Subscribe to our Compelling Mail Newsletter:

What is truth?

Subscribe to our Compelling Mail Newsletter:

When speaking of truth, readers of the Bible often first think of Pilate's question to Jesus in John 18:38: "What is truth?" Still today, many wrestle with whether there is anything that is absolutely true or false or whether truth even exists.

A simple definition of truth is to define it as something that corresponds to its object. In other words, it is "truth" to say water is a substance that consists of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and is found in oceans, rivers, and other locations. In fact, to deny this is true is to make a competing truth claim. To say, "That is not true," is to claim the one making the statement knows it is not true because of another truth. Therefore, truth does exist.

The next question is, "Can truth be known?" As limited human beings, we cannot claim to know all truth, but we can claim there are true things we can discover. This is true both of the physical world (such as identifying rocks or trees) and of the abstract world (numbers or ideas). Therefore, we can know truth about reality, including evaluations regarding spiritual claims or truth about God.

At this point, the law of non-contradiction can be helpful in discovering whether an idea about God is true. The law of non-contradiction states that two opposing ideas cannot both be true at the same time and place under the same conditions. In other words, 2+2 cannot equal 4 and 2+2 equal 5 at the same time and place under the same conditions. It must be one or the other, 4 or 5.

Applied to spiritual truth, the law of non-contradiction can be helpful in evaluating many ideas regarding God. For example, a single God either exists or does not exist. A single God cannot logically exist for one person but not for another. In other words, it is inconsistent to make the postmodern claim, "It's true for you, but it's not true for me" when it comes to God's existence. He either does exist or He does not. He cannot both exist and not exist at the same time and place in the same conditions.

This same view of truth can help regarding many other faith claims as well. For example, Christianity's fundamental belief is the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Did He come alive again or not? There are only two options. The evidence must be evaluated with a conclusion of what is the most likely choice. While acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is an act of faith, the resurrection is a matter of fact. It either took place or it did not.

A similar approach can be made regarding the Bible. Is it the inspired Word of God or not? It must be inspired, inspired in part, or not inspired. The options are limited. It is inconsistent to make the claim "the truth is relative" because truth is not relative. Truth is that which corresponds to its object. Some issues may be a matter of opinion, but others are a matter of fact or of truth.

When we face questions of truth, our wisest response is to evaluate the options and determine the best decision based on the available information. Our understanding of truth may vary from one person to another, but truth is consistent. We need not abandon the concept of truth simply because others view some truths about life differently.

Ultimately, truth is a spiritual issue as well as a philosophical one. Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). If He is the truth, then the proper response would be to follow Him and His teachings. Pilate's question, "What is truth?" continues to find far-reaching relevance into each of our lives today as we each must decide what to do when we encounter Jesus Christ.

Related Truth:

Is the Bible really the Word of God?

Faith vs. science. Is there a contradiction between faith in God and science?

What is general revelation? What is special revelation?

Does life have meaning?

Is it true that Jesus is the only way to heaven?

Return to:
Truth about Worldview and Apologetics

Compelling Truth HOME