What is Truth?

Last month, I attended a human resource management (HRM) conference held at a beautiful resort facility overlooking the northern Atlantic Ocean.  The weather was clear and sunny on most days, but a bit cool due to it being the “off season.”  Admittedly, there was temptation to enjoy the great outdoors, but I did attend the sessions.

Similar to most other professional conferences, there were daily keynote speakers.  It was about midway through the week when the topic of diversity was addressed in the a.m. keynote session titled, “Give Voice to Your Truth.”  As indicated by the title, the presenter spoke on the central theme that we should each give voice to our personal truth.  She began the introduction with the question:

“What is truth?”

Attendees were asked to participate in the dialogue by texting responses from our cell phones, which almost immediately popped up on the large conference screens.  Most all of us, it seems, tried to be one of the first to get our meaning of truth on the big screen for all else to see.  A few definitions were acknowledged; the presenter then forwarded to the next slide to reveal her definition of truth, one excerpted and personally-adopted from Urban Dictionary.[1]

Truth-
Something which would probably upset a great many of people if it were known and made public.
Truthfully speaking, most people have no idea of what the truth actually is.
—Super Gerbil (as cited on urbandictionary.com, 2004)[2]

She then began opening up and revealing her truth, and, for the next 45 minutes, she elaborated on her truth at great depths—sharing thoughts, feelings, experiences, and encounters with others who were either curious or non-accepting of her truth.  Throughout the presentation, the presenter invited us to speak our truth as well.  I’ll admit, my attentiveness during her presentation waned every so often as I pondered the concept of truth and how it could or should be defined, and reflected on what ‘personal’ truth I had that needed voicing, if any at all.  I was also intrigued (unsure if that is the best word here) by her use of the Urban Dictionary rather than Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary[3] — my personal favorite and one used by literary artists (of which I am not).  And I even began to wonder what __________ (bizarre, interesting, absurd, revealing…) truth might be garnered if all of the Urban Dictionary definitions were used as either backdrop definitions (meanings) or as substitution for the actual words of Scripture.  I dispelled the curious thought.

Is truth relevant?  Can you and I create or actualize our own truth—and, if so, to what measure is that truth to be held, if any at all?  In our present political climate, and based on the presenter’s words, it would seem that any truth one abides by is a valid truth.  Yet, if we are honest with one another (no pun intended), we might all agree with the philosophical argument asserting that if we claim all truth is relevant, then we have nullified our own argument for relevancy on the basis of making absolute that which we argue to be relevant.

Posing further challenge for us are the several ways in which the world actionably views truth, referring to it as: (1) relativism—all truth is relative, (2) skepticism—the doubting of all truth, (3) postmodernism—affirming no particular truth, (4) pluralism—accepting all truth claims as equally valid, or (5) logical positivism—holding that all truth must be tautologies or empirically verifiable.[4]

Is truth an absolute?  The (biblical) answer is a resounding YES!  Note that the problem with qualifying the answer as “biblical” might suggest to some that it is but one truth—a biblical truth—one among many, yet that is not what is meant.  God’s Word in print is truth (Ps 119:60; Jn 17:17).  God’s Word in the flesh is truth (Jn 14:6; Eph 4:21).  God’s Word in counsel through the Holy Spirit is truth (Jn 16:13).  We may be taught God’s truth (Ps 86:11), and we are expected to live by His truth (2 Tim 2:15), and to worship Him in truth (Jn 4:24).  But woe to us if our thoughts should become futile and our hearts darkened toward God’s truth (Rom 1:21-22).

John McArthur (2016), pulling together a number of Bible verses on truth, summarily states, “Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God.  Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God.”[5]  


[1]  Urban Dictionary: Fularious Street Slang Defined is a book (available in print and Kindle format) compiled by Aaron Peckham, creator of urbandictionary.com.
Urbandictionary.com–bearing the slogan “Define Your World”–serves more than 1.5 million visitors each month. Perfect for those who want to pick up some new slang and those who want to translate it, Urban Dictionary is a gritty and witty look at our ever-changing language. (Amazon, n.d.)
Urban dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Urban-Dictionary-Fularious-Street-Defined/dp/0740751433?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

[2] Super Gerbil (Ed.). (2014). Truth. Retrieved June 2, 2016, from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=truth

[3] Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘truth’ as:
: the real facts about something : the things that are true
: the quality or state of being true
: a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true
Truth. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. Retrieved June 2, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/truth

[4] Got Questions Ministries. (2015). Question: “What is truth?” Challenges to truth. Retrieved from               http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-truth.html (para. 3)

[5] McArthur, J. (2009, August 4). What is truth? Retrieved from Grace to You:
http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A379/what-is-truth

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