Are you a lover of the truth? Or philosophically, can you know the truth? Truth has taken a lot of abuse, especially over the last century and a half. Beginning with Hegel’s musings and progressing through the relativism and tolerance of our age, truth is under fire.
Scientific methodology has progressed to a sophistication that renders man’s understanding truly astounding. In fact, man’s capability has such momentum—knowledge doubles every year...and IBM says knowledge will soon double every twelve hours—that truth derived via scientific methodology seems inevitable, and therefore dependable given enough time.
And that begs the question: What of truth can be known, and is there any such thing as absolute truth, that is, truth without doubt or question? Interject theology, and the question becomes: Can the absolute truth of God be known?
These are fair questions, and ones we should ponder. But asking the right question is only the beginning. Analyzing the question correctly is also essential, and this is where many stumble.
It will not consistently work to apply scientific methodology in our quest to determine the truth—or not—of God. To believe otherwise is an error in logic. God will not allow Himself to be figured out by man’s intellect. The Bible speaks of it this way: “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rm. 1:22).
Let’s be clear about our definitions. Science produces hypotheses, which in time progress to theories, and if proven predictable become laws. So, you have the laws of gravity and thermodynamics, and you have the theory of evolution, the theory of strings within quantum theory, and then you have the study of fields like archeology, medicine, and zoology.
But I asked at the beginning of my letter, “Are you a lover of the truth?” If you think about it, it would seem odd to ask, “Are you a lover of scientific methodology?” While there may be those who genuinely love methodologies, you generally appreciate or value a method and you love a person.
And that is precisely my point: Truth is a person, not a system, not facts or figures; not tenets, not methods, not results, and not the science of anything, including the science of religious study and methodology. Truth is an individual who was God but took on the form of a man. And who even though he was God, did not cling to that identity but humbled Himself to become one of us and thus render for us an accurate portrait of God’s true character (ref. Jn. 1, Phil. 2).
The person of Jesus Christ was not a law, a theory, or a hypothesis. He was truth incarnate.
Therefore, truth is not discerned in a test tube or a methodology such that it can be documented and repeated. Truth must be known in the heart through life in the same way marriage is known in the heart through living life together. Truth is not necessarily an experiment with predictable outcomes. By definition, truth is the heart of God continually demonstrating His determination to do what is right and best for those whom He loves.
I am a unique individual, as you are. God loves me differently in my uniqueness than He loves you in yours, but He loves us both absolutely and with unflinching love. This is the truth, the absolute truth applied.
In the same way you can cover your eyes and claim the sun did not rise, you can willfully blind yourself to the truth of Jesus Christ and claim He was other than what He claimed. However, this doesn’t change the fact of the sun rising nor the truth of Jesus Christ.
Jesus promised us an assistant to help us understand truth, that is, help us understand Him. He said, “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (Jn. 16:13a).
Here is a fact, i.e. a law, that goes hand-in-hand with truth: Enmeshed in the fabric of our spiritual DNA is the Spirit that Jesus promised and commissioned with one, sole task: to tell us each and every one about the infinite scope of the Truth, Jesus Christ.
Notice the passage says, “He will guide you.” In other words, He will instruct, tutor, nurture, form, illuminate, and direct us in knowing the Truth. It is truth anchored in fact, or conversely, a law that points to truth.
As I consider these things, I am determined to pay attention to the teaching of the Spirit. How about you? After all, methodology is only as good as the mind behind it. Truth is as reliable as the person’s character who is synonymous with truth.
In the case of Christ, this truth is absolute.
The passage above from John goes ahead to say that the Spirit of truth will not speak a word on His own initiative, and that is a great standard for us as well. To live in utter, unreserved, and unblushing dependence upon Christ, who is the truth, means that in so doing I accurately represent Him to all who observe.
Herein is the method of our faith and relationship with Jesus—and herein is the similarity between the scientific method and Christianity. To be convinced of either, observation and consistency is key.