Tag Archive for opinion

The Mission and the Message

 

Who has believed what we’ve been saying?
Who has seen the Lord’s saving power?  (Isa 53:1 NIRV)

 

Some people ask me why I write this stuff without getting paid for it.  Simply enough, I didn’t pay to receive the messages, so I imagine it’s only fair to offer them for free.

 

Basically, I sit down to write, I pray for a message, and I type what comes.  It is no concern of mine who accepts the message and who doesn’t.  My job is simply to deliver it.

 

So is it worth it?  I would say yes.  I do encounter some opposition, but not as much as you might think.  That would probably be significantly worse if I were broadcasting my own opinions, but since I deal in Truth, I am more interested in ending arguments than starting them.

 

Sometimes I wonder though.  Why is it that I don’t encounter any more opposition than I do?

 

Do the messages have more authority because they come from God?  Well, Jesus was speaking the words of God straight from His mouth, and they crucified Him, so that’s not it.

 

Is it because of my superior skills as a writer?  Doubt it, because then somebody would be paying me more for my words by now.

 

Maybe my messages just aren’t bold enough to make people angry enough to respond?  Maybe, but I’ve never really been one to hold back.  If anything, I’m known for erring on the side of Truth rather than grace.

 

So what is it then?  I have an idea.

 

You see, I pray before I write so that whatever message comes out of my laptop onto this page is the message God wants me to broadcast to the world, but I also pray when I’m finished writing, just before I click “publish,” that the message will be delivered to just the people who need to see it.

 

This is where faith comes in.  I am never thinking of anyone specific when I write.  I just write.  I am completely relying on God that the message will be coherent, and understood by those who need to hear it.

 

I don’t get many comments, and I am OK with that.  But it does mean the world to me when somebody drops me a brief note to tell me how something I tossed out onto the internet brightened their day or caused them to look at something in a new way.

 

That is how I know I am fulfilling my mission.  Why would I charge money for that?  Part of the trust and reliance I have on God is that my needs will be met if I obey his instructions.  And they are.

 

I never know what I’m going to write when I sit down to do a Truth Mission post.  Many professional writers will tell you that’s a bad idea, but I am reminded of a story Corrie ten Boom told in her book, The Hiding Place.

 

Corrie would frequently ride the train from Haarlem to Amsterdam with Casper, her father.  He would always have the tickets in advance, but he wouldn’t give Corrie her ticket until right before they got on the train.  The lesson is that she always got what she needed right at the moment she needed it, and not a minute sooner, even though she knew that it was coming.

 

That is how faith works.  God knows what we need before we do.  He holds onto it until just the right time.  This may not be what we perceive as the right time, because we are not patient people.  But faith is trust, and trust involves learning to wait.

 

Life isn’t ever going to be perfect, and things rarely go well on our own schedules.  I would love to be able to post every day on here, and have advertisers falling at my feet wanting to sponsor my site, and make lots of money writing so that I would never have to hear an alarm clock again.

 

But that’s not why I’m here.

 

I am here to plant seeds of Truth.  The harvest is God’s job.

 

I’m not trying to “save the world.”  But if something I felt prompted to write affects even one person’s life, then I have changed that person’s world.

 

And who knows where that might lead?

 

DN=: Part 7–Hatred

 

I gain understanding from your instructions,
so I hate anything that leads people the wrong way.

Your word is like a lamp that guides my steps,
a light that shows the path I should take.

Psalm 119: 104-105 ERV

  

In Part 5, we discussed the difference between exercising sound judgment and being judgmental.  But how does this play out in the course of our daily lives?  Maybe it would be best to illustrate with a story (ALLEGORY ALERT!!!)

 

THE MAZE

 

You feel the panic start to rise in your throat as the door closes behind you.  You hadn’t counted on the maze being pitch black.  Of course, you might have known that if you had actually read the book, the book you carried into the maze with you, now useless in the darkness.

 

You slow your breathing and try to recall the directions you were given just moments ago.  The shortcut.  In your mind’s eye, you focus on his penetrating, bloodshot stare and force his words to echo in your brain again, the words that were carried to you on breath that smelled of spoiled meat and rotten eggs.

