the Truth of the Father
An argument once ensued in a Philosophy of Mind class lecture concerning Mind-body relationship. The various proposed arguments all sounded convincing. At this point someone stood up and said, “All these arguments cannot be accepted together, which of these is true? What is the truth?” Hilariously, a voice responded, “Jesus would have spared us this drama if he had simply answered Pilate when he asked the same question. This remark generated other funny side talks and laughter.
As the laughter subsided, a close friend of mine stood up and said, “Jesus had previously answered that question.” The gospel tells us that Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. So, tell us, someone said, “why did he not answer Pilate?” “Because Pilate asked the wrong question,” my friend retorted. The question ought to be “who is the truth” and not “what is the truth.”
Truth is simply seen as a statement about the way the world and things actually are. Truth in philosophy is the property of sentences, assertions, beliefs, thoughts, or propositions that are said, in ordinary discourse to agree with the facts or to state what the case is. People have all kinds of idea about truth. Some people think that there is no absolute truth. “Truth” for them is simply what they think. Everything is relative, and what is true for them might not be true for others.
In fact, from the days of earliest civilization down to our time, there have been men who doubted everything; because, as they maintained, there was nothing that had the certainty of truth; or what is the same thing practically, that nothing could be certainly known by man. And yet the mental instincts of mankind are perpetually driving them in search of truth.
Traditional correspondence theory of truth holds that an assertion is true if it corresponds with its object. However, Heidegger changes the whole notion of truth as follows: to say that an assertion is true signifies that it uncovers the entity as it is in itself. Such an assertion asserts, points out, ‘it lets the entity be seen’. The Greek word for truth is “Aletheia” which he translates literally as “unhiddenness.” Aletheia can also be said to express reality, the manifested, unconcealed essence of a matter.
Truly, Pilate asked the wrong question. The real question is, “who is the truth?” Truth is ultimately Jesus as the Son of God, manifesting the truth of God. Truth is not some set of beliefs that we all agree to; it is something that is given to us as it is a manifestation of God.
Jesus is the truth. Since Aletheia is translated literally as unhiddenness, it suggests that there can be truth only if something is disclosed, discovered or revealed that was already present but hidden. Jesus thus is the truth of the father, who was present but hidden but now revealed to us.
Exploring Various Senses of Truth
In the primary sense of the word, truth is a property of one’s knowledge. In secondary senses, truth is a property of being and, again, a property of one’s communicative expressions. Thus we may speak of cognitional truth, metaphysical truth, and communicational truth.
In general, truth in the primary sense is the epistemic validity or epistemological objectivity of one’s knowledge, the property by virtue of which one’s knowledge, precisely as knowledge, is genuine, authentic, and successful. The developmental or non-dialectical opposite of truth in this sense is cognitional non-truth, the simple absence of epistemic validity, the hallmark of ignorance. The radical or dialectical opposite is cognitional untruth or falsity, the presence of epistemic invalidity, the hallmark of cognitional error.
While “truth” in its primary sense denotes a property of one’s knowledge, in a secondary sense it denotes a property of what one’s knowledge is of, namely, of what exists or occurs, reality, being. Metaphysical or transcendental truth is the intrinsic knowability of being as such, just as transcendental unity is its intrinsic undividedness and transcendental goodness is its intrinsic desirability. On this mode of conception and speech, which is common especially but not solely in the scholastic tradition, transcendental truth, unity, and goodness are “convertible” with one another. Each of these properties is only notionally distinct from being itself and from the other transcendental properties. Thus transcendental truth is nothing other than being itself, considered under the aspect of its inherent aptness for being known. The non-dialectical opposite of truth in this sense is transcendental non-truth, the simple intrinsic unknowability of what merely is not, a distinguishing trait of pure non-being. The dialectical opposite is transcendental untruth or falsity, the intrinsic absurdity of what could and ought to be but is not, a distinguishing trait of moral deficiency.
Besides denoting the epistemic validity of one’s knowledge and the intrinsic knowability of being, “truth” can also denote a property of one’s communicative expressions, the words, deeds, or products by which one purports to inform other persons of something. Communicational truth is the fidelity to one’s own knowledge that one intends for those expressions by which one both purports and aims to inform. The non-dialectical opposite of truth in this sense is communicational non-truth, the simple absence of intended fidelity to one’s own knowledge, the characteristic feature of those expressions by which one does not purport to inform. The dialectical opposite is communicational untruth or mendacity, the presence of intended infidelity to one’s own knowledge, the characteristic feature of those expressions by which one purports to inform but aims to deceive.
In all its senses: cognitional, metaphysical and communicational, Jesus embodies the idea of truth. He is the residual and fountain of knowledge; knowledge of himself, of all that exists, reality and being, and much more he is the perfect conveyer of all knowledge. Consider the notion of truth. The opposite is falsehood, what is not true. What is true corresponds to reality. Jesus embodies reality.
Jesus, the Truth of the Father
As Christ the living word is truth, so his written word is truth. Many can say, “I have told you the truth.” However, Jesus did not just tell the truth, he embodied it. He put truth into a visible, concrete form so all who so desire can see it. What credulity he gives! A teacher can present a mathematical grammatical scientific, or historical truth, and what kind of person he is does not matter much.
Truth is far more than facts. It is not just something we act upon. It acts upon us. We can’t change the truth, but the truth can change us. It sanctifies and sets us apart from the falsehoods woven into our sin natures.
So, truth is attainable by all who are willing to look, with an open mind, upon the world as it is actually given to us, not as we would like to make it. And truth is reachable for those who are willing to look upon human nature as it is given to us, and not as we would like to make it.
I do not believe that we can seriously separate truth from the one who brings and gives us truth. Jesus’ teachings, the inspired writings about him and the daily revelation of Jesus by his spirit make up truth.
Jesus Christ meets the man of every age, including our own, with the same words: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world.
Jesus’ message applies to all the areas of life. He reveals to us the truth of our lives and all aspects of this truth. Jesus tells us that the purpose of our freedom is to say yes to God’s plan for our lives. What makes our yes so important is that we say it freely; we are able to say no. Jesus teaches us that we are accountable to God, that we must follow our consciences, but that our consciences must be formed according to God’s plan for our lives. In all our relationships to other people and to the world, Jesus teaches us what we must do, how we must live in order not to be deceived, in order to walk in truth.
The divine and universal truth is embodied and represented in the Son of God, who is the Godhead’s fullness; and truth as it is in Jesus is therefore not only the important truth of religion, of morals and of practical life; it is the great truth of the world, with all the grandeur of a universal truth. There may be other particular truths, subordinate to this, but not contradicting this, which are not in any eminent way truths in Jesus.
To proclaim Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Saviour is to make an absolute and universal truth claim. When the church declares that he is the way to the truth about God and eternal life, she is making a statement about reality that is true for everyone and everywhere, and not just for Christians. Implicit in the confession of Jesus as Lord is the acknowledgment of his sovereign jurisdiction over the whole world. The universal Lordship of Christ thus goes hand in hand with the claim of his identity as Truth-Incarnate.