What is “Truth”? p1 [v120]

FEBRUARY 2009

WHAT IS TRUTH?
Last month I talked about the discussion my daughter, Arielle, and I had about trusting “feelings,” and how “trustworthy” or “true” they were.

It just so happened (not previously known to me) that a 12-week class was starting the first week of January called, “The Truth Project”—so, I’ve been attending (and, oh oh,…I’ve been taking ‘notes’). So, I thought I would share with you what I get out of the course in the next few months.

To give you an idea of what the course will be addressing, here’s a list of the topics:

– Veritology: What is Truth?
– Philosophy and Ethics: Says Who?
– Anthropology: Who is Man?
– Theology: Who is God?
– Science: What is True?
– History: Whose Story?
– Sociology: The Divine Imprint
– Unio Mystica: Am I Alone?
– The State: Whose Law?
– The American Experiment: Stepping Stones
– Labor: Created to Create
– Community and Involvement: God Cares, do I?

At the time of this writing, we have had the first four classes—the first being sort of an overview and setting the ‘foundations’ for the class.

Those of you who are very astute recognized a term used in the title of the first topic, “Veritology,” does not exist in “Websters.” The reason for this is simple—the leader, Dr. Del Tackett, made it up. He said he was in need of a word for “the study of truth” or “the truth about truth.”

Obviously, the suffix “ology” was a prime candidate, which means “the study of.” It is derived from the Greek word “logos,” which means “word.” When combined with other words, such as “bio,” meaning “life,” we get the word “biology” which means the “study of living things.” When it is combined with “theos,” the Greek word for “god,” we get “theology,” or the “study of God.” I’m sure you are familiar with a bunch of them: psychology, geology, sociology, anthropology—on and on it goes.

So, Dr. Tackett decided he would do some combining as well. He took the Latin term for truth, “veritas,” and combined it with the derivation of the Greek suffix, “logos,” and the merger resulted in “Veritology,” the “study of truth.” (I think this is a great word—and if there is anything our culture needs, it’s a good ‘dose’ of sound “veritology.” Try using it in your everyday conversations, and see what kind of reaction you get).

SESSION #1
Dr. Tackett started off by mentioning that he believed that the question, “WHAT IS TRUTH,” might well be the MOST IMPORTANT question the we and ‘culture’ must answer.

Websters (in the original, 1828 version) defines truth as, “conformity to fact and reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be; Scriptural prophecies.”

Del presented a graphic that resembled a compass, with “Truth” in the “North” position, “Man” in the “West” position, “God” in the “East” position, and “Social Order” in the “South” position. At other positions around the compass are, Science, Philosophy, Ethics, Church, God and Man, Community, Family, State, Law, Arts and Media, Labor, and History—which Del will touch on during the course of the class.

He also presented a graphic resembling a Greek temple, with ‘foundational’ steps, columns, and the roof. The steps are named, Veritology, Anthropology, and Theology. The columns that ‘support’ the roof are named, Philosophy, Science, History, and Ethics. The roof consists primarily of Sociology (that is comprised of Law, Politics, Ecomonic, Art, Media, Music, and Literature), that ‘supports’ the Church, Family, God and Man, State, Labor, and Community.

[ Note: You can see these, and other graphics associated with the class at this link:
http://www.thetruthproject.org/downloads/downloads.cfm#graphics ].

Del then presented his concept of “The Cosmic Battle”—“Truth” (reality) opposed to “Lies” (illusion)—and ‘tied’ it to the “Battle of Worldviews” within our culture. Comparing the ‘sides’ of a chart, he noted that on the “Truth” side there is “Unity, whereas on the “Lies” side there is division.” Truth imbibes “Diversity,” whereas Lies encourages “Unification.” Truth “delegates” and Lies install “Tyranny.” Truth encourages “Freedom,” whereas Lies is ultimately “Bondage.”

Del then show a video clip of the author R. C. Sproul, and he defined truth as, “that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God, because God’s perception of reality is never distorted—it’s a perfect perception of reality.”

Author Ravi Zacharias then referred to a story in the Bible when Pontius Pilate, the then ‘mayor’ of the city of Jerusalem, was trying to determine if he should allow the ‘will’ of the people to have Jesus crucified. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Ravi then notes that, as the Bible portends that Jesus is God, “Pilate walked away from the greatest authority, on the greatest question, and committed the greatest crime at that time.”

Then ‘ordinary’ people were asked the question, “What is truth.” After himing and hawing around a bit trying to ‘wrap’ their brain around the concept, a few tried to enunciate a definition. “The lack of guilt”; “What really happened”; “Honesty”; and “Facts that you can verify.”