 

“Don’t bother with the book; there’s a better way,” he had said.  He had appeared out of nowhere as you stood at the entrance, trembling with a mixture of nervousness and excitement.  Before you had recovered enough from your surprise, and momentary revulsion at the smell, he had continued.  “The shortcut.  Take you right to the middle.”  Where the prize waited.  The greatest prize ever won.

 

You don’t know exactly what the prize is, because again, you never found the time to read the book.  You had meant to, of course.  Ever since the day you received it from your parents, the maze had been on your mind.  The maze with the prize at the center.  But life always seemed to get in the way, and the days got away from you one by one.

 

And now here you are in the dark, with the sound of your blood rushing in your ears, trying to drown out that sound with the memory of the foul-smelling man’s directions.  “Fifty paces from the entrance, turn left.”  You take a deep breath, let it out slowly, then begin.

 

With your left hand on the wall to guide you, you walk 50 steps.  Sure enough, there is a corner.  You turn left and continue.  “150 paces, right, 75 paces, another right, and then another, then a left. . .”  You repeat the man’s directions aloud over and over, trying to focus on where you are, and trying not to think about the pits.  You weren’t sure if they actually existed, but you had heard stories.  You absently think to yourself that if you had actually opened the book you might know if they were real or not.  Doesn’t matter now, because. . .

 

Suddenly your left hand is grasping at air.  The wall has ended on your left.  You freeze.  After just a moment, you realize you must be in some sort of chamber rather than a corridor.  No problem, just keep walking straight ahead.  Another 10 paces, 20, 30, still no wall on the left.

 

The fear begins.  You wonder if you are still walking a straight line, or if you have drifted to the right.  Are you still where you need to be, or in a different corridor entirely?  In this darkness, you could be walking in a circle and not even know it.  You freeze again, trying fruitlessly to get your bearings.  Then a new horror dawns upon you—you have lost count of your steps.

 

The fear rapidly accelerates to blind panic.  You start groping in all directions with both hands, trying to find a wall.  Nothing.  You are hopelessly lost.  Now you can’t even remember if you were supposed to go 200 steps in this direction or 300.  And which direction was that even?  You have no idea which way you are facing in the darkness.  On instinct, you open the book to try to find something, anything that might help, even as the small voice of reason under the torrent of panic in your mind tells you that it is pointless to try to read anything in this blackness.

 

But then, something amazing and totally unexpected happens.

 

The floor in front of you lights up.  Just two steps in front of you, like a black, yawning mouth, you see the pit.  Trembling, you look down at the book and see something even more astonishing on the page where you opened it:

 

You shouldn’t have listened to that guy back at the entrance.  He’s never made it through the maze.  Now turn around.

 

How can this be happening?  You don’t have an answer for that, so instead, you turn to look behind you, and see that you are indeed in a large open space.  Off to your right, you see dim light coming from a corridor.  The floor is lit up there too.  You walk to that corridor and proceed down the lighted path.  After about 180 steps, it ends abruptly another dark chamber.  You stop.  From the glow of the light behind you, you look at the book again, only now it simply says:

 

Are you going to stand there all day, or are you going to turn the page?

 

You turn the page, and immediately another corridor lights up to your right.  You look around and notice that there were many paths to choose leading off this chamber.  On the page, you see directions to walk down the lighted corridor to the T-intersection, and then turn right.

 

You begin down the corridor.  This is the longest one yet.  You can’t see the end, because the light on your path only extends about 100 feet in front of you.  As you begin to wonder just how long this corridor is, you come to another, smaller chamber.  From the dim glow of the path, you notice a sign on the wall.  It says:

 

PROCEED DOWN THIS CORRIDOR TO THE T-INTERSECTION, THEN TURN LEFT!

 

You stop and look at the book again, thinking you must have read it wrong.  But no, it definitely says to turn right at the T.  So which is it?  Left or right?

 

Now you have a decision to make.  “OK, let’s be logical about this,” you say to yourself aloud.  You reason that either way, you still have to go to the end of this corridor, so you take a deep breath, mutter, “Here goes nothing,” and step forward.

