The problem with truth

Truth is a tricky concept. Often people most passionate about the truth–whatever their truth happens to be–are the most difficult people to be around. Hence the timeless question that Pilate asked Jesus: what is truth?

Truth is not an idea, no matter how good a particular idea happens to be. Yes, varying degrees of truthfulness exist in the realm of ideas and concepts. It is certainly truer to say that God is a Father than it is to say that God is a spoon. But God is not a Father. God is like a Father in the way that God cares for us. “God the Father” is an idea, albeit a good, orthodox, and useful idea. But God alone is Truth, which means that even the divinely revealed metaphors we use to understand God fall short of Truth.

The problem with intellectual truth is our tendency to form emotional attachments to ideas we consider true, especially about God. Our sense of self is bolstered by ideas we believe to be true, and thus when your idea of truth contradicts my idea of truth, I feel threatened and I want to crucify you.

We are masters of self-deception. We say that we are defending the truth, but really we are protecting ourselves and the ideas that constitute that self. The Truth is never threatened. It is always I who feel threatened.

Truthful ideas about God are essential in the spiritual life. But at some point truth must cease to be something we fight for and become something we live. Truth is a Living Presence. Jesus is Truth, a Force we are aligned with only to the extent that this Force leads to our crucifixion, and not someone else’s.