What is Truth, Now There Is a Complicated and Controversial Question

The subject of truth is so complicated and controversial that all I have the courage, conviction and clarity to share, at this time in this article, are a few contributions to the conversation.

First, here are some questions to ponder:  How destructive have the controversies concerning truth become in the 21st Century?  How much damage, if any, are differences in perspectives on truth doing to our culture, our lives, the world, the creation?  How hard are you working to minimize any possible damage by conscientiously working to know and to tell the truth?  How important is it to you–measured by the efforts you are making to know, tell, be the truth—to answer the question, “What is truth?”

Second, here is a transformational story concerning the disciplined effort required, especially by those whose positions give them influence over others, to know truth:

In seminary my preaching professor was the renowned pastor and preacher, Dr. Gardner C. Taylor.  He gave us all the same assignment.  Preach a prophetic sermon from a text in the book of Micah and apply the message to a specific current and critical social issue.  I choose the destruction of the ozone layer of the upper atmosphere, which had (still I informed the other students, who apparently were not familiar with my issue of choice, that the widespread use of chloroflorolcarbons as refrigerants and propellants in spray canisters, threatened all life on the planet earth.  (Those words still sound a bit ridiculous, don’t you think?  Your deodorant canister was a deadly weapon?  My classmates were not impressed.) 

That was 1975.  The class was harsh in their evaluation of my application. 

However, Dr. Taylor concluded the class by adding:

We have agreed that Mr. Whitt is a good preacher.  His delivery and exegesis were           flawless.  The question we are left with that must be answered, as we critique Mr. Whitt’s is not even if he was right or wrong in his application of Micah’s prophecy.  We cannot be right of the time, but we must always try.  The right question is, “Did Mr. Whitt do his homework.

Mr. Whitt, did you do your homework?” 

Back then, I thought I had done my homework.  But, my application was based on just a couple of magazine articles I had read.  It was not long before I adopted more stringent guidelines for my research and study, especially when speaking out on a controversial issue.

Dr. Taylor dismissed the class, and I was left to ponder.

I have never forgotten my professor’s question.  What does “doing your homework” mean?  Every prophetic proclamation includes the stated, or implied, announcement, “This is the Word of the Lord.”  The prophet, preacher, teacher and pastor is expected to do their research.  Today we call this, “due diligence.”  You and I are not always going to be right, but have we cared deeply about the truth and been prudent in our seeking for the truth?  Carelessness has no excuse, but it does have consequences.

A final word of warning from Abraham Lincoln (See the opening graphic in this issue of Weekly Whittlings.) warned us long ago that the misuse of the internet is an enemy of the truth. 

You, mis-guided consumers of internet rubbish, how long has it been since you actually read a book?  Or listened to any commentator on TV who did not agree with your already determined truth?  This behavior has the potential of fermenting a civil war. (AL)

Third, everyone has the responsibility, and the response-ability, to be full of care in their seeking of and speaking the truth.  Certain professions, however, scientists for example, have clearly codified standards and practices to make sure their search for truth is unbiased and painstaking.     

But what about social scientists, sociologists or even spiritual leaders who are seeking the truth?  What about voters?  Rarely can they do carefully controlled experiments.  The truth they seek is most likely subjective, even amorphous, vague or fluid.  Is it possible for them to follow clearly defined and effective standards as they seek for the truth?

My answer is, YES.  But, HOW?  The way I have learned and practiced is known as HUERISTIC research.  The standards and practices of heuristic research are the ones I try to follow when seeking to know the truth.  For example, during the research for my book, God Is Just Love, those practices included reading something like 125 books and consulting with a plethora of people who knew more than I did.

If you are really interested in learning more about heuristic research, you may decide to begin learning right now by looking it up in a dictionary or doing an internet search.  Or, you could wait until my newsletter comes out next week when I will give you a definition, and explanation and some real life examples.  However, given the effort it will take to do your own search, or just to read my next article, my “prophecy” is that few will proceed in that direction. 

My purpose is not to critique that choice but to let you know that when you have a colossal need to know, tell and live the truth, (and you do, even if you are not yet aware), there is a way forward.

Comments? We'd love to hear from you.