 

As soon as you have taken the first step, the entire corridor lights up, and you can see all the way down to the T at the end.  Relieved, you sprint all the way to the end.  But then you remember the problem—left or right?

 

You look to the right first—nothing but darkness.  Then you look to the left.  As soon as you do, bright overhead lights come on illuminating that entire passageway.  Down at the end, you can just make out a flashing green arrow pointing to the left underneath flashing red neon letters that say, “THIS WAY!”

 

You look back to the right.  Still just darkness.  Then you remember something the man back at the entrance of the maze had said:

 

That book is so out of date it’s completely useless.  It’ll have you wandering around in there lost until you starve to death.  The people who wrote it are the ones who built the maze to begin with!  Why would they want to share their prize with you?  They just want to lead you around like a sheep and keep you away from what you rightfully deserve!  People have been getting through the maze with my shortcut for years.  If that book worked, EVERYONE would use it!

 

You look back to the left.  Level ground, straight path, clear line of sight.  The choice seems obvious.  You decide to follow the sign and go to the left.

 

One step, then two, then three . . . nothing happens.  Ten more steps.  Still nothing.  You glance behind you.  Still dark going back that way.  You continue forward, more quickly and confidently this time.  Absolutely nothing changes.  Then you reach the end where the arrow points to the left.  You turn to face the direction where the arrow is pointing.  And your jaw drops.

 

Because just 50 yards in front of you, you can see a large, well-lit chamber.  And in the middle of that chamber is a pile of gold bricks as large as a haystack, shimmering in the light.

 

“I knew it!” you shout and tear off down this last corridor as fast as you can, the prize getting closer with every stride.  Twenty yards away, now ten, now five, then SMACK!!!

 

You hit the clear glass wall at top speed, knocking out your front teeth, shattering your nose and rendering you unconscious.

 

You wake up a few moments later, battered and bleeding, and you see the book lying next to you where it landed when you fell, upside down and fanned out to the last page.  You pick it up, and through a haze of throbbing pain, you read the words on the last page:

 

You should have turned right.

 

You feel the anger welling up inside you like a geyser, taking the place of the pain in your face.  As you picture the authors of the book smirking at you, the anger quickly morphs into hatred.

 

“How DARE these self-righteous dirtbags tell me what I did wrong!” you shout, spraying blood droplets all over the corridor.  In your rage, you throw the book against the wall, where it falls to the floor.

 

On the back cover, which you had never really looked at before, you see the publisher’s blurb in gold capital letters: “THROUGH THE MAZE, the newest masterpiece from the authors of BUILD A BETTER LIFE BY NOT WALKING INTO TREES!”

 

You remember that book, and all the people you thought needed a copy of it.  As you become aware again of the pain of your busted face, you sense the irony of the situation, and your hatred and anger quickly subsides.

 

After a few minutes, when your nose has stopped bleeding and your breathing has returned to normal, you remember something else.  When the book directed you down a dark path, it always lit up AFTER you took the first step.  You walk over, pick the book up off the floor, and turn again to the last page.  You start to wonder if maybe you should have turned right.

 

You walk back to the flashing sign with the arrow, turn right and look back the way you came to the T.  It’s still dark down there at the end as before, but you decide to do what you must do.

 

You backtrack to where you had made the wrong turn, and step into the darkness.  This time, you are not surprised when the floor in front of you lights up.  You are not even fazed when the well-lit corridor from which you have just emerged is plunged into darkness.

 

You look ahead, and see that the corridor ends just a short distance away at a door.  On the door is fastened a page written in the same lettering as the book you are carrying with you.  It reads:

 

To be counted among the wise, you must learn to accept helpful criticism.

If you refuse to be corrected, you are only hurting yourself.  Listen to criticism, and you will gain understanding.

Wisdom teaches you to respect the Lord. You must be humbled before you can be honored. (Proverbs 15:31-33 ERV)

 

And you finally realize that wisdom IS the prize.  You open the door, exit the maze and breathe the fresh air outside.  You hear a boisterous cheer and realize that a large crowd has gathered at the exit and are celebrating your victory.  A nurse appears, leads you a short distance away, and begins tending to your busted face.