R.C. Sproul then concluded by saying we humans “exchange the truth of God for a lie, in order to serve the creature rather than the creator.”

Author Os Guinness then said that truth is “fundamentally who God ‘is’…He is the truth, He is the fountainhead of all truth—He is the reference point to determine what’s true and what’s not true.

Okay, so at least in these people’s opinion, “God” is the ‘origin’ of truth. Del then expanded that by going back to the concept of the “battle of worldviews,” and said that humans have a natural ‘disposition’ to oppose the God of Heaven’s truth, and rely on the lies of the ‘god’ of this world (most of the time referred to as “Satan” or the “devil”). This is what Del previously referred to as the “Cosmic Battle.”

Dr. Tackett then finished the first session with a question: “Do you really believe, that what you believe is really real?” (Consider that for a while).

SESSION #2
In the second session, Dr. Tackett then discussed that there is a “formal and vital connection between our ideas about the nature of the world (philosophy), and our understanding of right and wrong behavior (ethics).

Philosophy, according to Dr. R. C. Sproul, is “a scientific quest to discover ultimate reality.” In this connection, it’s worth noting that the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary included the following affirmation: “true religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle” ( S. S. Smith). Significantly, Webster’s original definition of the word also asserted that philosophy aims “to enlarge our understanding of God.” (God, of course, has been edited out of subsequent editions of the dictionary). This is consistent with the perspective of contemporary culture (naturalism), which has been taken captive by the unfounded ‘assumption’ that “the cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever will be” (Carl Sagan). Another way to say this is that current thought pictures reality as a closed box—a “cosmic cube”— in which there is no room for anything that cannot be sensually or materially perceived. The problem is that with the lid of the box closed, and God excluded, philosophy is deprived of a universal reference point and is thus crippled in its “scientific quest for ultimate reality.” As a result, it cannot answer the most basic questions about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behavior—it’s hollow and deceptive.

Dr. Tackett persuasively argued that even the most outspoken adherents of “cosmic cube” thinking and relativistic ethics thinkers (“postmodernism”)—like Carl Sagan and William Provine—cannot possibly ‘live’ by their own ‘reductionist’ and materialistic principles. [Just ask one of these kind of people that you would like to look at their watch—then just put it in your pocket. 99.99% of the time they will ask for it back, because they ‘know’ that you did something ‘wrong’. But just answer that with “it’s my belief that what I did wasn’t ‘wrong’—it’s my “truth,” and “I think it’s just fine to take other people’s things.” (Get ready to run now) ]. Relativism just doesn’t ‘work’ in real life!

Even the ‘relativists’ don’t like a ‘cold’ universe. All us humans want something beyond the physical. When man rejects the true God, he generally will replace Him with something tangible, but will imbue that physical thing with spiritual characteristics. Here is where we get sun-gods and moon-gods, Nile gods and ‘Baals’. In our day, we get witches, ghosts, pantheism, The Force be with you, and all sorts of ‘spirit-filled’ elements. Our movies and TV shows are filled with spirit-filled elements. It creeps under the door, it invades your body, it rises from the pond, or it possesses the little girl next door and makes her head spin around. Many religions end up with a physical god, no matter how big or powerful.

We shouldn’t be surprised by all of this. It is not a movement that we should embrace simply because people are “spiritual”. Satan and the demons are spiritual. Much of the evil that we deal with is “spiritual”. What is missing in all of this is the clear acknowledgment and acquiescence to the transcendent creator God who has revealed Himself to us through His creation and His Word (the Bible). That kind of a God is unacceptable to spiritual naturalists though, because that kind of a God represents a holiness that restricts their drive to do what they want to do.

This comes full circle back to our ‘worldview’, and how it affects us personally—since it is the set of individual truth claims that one has embraced so deeply that one believes they reflect what is real, and therefore, they drive what one thinks, how one acts, and how one feels. (Just take a look at the news for the day and consider the ‘consequences’ of the relativistic ‘worldview’ accepted by most in the world today).

SESSION #3
Having established the importance of determining whether the cosmos is to be viewed as an “open” or a “closed box,” Dr. Tackett now moves on to examine another defining aspect of any comprehensive worldview: its basic assumptions about ‘mankind’. Here again we discover a fundamental conflict between Christianity and the perspective of contemporary culture. The Bible teaches that man consists of both body and spirit and is created in the image of God; our culture assumes that he is purely material, the product of mindless, purposeless forces. The Bible says that man has rebelled against God and fallen from his original state of innocence; contemporary thought maintains that he is “basically good.” The Bible affirms man’s need for divine grace, redemption, and regeneration; popular thinking asserts that “self-actualization” (Arielle, read “feelings”) is the key to happiness and fulfillment.

