There are many idols prowling around our consciousness’ these days, and an even easier one to spot than belief is the truth. I know this sounds extreme and I will undoubtably get lampooned by some friends on this one, but the truth is not Jesus.
But wait, Jesus said that he was the truth (Jn. 14).
He did indeed. But here is the problem with what I’ve just said:
In formal logic, there is a fallacy called “Affirming the Consequent.” Affirming the Consequent means that because A causes B, and B is happening, therefore A must also be happening. The standard example given is “If it’s raining, the streets will be wet; the streets are wet, therefore it’s raining.” This is a fallacy because there are many reasons for the street to be wet. It may have been raining earlier and the streets have not dried yet. A fire hydrant may have burst. Some kid could be playing with the garden hose. It might not be raining.
If we think about Jesus’ words in Jn. 14 in this way, we must realize this: Jesus is the truth, but the truth is not Jesus. All truth is not actually God’s truth.
Truth, as we conceive of it, is not a Christian concept, because Christianity doesn’t trade in concepts. Ever since the Enlightenment unshackled truth from its “religious” moorings it has been floating around the ether like a specter waiting to be returned. The problem with saying that all truth is God’s truth is that there are many things that are true that are not of God. The holocaust is true, but was evil, through and through. It is true that many people do unspeakable things in the name of God, but that too is utterly evil. Now, unless we are prepared to say that evil is God, we need to rethink our claims about truth.
But this is only half of the issue. If we make Jesus into the truth then we have turned him into a concept, not a person. The second person, actually. Anyway, this leads us to proceed like this: from truth -> Jesus. Pursue the truth, and you will find Jesus. Ever heard anyone say that? I have. But starting there assumes a real entity of truth that exists beyond the person of Jesus. It takes truth as the starting point. But truth isn’t the starting point, because it exists in our minds as something other than Jesus. We have an idea called “truth” that we defend as if it were God because we have affirmed the consequent of Jesus’ claim to be the truth. He is that, but there are other things that are true besides him, nevermind our inability to distinguish truth from fiction!
The problem is that we confuse our own version of conceptual truth with the truth that stood before Pilate as he asked what truth was. Philosophy actually affirms Jesus’ claim in a weird way, in that if I get far enough into it what I think of as truth turns out only to be my own imagination. But we’ve made what we think truth to be into a godlike entity that needs to be defended in order for Jesus to be the truth. But it doesn’t, because your imagination is not Jesus. Jesus’ truth is not your version of it.
P.S. I am on vacation and will be taking a short break from the blogging world. I will return with more thoughts and provocations April 15th. Until then, seek Jesus, not what you think the truth is.