 

From where you are seated, you can see the entrance to the maze.  You see two people talking near the entrance.  One appears to be giving directions to the other.  The second then walks toward the entrance with a mixture of fear and anticipation on his face.  Then the other turns toward you . . . and you see that it’s HIM!  The one who tried to sell you on the shortcut.  He recognizes you and grins evilly.

 

Immediately, in your mind, you hear his sneering voice and all the hateful words he said about the book and its authors.  Your anger starts to rise again, only this time instead of swelling into hatred, it solidifies into a sense of purpose.

 

You excuse yourself and run toward the other young man who is about to enter the maze.  You catch him by the elbow, startling him, and hand him the book.

 

“Here,” you say.  “You’ll need this.”

 

He scoffs in disgust and says, “I don’t need your stupid book!  I’ve been training for this for years!  I’ve been coached personally by the world’s leading experts on this maze!”

 

He’s pointing over your shoulder behind you, but you don’t even turn around, because you know at whom he is pointing.  But he’s not done yet.  With a deranged look in his eye and spittle flying from his lips, he goes on.

 

“Who do you people think you are walking around here trying to push your views down everybody’s throat?  What kind of an ignorant fool would write a book like this anyway?  And who in their right mind would publish it?  Sure, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but the people who wrote this is are clearly prejudiced idiots.  They’re just trying to pass off their hatred and bigotry as concern for people trying to find their own way through the maze.  That book is an embarrassment.  It makes me want to vomit!  It’s disgusting.  But you know what?  The writers have every right to expose themselves as total morons.  Out here in the light of day, everybody can see what they really are.  They have absolutely no regard for their fellow man!  I’m just glad they’re in the minority and most people don’t think like they do!”

 

Then he folds his arms and smirks at you.  You start to react, but then you catch yourself and remember, “You must be humbled before you can be honored.”  Your anger subsides, and is replaced with compassion.

 

You offer him the book again, saying, “Please take it.  This is what helped me get through the maze.  If you don’t. . .”

 

But he cuts you off with a left-hand wave.  Shaking his head condescendingly, he turns his back on you and walks again toward the entrance.  Then he looks back over his shoulder and offers this parting shot:

 

“You people would be hilarious if you weren’t so pathetic.  You trying to warn me with that book is about as scary as a kindergartner telling me I’m not getting any presents from Santa this year!”

 

Sadly, you realize that you have done all you can do, and you watch him enter the maze.

 

You return to where the nurse is waiting and say to her, “You might want to stick around.  I think you’ll be having another customer directly.”

 

The moral(s) of the story:

 

1.      WISDOM DN= PREJUDICE
2.      MAJORITY OPINIONS DN= TRUTH
3.      CORRECTION DN= HATRED

 

Don’t secretly hate any of your neighbors. But tell them openly what they have done wrong so that you will not be just as guilty of sin as they are.  Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.  (Leviticus 19:17-18 ERV)

 

(More on this in Part 8—Hate Speech)

 

Empty Glass: Part 3–Arrogance

 

Remember that common sense is just collective wisdom.  Collective wisdom, in turn, is a bunch of people that have had the same wisdom poured from the same pitcher INDIVIDUALLY into their empty glasses. 

 

Only some people don’t receive the wisdom.  This is because their glass has a lid on it.  The lid is called. . .

 

Arrogance

 

Arrogance usually comes about in this way.  A person with an empty glass gets their first sample pour from a good pitcher.  They taste and see that it is good.  Then the person with the pitcher offers to fill their glass.  Instead of accepting, however, the arrogant person says, “No, I’m good,” and slaps a lid on their half-full glass. 

 

They could have acquired more knowledge, but they shut themselves off.  Instead, they zealously protect the incomplete knowledge they do have as if to say, “My water is better than YOUR water.” 

 

If you did this with an actual glass of water, two things would eventually happen.  First, over time, the water in your glass would get stale.  Second, with the lid on your glass, you can’t even drink the stale water that you have.  So you get thirsty again.  Even worse, you can’t get any fresh water with the lid on your glass either.

 

In the same way, clinging desperately to incomplete knowledge makes your mind go stagnant. 

