The Necessity of Truth
“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” This quote is falsely attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. He never said these words. The true origin of the phrase is unclear, but what is clear is this: it is absolutely absurd.
In a post-modern, feelings-based society, truth is becoming increasingly more repulsive to those within the culture. That is, the very concept of truth carries with it a connotation of moral superiority, conceit, and exclusivity. Interestingly, these characteristics are necessary for one to claim to hold to an absolute truth. Perhaps this accounts for the reason it is looked down upon.
Truth is that which affirms reality for what it really is. In other words, truth always corresponds to reality. In a society which has rejected absolute truth, the concept of affirmational reality is also growing cold. Hence, we live in a culture in which one can have the body of a male but claim to be the opposite sex entirely. In fact, the very concept of sex is collapsing as well, with the rise of transgenderism, and now transhumanism. The concepts of gender and sex, once grounded in objective reality, now exist as thoughts within the minds of those by whom they are questioned.
Relativism has crept in, unnoticed, and now owns the field of truth claims, permitting its constituents to claim that no absolute truth exists at all. Rather, one can claim “his truth” or “her truth” as a means of moral correctness, rather than appealing to a higher moral authority in any matter. Therein lies the demolition of “the truth.”
Whether we recognize it or not, we live by truth claims every day. Without them, we cannot reason properly. Without truth, society will crumble.
Truth is the bedrock of reasoning, morality, ethics, and mere conversation. Without it, such things cannot exist, neither relatively nor absolutely. For instance, the very claim that “truth is relative" by nature, is an absolute truth claim. Therefore, it contradicts itself; relativism cannot even be supported by its own claims. Likewise, for one to claim “his truth” is to suggest that “his truth” is, in fact, “the truth.” However, this raises an issue for the proponent of the claim. Because if “his truth” is “the truth,” then “his truth” cannot exist on its own, being that “his truth” would have to be “the truth” for every other person alive, thus contradicting the very concept of “his truth.”
These logical contradictions permeate postmodern thought. The problem is that too many people are not equipped to be able to combat them with sound reason. As a result, we cower away and keep our beliefs to ourselves, in fear of breaking the unspoken commandment: “thou shalt be nice.” We as Christians retreat too soon, when we should be on the front lines of the war against truth. After all, the Christian worldview claims to hold to the absolute, objective truth about reality. It is the only worldview that can adequately answer the questions to which every worldview must provide an answer: where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going when we die? Who/what defines right and wrong?
Jesus himself did not claim to be a way to heaven, among other religions. He claimed to be the way, the truth, and the light (John 14:6). In order for any degree of morality to exist, there must be an absolute set of truths which serve as the foundation.
Returning to the quote we visited at the beginning of this article, to suggest that the truth of the Gospel can be lived out through actions alone is to discount everything Scripture says about needing to be ready to defend our beliefs. Here are a few examples of the emphasis which God’s Word places on truth:
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” –1 Peter 3:15
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” –2 Corinthians 10:5
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” –John 4:24
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” –2 Timothy 4:3-4
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” –Colossians 4:5-6
Needless to say, truth is not only lacking within the culture, it is lacking within the church. We have gotten too comfortable. We have compromised truth, and sold out for the sake of drawing crowds. (For a more detailed analysis on this phenomenon, read my book Bubblegum Gospel, now available for free here.) As a result, the world is starving for truth, and too many Christians haven’t the spiritual courage or dignity to stand up for what is true. We would rather ask the question “What Would Jesus Do?” as a means of suggesting that somehow being like Christ does not require making enemies. Jesus himself promised that this would happen, simply by holding fast to what is right.
I was in a Bible study group a number of years ago, during which we were brainstorming community outreach opportunities as a church. One member of the group suggested that, in doing so, “we don’t even have to mention Jesus.” Once our service within the world becomes merely that–service–we have lost sight of what it means to be a Christian.
Truth requires sacrifice. We are called to take up our cross daily in order to follow Christ. In doing so, we will have to say no to lies and yes to truth; even if it means being rejected by the world. Jesus, after all, was not crucified because of his miracles and ministry; he was crucified because of his truth claims.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:13-14
Salvation comes through the truth of the Gospel. We need Christ. It is time for an awakening within the Church. Let us be prepared to defend the truth, at all costs.