The Quest For Truth
The difficulty in recognizing truth from fiction starts right after birth. From my earliest days, I recall being constantly bombarded with falsehoods. When I was age five, none of my peers questioned the popular belief that some fat guy in a red suit was sneaking into houses annually to deliver name-brand toys made by his worker elves.
I exposed this giant Santa conspiracy when I realized it was impossible for one man to visit all those locations in one single night. I remember encountering some true believers in Old Saint Nick up until the time I reached the higher grades of elementary school.
When I reached the age at which I knew people were telling me things that were full of contradictions, I began my quest for truth. It has not been an easy search. I've gotten off track a number of times, but the Word of God and determination have always quickly led me back to the straight-and-narrow path.
Truth is not something you can hold in your hands. Its existence is based on a process of eliminating every other possibility. In the grand summation of all things, truth will outlast and outweigh all other explanations of reality.
Truth becomes lost or hidden when people fail to diligently seek after it. When the Roman governor, Pilate, was judging Jesus, he asked, "What is truth?" Of course, he said this not knowing the Man of Truth was standing right before him.
In this article, it's not possible for me to tell you what is truth and what is not. You folks would be foolhardy to just blindly trust the words of some guy you located on the internet. My plan is to show some methods you can use to find truth for yourself.
A Strong Conviction Doesn't Make Something True
People have a natural tendency to assume that if you believe in something strongly enough it will become reality. No matter how dedicated people are to an idea, their positive confessions do not produce truth.
In the past decade, many radical terrorists have believed in their twisted ideologies so resolutely that they have been willing to die for their causes. I'm sure the hijackers who crashed the three jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were fully convinced that killing all those people was a supremely justified act that had the blessings of some divine being.
I realize the world has lost much of its grasp on morality, but I don't think we've fallen far enough from grace for the average person not to understand that these men were greatly mistaken in their actions. I'm sure the terrorists were quite shocked when they realized they were not in Heaven.
I'm constantly receiving email messages from folks who hold to some rather strange doctrines. In most cases, I can tell right away that their beliefs directly conflict with the Word of God. But nonetheless, they firmly believe that they are right. Sadly, most don't even bother to see whether the Bible agrees with them. It is simply the strength of their own human will that makes them correct.
You simply can't use faith and conviction to make something true. Even a person of great doubt can still be correct. The power of positive thinking is powerless in the real world of hard facts.
In many faith healing circles, many erroneous teachings tell people it's a sin to have a negative thought about your state of health. They're instructed to say goofy things like, "I don't have cancer"; "I'm not sick"; or "I don't have a bad back."
If you have a terminal illness, saying you don't have it isn't going to make it go away. God does not wait until someone is in the perfect state of denial before he heals that person. Until the Lord sees fit to answer your prayers for healing, it's dishonesty to claim a state of health you don't have.
Everyone has the right to have mangled logic. I'm just not sure that was their original intent.
Everything Has An Explanation
I got out of the debate business long ago. I used to argue with people for hours over some major issues, but after years of experience, I've learned it's impossible to corner someone who doesn't wish to be cornered. There is always a counter point to every point, and a counter, counter point to every counter point.
Pride is a huge obstacle to finding the truth by debating. One person has to be willing to admit he's wrong, and it's very unlikely this will happen. And just because someone acquiesces and admits he is wrong, the opposing point isn't necessarily the truth. I try to respond to emails that challenge the views I present on my site, but I rarely engage in a lengthy, back-and-forth discussion with people who are clearly in some other camp.
Any type of lie can be defended to some measure. Most everyone believes the Earth is round. Try putting yourself in the mindset of the members of the Flat Earth Society. Sure, we have pictures of the Earth from space, but any Hollywood graphic artist could dream up similar photos. As for those live images of men walking on the moon... hmmm, those rocks in the background do look suspiciously like foam rubber.
Because everyone you encounter has the potential to be a false witness, you should never completely let down your guard. Computers have firewalls that constantly check for viruses; we need to always have the latest version of common sense loaded in our minds.
Everything does have a potential explanation, but not every explanation makes sense. Some people need to know when to give it a rest. When you've become the only witness to truth, you've then gone too far. I like the slogan, "Don't put a question mark where God puts a period."
I've always been amazed that the common poisons we use to control rodents are made of 99.995 percent inert ingredients. When you open up a box of Victor Rat/Mouse Bait, only 5 thousandths of a percent of the content is the actual poison that kills the little rascals--the rest is mostly grain. I guess if the mixture were 90 percent grain with 10 percent poison, the vermin wouldn't eat the stuff because it would taste repulsive.
The mixture of lies with truth often works the same way as rat poison. You only need an extremely small amount of falsehood to pollute any given belief, and by using a small dosage, the devil can make lies very palatable.
Adultery presents a very good example of the use of this type of subtle poison. Someone cheating on his wife could possibly detail a long list of reasons to support his affair. He may find the adulterous relationship has several positive benefits: It may give him happiness, companionship, or understanding, but every time he and his lover make their secret rendezvous, the toxin, sin, is also present.
Rodents lack the ability to realize they're eating something that's slowly killing them. In most cases, humans are fully aware they're consuming something that is poisonous. The lack of immediate negative consequences creates a false impression that the poison is manageable.