 

Face it—the world is going to progress whether you do or not.  For this reason, if your knowledge is at a standstill, it is actually going backward.  If there ever was a time when the arrogant person DID have superior knowledge, it didn’t stay that way for long.

 

Worse, the arrogant person is incapable of obtaining any new knowledge to supplant the old as long as he has the lid clamped down on the glass of his mind.  So the arrogant person becomes as thirsty as he was when he was ignorant. 

 

The key difference, however, is that the ignorant person knows that he is thirsty.  He will seek out a new pitcher, and is prepared to RECEIVE.  The arrogant person, on the other hand, refuses to admit his thirst and remove the lid, which is keeping his old knowledge contained. He is therefore unable to receive.

 

As such, the state of the arrogant man becomes worse than the state of the ignorant man.

 

(It gets worse.  Come back for Part 4–Stupid.)

 

Empty Glass: Part 1–Ignorance

 

As a writer, naturally I deal with words on a regular basis.  As such, I tend to analyze words more closely than the average person does.  A pet peeve that I share with many writers is when words are commonly misunderstood and subsequently misused.

 

The misused word that’s bugging me more than any other these days is “ignorant.”

 

The rampant misuse of this word generally occurs within the realm of opinions, as in, “You do not agree with my opinion; ergo, you are ignorant.” (See “Entitled to Our Own Opinion?” for more on this topic.)

 

The word “ignorant” is derived from the Latin ignorare, meaning, “not to know.”  Ignorance is a lack of knowledge; therefore, an ignorant person is someone in the state of being where knowledge, instruction, training, etc. is not present or has not occurred.

 

Since ignorance is a lack of knowledge, we may liken it to an empty glass.  There’s nothing flawed in the glass itself; it just doesn’t have any water in it.

 

So an ignorant person is the one carrying the empty glass.  There is nothing wrong with this person’s mind; they simply do not know what they do not know.  The one thing they do know, however, is that their glass is empty, and they are thirsty.  As a wanderer in the desert is thirsty for water, an ignorant person thirsts for knowledge and Truth.

 

Now when you’re thirsty, what do you do?  You get a glass and either go to the sink or the refrigerator and get a drink.  You know where to go to get what you are lacking.

 

It’s different when you’re dealing with a thirst for knowledge though.  The more ignorant you are, the more you don’t know what you don’t know.  You know that you need knowledge, but you may not know where to find it.  Life’s not as simple as getting the pitcher out of the fridge and pouring yourself a glass of water.

 

No, in life, someone else is holding the pitcher.  If the empty glass represents ignorance, then the pitcher represents knowledge.

 

Ignorance is solved by the person with the empty glass finding the person with the pitcher and asking them to pour into their glass.  This is the process known as. . .

Education!

 

When pouring water out of a literal pitcher, the pitcher gets emptier as the glass gets fuller.  With the pitcher of knowledge, however, the pitcher loses nothing by pouring out.  Not only is ignorance overcome by education, but the educated person (no longer ignorant) has now become equal to the educator with the pitcher, at least in regards to the specific knowledge that was shared.

 

There is a catch to this education process, however.  If you were getting yourself a drink out of the fridge, you know what you are pouring yourself—water, juice, milk, soda, etc.  You can see what is in the containers, or at least you can read the labels.

 

The pitcher of knowledge is trickier though.  Because you don’t know what you don’t know when you are truly ignorant, you also don’t know what’s in the pitcher.  You know you are thirsty, your glass is empty, someone is offering you a drink, so you accept.

However, due to your ignorance, you don’t have any sure way of knowing if what’s in the pitcher is good for you or not.  You may end up getting an education you hadn’t bargained for.

 

(To be expounded upon in Part 2–Experience)

 

Intolerance: Part 1–Listen!

 

Christianity has recently seen a rising number of attacks, from within the church as well as without, regarding its “intolerance.”

So is the Christian church intolerant? And if so, is that really such a bad thing?

We can better understand intolerance by first defining “tolerance” itself. One implication of tolerance might be to listen patiently to another’s ideas that differ from our own, while postponing criticism or judgment.

