I’m working on an article for The Huffington Post right now and I’m reminded of something central to the Christian faith: Truth is a person. Here’s a little bit of what I’m thinking about.
Among evangelicals, as it is everywhere, the search for truth has always been much more about power and control. The truth question is always a power game. Only people who have not been fully transformed by the truth of the gospel still want to play that game, especially when the basic Christian conviction is that truth is a person, not a rational abstraction. The truth is not an idea you can bullet point. Christians are not called to believe in a rational account of the truth, we are called to believe in the truth as it has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Truth is a person.
The truth is not, by the way, the truth as elucidated in the Westminster Confession, The Thirty-nine Articles, The Baptist Faith and Message or any other doctrinal statement. Those documents, although helpful in some instances, are really about power and control. Evangelicals will never be able to come up with a rational account of truth (or a corresponding doctrinal statement), to which we would all subscribe. That we can never produce such a document has little to do with the fact that we don’t agree, and much more to do with the fact that God has precluded those sorts of things by sending us Jesus. The reason we cannot produce a rational account of the truth is because we were never meant to, because we have Jesus.
So couldn’t the claim that Jesus is the truth just be considered a power game as well? Not really.
The Christian claim is that Jesus is the truth and so all who live according to his lordship can themselves become true – true human beings. What keeps this from becoming a power game is the fact that those who follow in the way of Jesus are forced to do so nonviolently (Mt. 5:38-40). Christians are required to love our enemies (Mt. 5;43-45), and to not only refuse to grasp for power, but to relinquish power and control in order to follow in the way of Jesus (Phil. 2:5-11).
1 John 5
20And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
[It’s interesting that the writer asserts the goal is understanding, not simply knowledge. Truth is not construed as a concept, but a person, “him who is true.”]
1 John 3
18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20whenever our hearts condemn us; [truth here is connected to an action, a via, a way of being, v.18. And that as persons we can know we are from the truth and can be reassured before him who is truth.]