Christianity represents evil as the product of the “Cosmic Battle” that rages ‘within’ man—the conflict between humanity as it was ‘meant’ to be and what it has ‘actually become’ as a result of sin. Godless philosophy and psychology, on the other hand, can suggest only one possible solution to the problem of evil in the world: man must throw off the restraints of superimposed social conventions and institutions (i.e., any kind of moral standard) and pursue “self fulfillment” to the fullest possible extent. This is what Dr. Tackett calls “the pernicious lie.”

Some people may have difficulty accepting the idea that “self-fulfillment” and the call to “follow your heart” are inconsistent with a Christian worldview. Others may object to Dr. Tackett’s assertion that a great deal of the radical social and political activism we see in the world today is driven primarily by secular man’s sinful desire to throw off the shackles of “God’s social design.” All will find it stimulating and profitable to wrestle with the question he poses: WHY do non-believers and evolutionists find evil so troubling?

So, why is there evil in the world? (Wow, that will get you thinking for a while—and possibly, you won’t come up with an answer you really like).

Dr. Tackett proposes that there ate three things to look at when considering the question of evil—man’s “essence”; man’s “moral state”; and man’s “need.”

This is also not a new concept. Back in 1858, Charles Haddon Spurgeon said this: “You cannot slander human nature: it is worse than words can paint it.”

The Bible also has a bit to say about the human ‘condition’: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it [Romans 7:24-25].

Even though the “Cosmic Battle” ‘rages’ within all of us—we are not ‘absolved’ for the ‘responsibility’ of its consequences.

To try to determine a solution, we need to investigate who man really is. If you believe the popular view today (naturalistic/evolutionary)—the man is but a material beast, having nothing beyond the evolutionary cosmic particles—then does man have a ‘purpose’ beyond himself? Can he have any ‘meaning’ in life?

So, let’s consider what has been said about man in this regard. The former head of the “Sierra Club,” David Brower, said, “While the death of young men in war is unfortunate, it is no more serious than touching of the mountains and wilderness areas by mankind.” The Finnish Green Party head, Pentti Likola, goes so far as to say the he has “more sympathy for the threatened insect species than the children dying of hunger in Africa.” There are many more examples—some even more ‘drastic’ (the Holocaust comes to my mind as a prominent example of this).

Moving along, Dr. Tackett brought up the subject of man’s ‘needs’, and a person you’ve most likely hear of—Abraham Maslow, and his “Heirarchy of Needs” pyramid. It shows that man’s greatest ‘level of attainment’ in this life is “self actualization”: (following/doing what your inner self desires). Problem is, that’s exactly what people like Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hilter were saying to ‘justify’ their actions.

Ordinary people were then asked how they would define evil and they said: “Doing something intentionally bad and feeling good about it”; “Knowing right from wrong and choosing to do wrong”; “Genecide”; and “Natural to our nature.”

Del then showed a video with clips showing a serial killer, a sniper, the Madrid train bombings, the Rwanda genocide, and the Jeffery Dahmer trial—most would say these depicted the ‘depravity’ of man.

Author and psychiatrist, Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, condensed the concept of evil when he told the story of one of his patients. His patient told him that he was being his “true self” when he killed his wife, because he was very concerned what he would have done if he hadn’t killed his wife—something “really terrible would have happened to him.” The mere death of his wife was not very important by comparison with what would have happen to him had he not killed his wife!

Dr. Dalrymple goes on to say that he tells his patients that they don’t need to “find themselves,” they need to loose themselves—something that ‘transcends’ themselves in order to make their lives meaningful—and that’s impossible if you constantly referring to yourself as the ‘be all and end all’ of your existence.

Dr. Dalrymple ended his comments by mentioning what Sir Frances Bacon said: “It’s a poor center of a man’s life: himself.”

But still, the greater culture still believes that man is generally “good”—so then, why is there ‘evil’ in the world? Well, the Bible talked about this in a few places. “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator [Colossians 3:5-10].

This seems to be saying that our ‘inner desires’ are usually bad, and we need to ‘suppress’ them to ‘attain the highest level’ of humanness.

So, let me leave you with a few questions to ponder about all this:

– Why does evil ‘bother’ you?
– Why do you ‘feel bad’ about evil?
– Isn’t evil, as the culture now describes it, simply a ‘natural outworking’ of the evolutionary process?

SESSION #4
This session will try to answer the question, “Who is God?”—and we had only two hours to do it! Though there is probably no assignment more daunting, no task more demanding, or no challenge more overwhelming, than that of seeking to understand the being, nature, character, and attributes of the eternal Creator, who Del asserts, is Himself the ultimate source of all truth.