A reasonable definition of intolerance, then, would be the opposite—disagreeing without listening, judging without understanding, rejecting another’s view out of hand, or to sum it up in a single word—condemning.

So is that what the Christian church is? Condemning? Am I actually implying that it might be a positive thing for the church to behave that way toward people outside of it? Not in the least!

Of course, Christians, and everyone else, should be tolerant of other people. We are aware that many do not believe what we believe, or know what we know about Jesus and the Bible. The most effective method of reaching someone with different beliefs or opinions is, as Stephen Covey put it, to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Free Press, 1989.)

In other words, we must LISTEN, not just wait for our turn to talk. Our primary motive should never be to tell people why they are wrong, but rather to listen to their story. This active, empathic listening demonstrates tolerance.

However, there is a second part to this principle. We seek first to understand, but THEN we also seek to be understood. That means telling our side of the story. If we have treated someone with tolerance by actively listening, should we not expect the same courtesy in return?

Yet this is exactly the same courtesy that is NOT being returned to the church by antitheists and renegade theologians alike. They impetuously lump us into the political category of “the Christian Radical Right” and call us “demagogues” or much worse, because we defend our “interpretation of the Bible” as truth.

In other words, either they have judged the Bible without reading it, or if they have read it, they have dismissed it out of hand without trying to understand it or those who revere it, regard it as authoritative and follow its teachings.

In other words, by definition, they are being intolerant. Because Christians do not share their opinions or beliefs, we are seen by them as morons at best and likely dangerous.

The irony is that they never look at themselves with the same lens in which they view the world. True tolerance requires humility. It is impossible to listen tolerantly to another’s point of view without first humbly acknowledging the merit of the need of the other to be heard.

To indict someone of being intolerant by exhibiting the very intolerance you deplore is hypocrisy.

 

(Did I lose anybody? If not, please come back for Part 2–Good and Evil)

Entitled to Our Own Opinions?

          

 Opinions are like noses.  Everybody has one, and they’re always in your face.

 We say, “Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion,” generally when we disagree with that opinion.  But are we really entitled to an opinion?

Everyone who has an opinion strong enough to give voice to it typically assumes that his or her opinion is the correct one.  Nevertheless, there’s always somebody who will disagree with that opinion and offer one of their own.

So how do you determine whose opinion is the right one? 

Well, the truth is that NO opinion is the right opinion.  Here’s why.

An opinion is based on belief and perception with varying degrees of fact sprinkled in.  Different facts, beliefs and perceptions will lead to different opinions.  The one thing every opinion has in common, however, is that every opinion is based on an incomplete picture of the situation at hand. 

In other words, an opinion is simply somebody telling you what they think about what they don’t know.

For this reason, opinions can only serve the purpose of starting arguments.  Furthermore, these arguments have little hope of resolution.  For even if people make a show of listening to another’s opinion, much more often than not, they will still inwardly cling to their own.  Such a conversation will probably end in a mock-civil state known as “agreeing to disagree.” 

I believe the technical rhetorical term for that is “load of crap.” 

A Truthseeker never agrees to disagree.  Rather than attempting to win the argument by holding an opinion in a death-grip to the bitter end, a Truthseeker will do an end run around the argument to the common ground, seeking resolution in the relationship along with the Truth.

Remember from the Nature of Truth series the criteria for Truth:

 

  1.      Truth is Eternal—it was here before you got here and will remain, no matter what else changes.
  2.     Truth is Universal—it affects everyone in exactly the same way.
  3.     Truth is Indisputable—it is what is left over at the end of the argument.

Opinions simply do not fit these criteria.  If it is an opinion that you formed yourself, it started with you and will probably die with you (unless you manage to convince some people to carry it on after you are gone).  Therefore, opinions are not eternal.

Opinions definitely do not affect everyone the same way, or everyone would have the same opinion.  Therefore, opinions are not universal (duh).

Even more of a “duh” is that opinions are not indisputable.  In fact, they are at the very core of every dispute.

Therefore, we can only logically conclude that opinions are not Truth.  As such, NO opinion can be the right one.

Now here’s the sticky part—that means that YOURS isn’t the right one either.

