The Truth about Truth

“An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies…..Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy…The Lord detests lying lips but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:17-22).

About a million years ago, I was a journalism minor in my undergraduate studies. I worked on newspaper staffs in both high school and college. I was taught how to find a newsworthy story, conduct interviews, do the background research, and objectively report that story. The most important factor in news-reporting was truth – find and record the truthful facts. Check your facts; then check them again. Do not under any circumstances put into print any known falsehood or any ambiguous statements that could not be proven as facts. A news reporter was a “bloodhound,” sniffing out every angle, every detail and all the aspects of a story. Good journalism did not suppose, guess or assume anything.

There was an old TV show where a police detective interviewed people as witnesses to a crime. Sometimes the witnesses would go on and on with “maybes” and “if onlys” and their own evaluations of the crime. But, the detective would politely say, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

I think it is different today.

So, here is a disclaimer: not all journalists are selfish and incompetent. There are some talented and competent journalists in the field. But today, most journalism is a race to see who can get the most provocative story in the least amount of time. The theory is that readers want the news “hot off the press,” ASAP, even if there is no time to check the facts and research the details. What matters is that you be the first to “break the story.” If you get the story to the readers first, then more readers will use your media format, and that will produce more advertising – oh, and that means more money for the media company.  It really is about the bottom line. Media outlets seek the power and prestige before the truth.

I heard that among all the present-day media outlets – all the TV programs, newspapers, internet sites and social media – there are about 500 new stories per day. Obviously, no one can read and digest all that information, so most people opt for a quick review of headlines that appear on the internet. Truth is abbreviated and abridged for the sake of convenience. In addition, many readers just love to voice their own (bias) opinions and perspectives on social media using only a few words; they are not qualified news reporters and should not be regarded as so. With the advent of the internet, readers get the whole story in less than 30 words and in less than 30 minutes….or do they, really?

Today, the media does not give us “just the facts;” they interpret the news for us. Truth can be so boring; so, just a little spice can really sell a story. The old saying is, “if it bleeds, it leads.” We are told what they want us to hear. They write what they want us to see. They select the words and the pictures to use, disregarding any kind of objectivity. We hear/see another person’s interpretation of reality, which often lacks all the information; it can be filled with misinformation, misinterpretations, false images and biased opinions. As a result, we need to be really careful about what we read, and see and hear and think; we need to carefully “consider the source.”

In the quagmire of information, how can we be sure that what we are hearing/reading is the truth?

The search for truth has been significant to people perhaps since the beginning of time. Scholars in numerous fields use the word “epistemology” to mean a search of knowledge and truth (or, “the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge, especially with reference to its limits and validity,” my emphasis). The best place to begin a search for truth is in the Bible. As a Bible reader, interpreter and teacher, it is my goal to know and pass on the truth found in his Word. Biblical truth far surpasses any conjecture, opinions, half-lies and intentional deceptions which our culture tries to force upon us. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33). If we do that – if we pursue his truth, his kingdom and his righteousness first — it will give us a new perspective on the world and on the noise around us. Believing Christians should be changing culture with God’s truth, not the other way around.

In fact, the Bible tells us that, quite simply, God is truth. He sent his Son, Jesus, to be the revelation of his truth. The Gospel of John answers the question about the nature of truth:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17). “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Clearly, Jesus said “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31). The Roman governor, Pilate, asked Jesus the age-old question: “what is truth?” It was a rhetorical, dismissive question, because Pilate was actually talking to the “the truth” and he could not believe. Jesus told Pilate that “everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (Jn 18:37-38).

Furthermore, John also assured his readers that it is the Holy Spirit who is the “Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:17; 15:26: 16:13). True believers have the truth, the Holy Spirit, within them, and it is he who “will guide you into all truth” (Jn 16:13). In our confusing, mixed-up world, the answer is clear: we are never alone in our search for the truth, because if we know God, through Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, we know truth.

Do not seek truth; seek God, and you will know the truth.

Author: Judy

Christian educator, writer, specializing in the New Testament

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