What is Truth?
There seems to be a popular movement these days within higher learning in regards to the proper definition and understanding of the word truth. Through the re-definition of this single word, virtually every single problem of church unity, right worship, faith, morality, decline of the home, abortion, you name it, can be traced. Postmodern secularists, as you know, now run rampant, not only in our universities, but also in our public as well as private elementary, junior, and senior high schools. They label their views tolerant, insightful, and in many cases, elite. However, they are, quite honestly, none of these things. They do not believe in truth because in a culture where all views are equal and none are wrong, then all things and ideas must be merely relative so as not to offend those who disagree. Truth becomes, in their view, only a construct or a creation of our minds. Many even go a step further in proclaiming that it is Christians who have misused truth and are the cause of every political and social injustice ever known to modern mankind. If you don't believe me in regards to that last point, when was the last time you heard a mainstream professor or instructor question and/or insult the morality, philosophical teachings, or the creation theories of the American Indian, a Wiccan, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a Muslim? You haven't and you won't. It is Christianity alone which is being attacked, and of course, the only way to conquer Christianity, is to re-define truth. If society, then, can re-define truth, it can then easily and quickly tear apart the Christian community. The reason Christianity proclaims the truth is because it proclaims Christ as "the way, the truth, and the light" and Christ himself revealed absolute truth to the world. Therefore, anyone who rejects Christ places a "stumbling block" in-between themselves and truth. If Christ and His Church are the truth, and can be proven to be so beyond a reasonable doubt, then the only way for the truth of Christ to be conquered is for it to be re-defined.
Winston Churchill once wrote, "Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." This statement humorously affirms the idea that while men often come upon the truth, they often reject and ignore it willingly. Many of us accept today that "no one can know the truth." The problem is, this statement is self-defeating. It is self-defeating because in order for the statement to be taken seriously, the statement would have to be true, meaning the person uttering the statement would know truth. If anyone says that you cannot know truth or that truth is relative, tell him or her to go jump off a very high building so as to prove that gravity is not knowable, the hardness of concrete is not knowable, and death by impact is untrue. Nevertheless, we know the statement "no one can know the truth" is a completely false statement. There are many very knowable truths in this world. There are real and absolute truths everywhere and they can be found in every aspect of our lives. Truth exists in science, history, philosophy, and even politics. Therefore, as Orthodox Christians, we have an obligation to seek out the truth in every single aspect of our lives or we will fall under the heavy weight of its burden.
This does not mean that we use truth for own selfish means, contort truth to support sin, or use truth for the insidious reduction of another human being. Those very actions themselves go against the absolute truths of love, compassion, and forgiveness. Truth is too big to be used like a ten-year-old child who might say, "You're a big fat jerk. I'm just being truthful." This is immaturity, which is a breeding ground for untruths. Thus, we must accept truth in all of its forms, as the truths of love, compassion, forgiveness, justice, science, and philosophy are not contrary to one another, but coexist, for they must. If they did not, then they would cease to be truths.
For example, if we accept that science opposes Christianity, as some mistakenly believe, then as secularists we would have to accept that Christianity is false because of the many absolute truths within science. However, on the contrary, present science continues to prove the validity of Christian teachings, morality, and intelligent design theory more and more everyday. Real, accurate science supports Christianity, so why is this not being taught publicly. Well, it has nothing to do with the "separation of church and state," as you might think. Simply put, there is an anti-Christian bias in this world that has and will continue to exist until the Second Coming. Go to any collegiate evolutionary course and you will find just as much talk about the Old Testament than in any Religious 101 course around, demonstrating their opposition to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures alone. The secular atheists continue to place science in opposition to Christianity, though no opposition exists. They continually proclaim, for example, that the entire cosmos and all that is within it, were created out of nothing, against all known scientific laws without divine intervention, that the perfect design and balance of all matter and life is completely accidental, and that morality is merely a human construct.
They constantly fail to accept that only the morality of a truly Christian society can result in an orderly, peace seeking, and just society. They often point to so-called Christian atrocities during the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition as proof positive that all of Christianity is oppressive and out of touch. However, they willingly fail to acknowledge that none of the atrocities surrounding these events were supported or condoned by the real and true Orthodox Christian Church. Atrocities committed by small, isolated groups of Christians do not make them, as whole, Christian atrocities. Additionally, scientific principles of law, order, and statistics prove over and over again the truth of Christ, yet we are told by many atheistic, humanistic, self-serving scientists that science disproves any and all religions. And why? Because the truth of God and his morality is too much to accept. To live a moral, disciplined life is not appealing enough, even if it is based on truth. Atheist, Scientist, and Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, "It is our preference that decides against Christianity, not our arguments." What this most very candid statement demonstrates is that those outside of true Orthodox Christianity aren't interested in listening to statements of fact, since those statements don't support their desire that God doesn't exist or that He is so "distant" from us that there is no possible way to know which world religion proclaims His truth.
It seems logical, also, that in this modern society, intelligence and intellect are also placed in opposition to Christian beliefs and teachings. While this is not true, we as Christians, through our own actions, have accepted this untruth. To this day, many of us reject the truth of Christ because of our own humanistic, secular, and self-serving ideas and ways (i.e. "the church is a business"). We confuse the world by not living what we preach. We say that Christian morality is the way of truth, but don't even live it or make any effort to defend it. We say we believe in the Bible but know nothing of it. We say that we believe in the episcopacy, the priesthood, and the grace within them, but fail to recognize any of the Church authority they might have. We say that abortion, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, selfishness, and dishonesty are the downfalls of a society, then show statistical data that all of these behaviors do, in fact, result in a corrupt society, then openly commit these behaviors, or even defend them, rather than confront them. We profess the importance of wisdom and knowledge, yet know nothing of real history beyond our secular history books and classrooms. We reject data that supports our very own arguments against cohabitation, cremation, and the tragedies of assisted suicide. We often claim that we don't have the time to educate ourselves on our faith or attend church regularly, but find plenty of time to read romance novels, research books on the occult or even aliens, and watch the all too important football game, baseball game, or golf match, which easily last several hours on prime time television. The world rightly asks us, how can you proclaim the truth of Christ, when your actions demonstrate that you don't even believe in His truth or live by it yourself?
So what will our answer be? How will we respond to all of these accusations? Do we, in fact, believe in absolute truth and the truth of the God-made-Man, Jesus Christ? Can we support our arguments of the true Faith and the one true Church of Christ that exists to defend and proclaim that truth? Or will we placate ourselves so as not to offend? We must begin to place reason and truth above feelings, for if we do not, we will continue to accept that anything is true, based on how we feel about it, rather than basing our decisions on merit. We must not be ashamed, embarrassed or ambiguous about the truth we possess. We must be committed to living a life in Christ, and in so doing, we will bring others to Him through our very own behaviors. Those who have found real truths in their lives, find living life so much more complete and so much freer from the bondage of compulsion and sin. Those who reject truth will continue to re-define truth, will continue to design their own already failed moralities, and will ultimately reject God and reject the truth. The moment we refocus our minds to accept truth and to make all decisions with it clearly in mind, our lives will be changed forever, and at the end of the tunnel, Christ will be waiting, for He was Truth, He is Truth, and He will always be Truth. Glory Be to Jesus Christ!
-Fr. Michael Ellis