So what to do then?  Simple!  Seek Truth, share it when you find it, and have nothing to do with opinions.  As Paul advised Timothy:

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 2:23-25  NIV)

 

No one is entitled to an opinion, but EVERYONE is entitled to Truth!

     

 

The Nature of Truth–Part 3: Indisputable

TRUTH IS INDISPUTABLE

 

All of us spend our lives accumulating facts, having experiences, hearing other people’s opinions, analyzing our own perceptions, and we weave the sum total of it all into what we call “belief.”  Our beliefs are what define us as human beings, and we cling to them for dear life.

 

But not everybody believes the same thing, obviously.  Some would argue that because there are so many societal belief systems and individual belief patterns in the world, how could we possibly think that there is any such thing as absolute truth?

 

Well, simply put, belief is not truth.

 

Belief is individual; truth is universal.  Belief dies with the person or culture that holds onto it; truth is eternal.

 

And here’s the biggie: belief causes arguments; truth ends them.

 

One problem with belief is that it is colored by our perception, the narrow tunnel through which we view the world.  As such, it seems we are always ready to question others’ beliefs, but rarely do we question our own.

 

WHY do we believe what we believe?  How many of us can truly answer that?  How many of us have ever even thought about it?

 

If someone says or does something that is contrary to our beliefs, the adrenalin kicks in, and we are ready to go to the dirt for what we believe in.

 

But truth is another matter entirely.  Because Truth is what’s left over at the end of the argument.

 

Take the two most disagreeable people on earth.  Lock them in a room, give them a topic (and an occasional bathroom break), and they will argue for hours and hours.  Each believes that he is right and the other is wrong.  But given enough time, they will eventually run out of things to disagree about. Then they will hit upon the one thing that they must agree on, because they have no choice.

 

This is truth.  Indisputable truth.

 

We know that we have transcended mere belief and found the truth when there is nothing left to argue about.  Whatever started the argument, truth is what ends it.

 

Two plus two equals four, because it simply can not equal anything else.

 

(to be concluded in Part 4: Offense)

 

The Nature of Truth–Part 2: Perception

 

TRUTH IS NOT SUBJECT TO PERCEPTIONS OR OPINIONS

 

One of the most insidious falsehoods today is “What’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is true for me.

 

The post-modern worldview professes that if there is no such thing as absolute truth, then there must also not be such things as good and evil, right and wrong, etc.

 

However, as we have already discussed in Part 1, there is such a thing as absolute truth.  It is eternal, and it is universal.  It applies exactly the same way to everyone, everywhere and in every age.

 

Every individual has his or her own perception or opinion of a given situation.  Jack may say, “It is too hot in this room.” Meanwhile, Jill might say, “No, it’s freezing in here.” The thermostat reads a constant 68 degrees for both people in the room.  However, each has his or her own perception and opinion about the temperature.

 

An argument begins.  When the dust settles, however, the fact remains that it is still exactly 68 degrees in the room.

 

Now notice that I said “fact” and not “truth.”  What’s the difference?  In a word…

 

Context!

 

A fact is a single, tangible, observable nugget of information. While it may be true in and of itself, it can also be manipulated or placed into a context where it is not true.

 

Truth, however, is the principle behind the fact that is true regardless of the context.

 

In other words, it is 68 degrees now, but I can change that by setting the thermostat higher or lower.  Or I can switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius. In that case, the temperature of the room remains constant, but it is no longer factual to say that it is 68 degrees.

 

So if the facts of the constant temperature in the room can be manipulated, and the perceptions and opinions about the temperature can be as numerous as the number of people in the room, then what is the truth?

 

The truth is that there is such a thing as heat.

 

There has always been.  There will always be.  Everyone everywhere must acknowledge this truth, regardless of perceptions and opinions about what feels hot or cold.

 

The key word in that last sentence was “feels.”  Truth is not something that you feel, like an emotion, a perception, an opinion or even a belief.  It is not even something you know, like a fact or an assumption.

 

Truth is what would be there whether you were there to perceive it or not.

 

Two plus two will not cease to equal four, regardless of how this makes you feel, or how many people think it ought to equal something other than four.

 

(Next, Part 3: Indisputable)