Sunday, March 20, 2005
What is truth?
John 18:37-38

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him."

In this passage Pilate asks such a provocative question of Jesus, "What is truth?", that we eagerly wait to hear what his answer is. This is our chance to finally settle one of the great philosophical questions of all time. Here is the Son of God himself here to tell us exactly what truth is. And yet Jesus disappoints. He doesn't answer the question.

I've recently heard some suggest that perhaps Pilate simply didn't wait around long enough to hear Jesus' answer. Maybe Jesus had the perfect definition ready to give him (and us), if only Pilate had waited around to hear it. Maybe...

Or maybe Jesus didn't answer because he didn't have the kind of answer Pilate was looking for. Maybe Jesus' silence is a heavy silence, full of significance. Maybe he was silent on the question of truth, because he knew that the question "What is truth?" could never be answered with simple philosophical propositions.

Didn't he say, just a few chapter before, that "I am the truth"? Maybe he couldn't give Pilate the kind of answer he was looking for, because truth, in its essence, is not merely propositional but personal, not definable through words but knowable only in relationship. Maybe to know truth we need to know Christ. And not just know things about him, but know him by experiencing him in real tangible ways through his body the church. Maybe Jesus couldn't tell Pilate what truth was unless Pilate was willing to enter a relationship with him, because truth is only possible in relationship.

posted by Mike Clawson at 10:17 PM | Permalink |


At 3/22/2005 02:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

Hello friend...

For a moment I almost felt like I was holding the bannana of incarnational ideals in my hand again and sitting on your kitchen table.

Thank you for a reminder that Truth and Life are ever more intimate and complex and tangible and intrusive than I imagine them to be.

And so is my need for them.



At 3/22/2005 09:28:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey Christina!

It's so good to hear from you. I've been meaning to call you for forever, but life's been crazy here ever since October. I won't be too busy though come April, so I'll try to call you soon.



At 6/06/2007 07:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

I was actually thinking about this yesterday and wondering if "figuring out what's true" is not only the wrong first step, but the wrong question altogether.

It's not easy to figure out what's true in a way that's both honest and really reliable. There's a minefield of fallacies and self-fulfilling assumptions along the way.

How do you decide The Truth? Logic? I'm not sure pure logic always answers all of the questions, since I'm not sure we're really logical beings at heart. It certainly doesn't give satisfying answers.

What then tells us what is true? Spiritual Feelings? That's the Mormon way, and it's fraught with confirmation bias, vague answers, and leaves you easily manipulated.

The Bible? Why would you pick the Bible instead of any other given book? how can you even be sure that the Bible is reliable, or even from God? There's a heavy dose of faith, whicm means in the end you're basing Truth on what you've decided truth is anyway.

But as of late i've been thinking that "figuring out what's true" isn;t even necessarily important. For me, I am compelled by Jesus Christ, and I start with that- wanting to know him, to engage him, and to be like him. I'm not even asking "what's True."