January’s free book on apologetics invites readers to consider who God is, who God is not, and other eternity-altering truths. Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith by Mark Lanier begins with a simply-put question: “God? gods? Or Nothing?” and follows with other points pivotal to the Christian faith. Lanier’s combination of courtroom stories, Scriptures, science, and scholarship make this a compelling read.
The excerpt below is adapted from chapter seven of Christianity on Trial, “Reality and the God of Truth.”
What does the Bible say truth is? What is real?
The core of biblical teaching is that truth is unified and grounded in God.
Much of the Old Testament entails nuts-and-bolts thinking about what really happened in history. Truth (emet) means “firmness” or “stability.” It is “that which can be relied on.” It is closely tied to the Hebrew word for “faith” (emunah), which reflects someone or something you can rely on without being disappointed. In Old Testament usage, truth is grounded in God.
The New Testament retains the same ideas, but John takes the idea a bit further. Like so many other areas of his Gospel, he uses terms that have strong meaning in both Hebrew and Greek circles. His use of truth accurately conveys something firm and stable. John was able to write in a way that brought out Greek ideas as well. John’s use of the Greek word for truth (aletheia) represents more than half of its use in the entire New Testament. . . .
John relates the story when Jesus interacted with Pilate on truth. Prior to that story, John gave several other accounts that put the Pilate story into perspective. In John 14 Jesus told his disciples that he was leaving to prepare a place for them. The disciples, however, were totally blind to what Jesus meant. Thomas asked how they could know the way Jesus was going because they did not know Jesus’ destination. Jesus responded with the bold statement, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also” (John 14:6–7).
Jesus’ claim to be truth also occurred elsewhere. Earlier in Jesus’ interactions with a number of Jews, he pointed out that those who truly followed him would know the truth and that truth would liberate them (John 8:31–32).
As Jesus says “I am the truth,” he declares himself to be the one on whom people can rely. He is the measure of true reality.
This calls into question anyone and anything else. If he is the truth, if he is reality, if he is the measure, then where do the rest of us fit in? Jesus turns seeking truth on its head.
Truth is not found first in one’s mind, one’s experiences, or one’s logic. Truth is external to us, and we have the opportunity to make that truth part of our mind, experience, and life.
Truth is not found by a seeking human. Truth comes from God pursuing us.
This post is adapted from Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith by Mark Lanier.
- Faith Has Its Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith
- Is Believing in God Irrational?
- God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain
The title of this post is the addition of the editor. The author’s views do not necessarily represent those of Faithlife.