In what was probably April of A.D. 33, Jesus of Nazareth stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea (sometimes spelled "Judaea"). According to the Gospel of John, Pilate found himself under pressure by an angry crowd outside his palace to crucify Jesus, an itinerant teacher who Jerusalem's religious leaders claimed was a blasphemer and insurrectionist. Pilate's questioning of Jesus, recorded in John 18, produced one of the Bible's most profound exchanges.
"Are you a king?" demanded Pilate of Jesus.
"You say rightly that I am a king," replied Jesus. "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."
"What is truth?" said Pilate as he left him and went outside to speak to the crowd.
In reading John's account, one can almost hear the sarcastic edge in Pilate's voice. Pilate's question comes from a hardened Roman official who has seen and heard much, but who likely understood little. As an educated Roman, Pilate would have been familiar with the writings of the best (and worst) of Greek and Roman philosophers, and would've been steeped in Roman polytheism. And while Judea was somewhat of a "backwater" posting, he nevertheless would've rubbed shoulders with the best and brightest of Roman society. Yet, in spite of all his experience and learning, Pontius Pilate did not (by his own cynical admission) understand what constituted the thing we call "truth."
This short Wattpad book, written with the busy reader in mind, tackles Pilate's 2000-year old question and those which stem from it, including:
· What is truth?
· Is it absolute or relative?
· And is truth even knowable?
· And if perhaps some truths can be known, is it only through science that such truths can be discovered?
· Does it even make sense to use the word "truth" when it comes to religion?
· Isn't it dangerous and/or discriminatory to pursue absolute truth (especially in the area of religion)?
As I said, this short book is written with a busy reader in mind. And it's written more for the layperson than the expert. If you're a graduate student or academic professional looking for a higher-level read, you may find this book a bit too much on the elementary side. Perhaps Truth Decay by Douglas Groothuis or the classic Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom are more up your alley. For the rest of you, though, I believe you'll find this book thought-provoking and beneficial.
Whenever someone, especially someone with a religious background, speaks of truth, people get on the defensive. Let me be the first to admit that truth claims, including and perhaps especially religious truth claims, have opened the door to a multitude of corruption and abuse in human history. Let me also acknowledge that far more people (whether we're talking about historical leaders or everyday people today) claim to know the truth than who actually have any kind of grasp of the real truth! The words "truth" and "true" are thrown around as casually as the word "love," so much so that people have lost a great deal of confidence in both the terms and the concepts behind those terms. Many people, like Pilate, have essentially given up trying to figure out the truth, particularly since they've seen so much hurt, confusion, and damage caused by those who claim to have it and/or by those who are endlessly on the hunt for it.
The fact is that, no matter how hard you try, you will never know the truth about every topic, situation, or person. So, while I disagree with Pilate's cynicism, I nevertheless agree we must be humble and realistic when it comes to subjects such as this.
Not only must we be humble in our personal quest for greater knowledge and wisdom, we must also respect the rights and dignity of others who are on their own intellectual or spiritual journeys. Living in a free and stable society requires that we welcome diversity of thought and tolerate perspectives, values, and opinions with which we disagree.
In that spirit, I am not writing this series to force anything on you. As the reader, you are in control of how you respond to the contents of this Wattpad book. You can accept or reject all or parts of this book. And I fully accept and respect your right to make that choice. I offer this book and series to those of you who agree all of us should be in the habit of continually learning and improving ourselves as best we can - spiritually, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. As King Solomon once wrote: "A wise [person] will hear and increase learning..." (Proverbs 1:5a).
Let us begin.
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