“What is truth?” This is a big question. Philosophers, psychologists, lawyers, and first-century Roman officials (John 18:38) ask it. The dictionary says that truth is that which is “in accordance with fact or reality.” Truth is the way things really are. Truth is what really happened. Truth is real — fact. Untruth is unreal — fiction.
And truth does not change because we agree with it. Truth does not require our assent or permission to be true. I can say that up is down, but that does not make it true.
Sometimes people can get confused about truth because (truly) we all have different experiences. Since we live different lives, we all experience different things in life. Different things are true of me than might be true of others, but those those truths about me are a part of the real, true world. For example: I am a man. And I have a beard. Those things are not universal truths because they are not true of all people. In addition, they are different kinds of truths. I am a man, and I always will be. Though I have a beard, I likely won’t always have one. My beard could change. But the truth that I had a beard at this time on this date will never change. In fact, it can never change.
That might have seemed like a long and wandering introduction. After all, truth is evident to all, so why bother sharing pop-philosophical thoughts about it? Well, truth is a concept that is highly valued, but not well understood. And as teachers, we are called to teach truth. We are also called to teach students to know and find the truth in a world of competing messages. To that end, the folks at GotQuestions help us understand what truth is not with the following list:
- Truth is not simply whatever works. This is the philosophy of pragmatism—an ends-vs.-means-type approach. In reality, lies can appear to “work,” but they are still lies and not the truth.
- Truth is not simply what is coherent or understandable. A group of people can get together and form a conspiracy based on a set of falsehoods where they all agree to tell the same false story, but it does not make their presentation true.
- Truth is not what makes people feel good. Unfortunately, bad news can be true.
- Truth is not what the majority says is true. Fifty-one percent of a group can reach a wrong conclusion.
- Truth is not what is comprehensive. A lengthy, detailed presentation can still result in a false conclusion.
- Truth is not defined by what is intended. Good intentions can still be wrong.
- Truth is not how we know; truth is what we know.
- Truth is not simply what is believed. A lie believed is still a lie.
- Truth is not what is publicly proved. A truth can be privately known (for example, the location of buried treasure).
It is a fact that many intelligent academic leaders deny the truth of the Bible. But the Bible is true regardless of what they believe. It is a fact that some people get away with telling lies in this life. But that doesn’t make the lies truth regardless of the consequences. It is a fact that many people earnestly believe that there is no God. But they are earnestly wrong regardless of how fervent their beliefs are.
When you teach in a biblically-integrated fashion, you are offering your students something amazing — truth. God is the ultimate Truth. He is the Truth that all truths are contingent upon. Why is the earth in orbit around the sun? Well, gravity hold it in place. But God holds gravity. And the sun. And the earth. And our ability to notice these things. He has declared these things to be so. I tell my students that when God said, “Let there be light,” light came true. God, as Truth Himself (John 14:6), is the one who defines and declares truth. He is the Shaper of reality. Reality conforms to God. And truth is that which conforms to reality.
When you practice biblical integration, you are trying to tell “the truth, the whole, and nothing but the truth.” An dis-integrated lesson can’t be the whole truth because it is missing Truth Himself.