Truth seems to be a very elusive commodity. The great philosophical systems of our world are the off-spring of man's search for truth. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" (John 18:38), and many today live by the philosophy that what is true for you may not be true for me. Many of the major disagreements among people can be traced to the problem of trying to determine what is true or what is right.
One professor of eastern thought tried to avoid the problem by stating somewhat categorically that this concept of right and wrong was a thoroughly western concept; that in the west we want to argue for an either-or position but in the east people view truth not as an either or proposition but a "both-and" mind-set. Now this both-and mind-set seems to be becoming more popular in our western world in form of post-modern thought which declares that there is no objective absolute truth. "Truth" is what you believe it to be. Something can be "true for you, but not true for me." "Choice" is a big virtue in our consumer society. And choice extends to value systems, beliefs, and lifestyle choices. All are seen as equally valid. Choice of religious belief is by mix and match - whatever you feel comfortable with.
While such a view may work (to a certain extent) on an existential level and while it may appeal to our feelings, on a logical, intellectual, and truth level, it is a view that is untenable. Despite what the professor of eastern thought wanted to argue, even in India people know the difference between right and wrong, otherwise much of the Hindu religion from which this man wants to argue for the "both-and" concept from is itself meaningless.
Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32 TEV). I believe there is such a thing as absolute, objective truth. Those who argue against the concept absolute objective truth postulate that there is no such thing as absolute truth. But their argument is weak in that it fails the first test of truth.
Picture truth as sitting on a three legged stool. The first leg of the stool is that of logical consistency, that is, the statement has to be consistent with itself. The argument that there is no such thing as absolute truth fails because it is not logically consistent. If there is no such thing as absolute truth, then you can't be sure your statement to that effect is true. If you cannot be absolutely sure that your statement is true, then you have to realize that there might indeed be an absolute truth (though you may not be aware of it at the moment). On the other hand, if you maintain your position that there is no such thing as absolute truth, you have in fact made an absolute statement which then destroys the very argument you are presenting.
The second test of truth, the second leg of our proverbial stool, is empirical evidence - does it fit with the known facts? Some statements might sound correct by themselves, but they may lack any factual evidence. The reason that Christianity stands unique among the world religions is because Christianity and the Bible are verifiable and consistent with known facts. History, geography and archeology are disciplines that have again and again confirmed the claims of scripture.
The third test of truth is found in the question, "Does it work in life?" The professor above who wanted to argue that you have to understand eastern thought from a both-and mind-set was shocked to reality by the Indian Apologist Ravi Zacharias who reminded him, "So your telling me that either I accept the both-and position or nothing at all?" To which the stunned professor said, "Well, the either or does seem to present itself doesn't it?" And Dr. Zacharias responded, "I've got news for you. Even in India we look both ways before crossing the street. It's either the bus or me."
Christianity is the one religion that fits the tests for truth. But knowing the truth is not enough. Knowing truth doesn't help me unless I apply it. Many people miss out on real help and freedom because the closest they ever come to spiritual truth is the realization that God exists, but they never apply that truth to their lives.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA, 30016. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org