In John 17, Jesus talked about being in the world but not of the world. Even though we live our lives in this sinful world, we need to constantly be aware that everything of an earthly nature is tainted. We don't need to become monks to retain our faith. Just remember, it's all right for a ship to be in the ocean, but woe unto that ship if the ocean gets into it.
The Greater Truth Principle
In my many years of study, I've had to resolve where I stand on a wide range of issues. During my research, I have often found one source saying one thing and another source saying the opposite. After many years of study, I have come up with a rule that has been very helpful to me.
I call it the "greater truth principle." In all arguments for truth, some facts and statements overrule all others. In a murder case, a mountain of circumstantial evidence may point to the suspect's innocence, but all it takes is one signed confession of guilt to nullify the circumstantial evidence. The suspect may not have initially fit the profile of a killer, but if he admits to the crime and provides a motive, the lack of the profile match becomes irrelevant.
Here's a more in-depth illustration to drive the point home: One might say, "Tom and I are going bass fishing this weekend." Supporting this claim are the following true statements:
Tom and I have gone fishing each weekend during the past month.
Tom just bought a new fishing pole and wants to try it out.
We plan to go fishing this weekend.
Tom's brother is coming along with us.
The weather is going to be great well into next week.
These five points may be true, and they make it highly likely that Tom and the person making the statement are going bass fishing this coming weekend. However, other factors can instantly make them incorrect. Those factors instantly become the dominant truth outranking all other statements. Here are a few examples:
Tom had a heart attack and is now recovering in the hospital.
Tom's Army reserve unit was called up and he had to leave immediately.
Tom had to make an unexpected two-week business trip to Europe.
Tom died in an accident.
These four declarations override each of the first five statements. If Tom is barred by overwhelming circumstances from attending the fishing date, it doesn't matter what his plans were for that weekend.
Some people try to dance around the truth by promoting implausible answers to absolute statements. Here are a few examples of these types of remarks:
Tom Jr. was whom I was talking about.
Tom will be there in spirit.
Tom will rise from the grave.
The key to making the greater truth principle work is to honestly judge which truth outranks another lesser truth. You have to do this without injecting your own personal opinions into the decision-making process.
Examples of Greater Truths
The main purpose for my website is to defend the pre-trib rapture doctrine. I have included on the site dozens of articles that detail why I believe in pretribulationism; however, the greater truth that always puts the issue to rest is Matthew 24:44: "For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." There simply cannot be a rapture surprise if we already know the event is coming at the mid-point, pre-wrath, or end of the tribulation.
Many liberal scholars will tell you all religions lead to God. They quote passages that talk about God's eternal love for mankind. The greater truth facing universalism has to be Jesus' statement in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Rev. Sun Myung Moon is the leader of the cult, "The Unification Church." One of his specialties is having a supernatural ability to match up strangers for his mass weddings. People who have never met before are told by Moon that they are perfect matches for each other. The first greater truth would be that Moon's teachings are not found in the Bible. The most pointed greater truth that disputes Moon's claim of being a divine matchmaker is the fact he's been divorced himself.
In the debate between eternal security and responsible living, those who believe in "once saved, always saved" quote John 6:47: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." In James 2:26, we have one of the clearest examples of the power of a greater truth: "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." In order for James' statement to be correct, John 6:47 has to come with conditional requirements.
Regarding homosexual acts, Leviticus 18:22 makes it very clear where the Bible stands on the subject: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." I've never read a rebuttal that tried to use Scripture to counter the numerous passages that condemn the gay lifestyle. The most common approach is to say God was talking about the perversion of pure homosexuality, such as homosexual rape, prostitution, and lust. If you stick to the Golden Rule, there is no way you should misunderstand the Bible's view on this matter.
You can always find ads for baldness cures in men's magazines and on late-night cable channels. The hucksters selling these products claim they can restore anyone to a full head of hair. The greater truth disproving these ads is the fact that image-conscious male celebrities continue to suffer from various stages of baldness.
I realize some folks may disagree with me on my examples of greater truths. If that is the case, I challenge you to find in the Bible a greater, greater truth that invalidates any of the ones I've cited.
The Bible: Your Only Dependable Source for Truth
The Berean citizens, of the Book of Acts, are famous for their dedication to biblical truth. When the Apostle Paul was instructing them in the faith, every day they would check the Old Testament to verify the claims Paul was making about Jesus being the promised Messiah.
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were
so" (Acts 17:10-11).
Without the Bible there is no understanding of eternal truth. The truth that man has forever been trying to devise is subject to constant revision. In the final summation, it will have to be said: All truth begins with God and all truth ends with God.
I've searched the internet and book libraries for commentary on truth, and have found very little instruction on how to find it. I had zero trouble locating material that talked about the need for truth. The Bible goes on endlessly about the subject of truth. It boldly and emphatically says, look no further:
"Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth" (Psalm 119:142).
"The sum of thy word is truth" (Psalm 119:160).
"Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
"And now, O Lord Jehovah, thou art God, and thy words are truth" (2 Sam. 7:28).
"And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation" (2 Tim. 3:15).
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).