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My 2021 Vision: A year of restoring truth

Hopefully you think that the idea of restoring truth is a good one. The implication is that the truth has gone wrong somehow and needs to be restored. But, before I get too deep in the woods, let’s make sure we are on the same page when I use terms like “restore” and “truth”.

Having been married for 34 years this month, one of the things I have learned is how easily conversations can go awry when we are not clear by what we mean. (That’s a tip for you married folks.)

Restore

The word restore is pretty cut and dried. The only definition that makes sense is

“to bring back to or put back into a former or original state.”

With all the craziness of 2020 I think many people have had a difficult time discerning what is true from what is false. Restoring a sense of trust based on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God, would be greatly welcomed.

Truth

The word truth is a little trickier. If I asked 10 people what they think “truth” meant, I would probably get 10 different answers. I would never have suspected that was the case until I wrote my first book and asked my brother-in-law to help me edit it. He is a great guy, a gifted writer, and a Christian. I assumed we thought alike…until we got to the subject of truth. He thought that truth could be relative, meaning some people may not agree on what was truth and what was not. That threw me. In my estimation the “truth” was always true, otherwise, it could not be the truth. I found that many people agreed with my brother-in-law’s concept of truth, but I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe this will help:

Greek concept of truth

Much of our western thought and language comes to us from the Greek and Roman philosophers so it seems natural that our interpretation of truth comes from them. The Greek word for truth is alethia. It comes from the word leth which means to escape notice or to conceal.

To the Greeks and Romans of the ancient world truth probably meant the “absence of deceit and concealment.”

The point is that for most Europeans and Americans (both north and south) “truth” means

something that we don’t perceive to have any falsehood.

Here’s the problem with that definition, and the way most people perceive “truth”: rarely does a deceived person know they are being deceived. So, to many, what is true today may not be true tomorrow, or what you think is true may not be true to someone else.

Judeo-Christian concept of truth

For those of you who claim to be Christian or Jewish, your concept of “truth” should be different. Truth is mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible more than 100 times. While most of the New Testament was written in Greek, the origins of most of it were in the Aramaic language and came from a Hebrew concept.

The Hebrew word for truth is emet. It has a very rich and comprehensive meaning that would take too much to fully explain here. Emet in Hebrew contains the first, middle, and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet which gives it a meaning that it encompasses everything, and it endures from the beginning to the end. In my words, it is a firm foundation that does not change. So, it seems that:

A New Testament definition of “truth” is

something that is not subject to interpretation or change.

When Jesus said he was the alpha and the omega, he was referring to the Hebrew concept of emet. When he said he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life he was referring to the same thing.

The challenge

A seldom-used passage of scripture reveals that the challenge of understanding the concept of truth is the same today as it was 2000 years ago. In John’s Gospel account of Jesus being interrogated by Pilate (the Roman governor who would decide Jesus’ innocence or guilt), there was an interesting exchange about the meaning of “truth”.  When Pilate asked if Jesus was a king, part of Jesus’ answer was that he “came into the world to testify to the truth”. In John’s gospel (John 18:37) He said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” To which Pilate replied, “What is truth?”

I don’t think Pilate was being a jerk or disrespectful with his reply. He was asking a very profound question, one that is still pertinent today. I think he was replying from a Greek/Roman concept of truth, whereas Jesus was talking about an entirely different concept of “truth”. So, you see, there is a lot of room for confusion surrounding your understanding of truth.

Questions for you to ponder:

What do you think truth means?

Is it subject to interpretation?

Can it change?

From where did you get your concept of truth?

Was your source trustworthy?

How do you know you weren’t deceived?