I recently attended a Christian discussion where the topic was truth, or maybe it was Truth. The opening question was, “What is truth?”
Over the course of an hour, several other questions rolled out. Is there more than one truth? Is Jesus indeed the truth? Is he the only truth? Can my truth be different than your truth?
But it all settled into “Truth is what can be proved, so what can we prove?”
I left the session wondering how many things I can clearly claim and substantiate as truth. This was most disconcerting and has caused me to extensively wrestle with my beliefs.
I blame my consternation in this regard on the Enlightenment. You remember the Enlightenment (well surely you didn’t live then so you don’t remember it, but you know what it brought – the Age of Reason). The Enlightenment/Age of Reason led mankind to believe we can figure everything out and if we can’t, we mustn’t rely on whatever “it” is.
Age of Reason thinking results in truth by proof. Can you prove it in the lab? I can prove that if you combine Chloride and Sodium appropriately you get salt. Can you prove it with the math tables? Yes ma’am, 2×2 is 4 and 4×4 is 16. Can you prove it in a court of law? Your honor, the evidence leaves no option other than a verdict of guilty (or not guilty dependent upon which table you occupy).
Then it hit me. It’s as much about trust as it is about truth. I have poured over the Bible and I am convinced the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God. Some very intelligent friends of mine have also devoted hours to pouring over the Bible and they reach a different conclusion. Some of them accept the Old Testament and reject the New; some accept the New and believe the Old is no longer relevant; others reject the whole book. At some point, truth becomes a matter of trust. Truth then, is more than what can be empirically proven.
My upbringing and training call me to employ the tests of the Wesley Quadrilateral in these matters– Does it stand up to scripture, experience, tradition and reason?
By those measuring sticks: Is the Bible the inspired Word of God? Yes. Is there one true God, or multiple gods? One true God. Is he the creator of the universe or was there another at work? He is the one and only creator. Is Jesus God made flesh, fully human and fully divine? Unequivocally.
Now, let’s return to the Age of Reason tests. Can I prove any of the above in the lab? No. Can I prove any of it with the math tables? Certainly not. Can I prove it in a court of law? It depends on the evidence allowed and the level of proof required, but likely I can’t.
Start with what evidence is allowed. Can I prove my faith and beliefs as stated above on the basis of physical evidence alone? No. Can I prove them with eye-witness testimony? Probably not. Can I present sufficient circumstantial evidence? It depends how recalcitrant you are in accepting my experiences.
Burden of proof – Can I prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt? No. I have yet to prove my faith to myself at that level. I leave open the possibility that my assessments are inaccurate. If I have 100% confidence that my faith and beliefs are entirely accurate, I have assured one of two outcomes. Either God is quantifiable and can be fully defined (my God is much too big for that), or I have made myself God, because only the God who created the universe can be that all-knowing. I assure you, both of those outcomes are flawed beyond measure.
The foregoing would indicate that I can’t prove faith “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but the evidence is sufficient for a decision based on the preponderance (weight) of the evidence. For me, the evidence is overwhelming. Clearly it is not for others.
Jesus is as he said – he is the Truth.
Which brings me to yet another question – Where do you place your trust?
I put my trust in the Bible. I put my trust in God, one God, the creator of the universe. I put my trust in Jesus.
I have all the evidence I need.
How about you?
I’m willing to bet my life and my eternity on it,