So impossibly huge is this endeavor that we could not hope to tackle it at all except for the fact that He has graciously ‘revealed’ Himself to us in His Word (the Bible). Apart from this ‘revelation’, mankind tends to grope and struggle in the ‘darkness’ to piece together even the most flawed and rudimentary concept of God—who Del notes that is the absolute central meaning of human life (and we’re going to ‘understand’ this in 2 hours?!).

In line with this thought, author R. C. Sproul asserts that ours is an era in which the knowledge of God has been ‘eclipsed’—not completely destroyed, but ‘obscured’ and ‘shadowed’ by lies and misconceptions. Given this situation, it is essential that we establish two main points: 1) that
God exists; and 2) that the Bible, the vehicle of His self-revelation, is utterly reliable. Following Sproul’s lead, Dr. Tackett uses a significant portion of this session to respond to attacks that have been leveled against God’s Word over the course of history (another aspect of the “Cosmic
Battle”). He answers the objections of Voltaire, Robert Ingersoll, and liberal theologians such as Julius Wellhausen and the members of the “Jesus Seminar.” He also illustrates the Bible’s historical accuracy by helping us resolve an apparent scriptural discrepancy concerning the dates of King Jehoram’s reign [2 Kings 8:18 and 2 Kings 1:17].

But the heart of this episode’s message hits much closer to home. For in the end, Dr. Tackett makes it clear that we cannot truly know ourselves until we have begun to know God in the fullness and richness of His multifaceted nature and character—not only as the God of mercy and grace, but also as the God who is a consuming fire, “jealous” for the purity of the covenant relationship with His ‘creatures’. When this knowledge dawns upon us, we can expect two things to happen. First, the revelation of God’s character will, like a mirror, reveal things to us about ourselves, so that we, along with the prophet Isaiah, are compelled to cry, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” [Isaiah 6:5]. But then secondly, as God raises us out of our despair and shows us who we are and who we can be ‘in’ Him, we will be granted the gift of a ‘new name’—a whole new concept of our being, our identity, and our purpose in life ‘with’ God. Once again, the fruit of this experience will be personal transformation.

Del’s conclusion is that God’s Word can be trusted, that it will last forever, and that is “living and active” for all of us now to ‘profit’ from.

As I ending last month’s ‘thoughts’, I would like to suggest that there is only one ‘source’ of truth—God, our “Maker,” the One we just celebrated a few days ago that came to this earth as a baby in a manger. He alone determines absolute truth. His truth is ‘objective’ because He exists outside of ourselves, is constant because He is eternal, and is absolute because He is the ‘originator’ of it.

You see, we generally think of truth as an ‘abstraction’—existing as a ‘principle’ or quality. But the truth is not merely an abstract idea—it is a Person—that of Jesus Christ. The principle of truth cannot be separated from the Person that embodies it—and a ‘relationship’ with Jesus is the ‘integrating factor’ that makes it possible not only to understand “truth,” but to apply it to your life, relationships, and issues of morality and ethics.

A person that has ‘trusted’ Jesus not only has been acquainted with truth, but has Truth ‘living’ inside them! “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” [Romans 8:9-11].

If you have not yet ‘trusted’ Christ in your life, let me encourage you to do so—it will be the best ‘feeling’ you can ever have, since it is based on THE “TRUTH.”

[Excerpts from: Dr. Del Tackett; The Truth Project]

If you would like to investigate further “The Truth Project,” visit the following link:
http://www.thetruthproject.org/

Blessings,
Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v120) for FEBRUARY 2009
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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‘TRUTH’ QUOTES
The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear. [Herbert Agar]

Not being known doesn’t stop the truth from being true. [Richard Bach]

What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer. [Francis Bacon]

You never find yourself until you face the truth. [Pearl Bailey]

Falsehood is cowardice, the truth courage. [Hosea Ballou]

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand. [Josh Billings]

Truth never penetrates an unwilling mind. [J. L. Borges]

Truth, though it has many disadvantages, is at least changeless. You can always find it where you left it. [Phyllis Bottome]

Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction; for we have made fiction to suit ourselves. [G. K. Chesterton]

The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is. [Winston Churchill]

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please—you can never have both. [Ralph Waldo Emerson]

God is, even though the whole world deny him. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained. [Mohandas Gandhi]

Wisdom is found only in truth. [Johann Wolfgang von Goethe]

To attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood. It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing the Darkness. It cannot be. [Frank Herbert]

Truth consists of having the same idea about something that God has. [Joseph Joubert]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
[Jesus, the Christ]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“What is truth, Pilate asked…” [John 18:38]. (Jesus had said to Pilate just before this: “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”)

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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