What is Truth?
“The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be a theological wilderness.” - A.W. Tozer
Just the other day we celebrated the anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France on 6 June 1944. It has been my high honor to serve as a military chaplain and I have personally heard the stories of many who participated in that invasion. One story about WWII sticks out. It involved the battle of Anzio. The LST was about to land and the troops would soon have to leave their armored plated cocoon and face an entrenched enemy who, in all probability, was prepared to mow them down with withering machine gun fire.
The officer in charge told the men, “We all know that once this door opens, if we all just try and make it on our own, somehow most of us will be killed. (They could already hear rounds hitting the LST.) Here is what we’re going to do. You, grab on to my belt, and each of the others grab onto the belt of the man in front of you. It’s our best chance to survive.” He was right. The only two who didn’t survive the initial landing were the commander and the first man behind him.
I think today of another story told to me my pastor colleague, who was also a Navy veteran. He reminded me that at boot camp they trained in a firefighting simulator that filled with smoke. Pastor Larry reminded me that it was not only important for each sailor to grab the belt of that man who went before to save his own life; it was equally vital for those sailors behind them. The ones who would follow behind were relying on the ones who went before to escape the smoke and survive the confusion.
The Bible tells us that our spiritual armor consists of swords and shields, but it also contains a belt, a belt of truth. St Augustine wrote:
“When regard for truth has been broken down or even slightly weakened, all things will remain doubtful.”
In this scandal ridden era of lying politicians and a complicit press, perhaps it might be a good idea to grab the belt of those who have gone before. The very word used to describe truth in the New Testament is aleithia -- literally “no concealment.” We are in a war that at its core is spiritual and demonic. “In war, truth is the first casualty,” wrote Aeschylus.
Stability, certainty and trustworthiness, these are all synonyms of truth. They are also sadly lacking and rapidly disappearing in our day. Truth is not to be found in Washington D.C., or Hollywood, or on the college campus. Or, sadly, even in many pulpits anymore.
The agent of Rome, with all the authority of the most powerful state that had ever existed, looked at the Son of God: “What is truth?” he asked. He had no idea that the source of truth itself was looking back at him. I don’t know about you, but in these perilous days I am going to grab the belt of the saints that have gone before and trust the one who said, “I am the Way, the truth and the life . . ..”
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