There was a game show when I was growing up called “To Tell the Truth”. Three people stood in front of a panel of judges. A biography of one of those three people was read. All three people acknowledged being the person described. Of course, only one person actually fit the bill. The other two pretended to be the person that the bio was being read about. Panelists got to ask questions to each contestant. Through those questions had to discover the person that matched the bio. The actual person had to tell the truth. Others would try to be convincingly untruthful. The imposters got a cash bonus for fooling the panelists. How can we tell who is telling the truth and who is trying to fool us?
When discussing what truth is. We can usually all agree it is founded in fact. When we discuss the truth about religion or social issues we often get to an impasse. We hear platitudes if that works for you good, or that is true for you but it is not true for me. The truth seems to become more subjective. Discussing truth claims can be very hard. We never want to offend anyone, especially when discussing such heartfelt and personal issues as someone’s beliefs. I have attempted to have these difficult conversations and frankly not done so well. Having been in sales for so long it is in my nature to want to overcome objections I tend to come on strong and confrontational. Which, by the way, is the exact opposite way we should approach people. Can truth be subjective?
According to Wikipedia “Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard...Truth is usually held to be opposite to falsehood.”
How can we know what truth is or when someone is telling the truth? It can often be blurred by our thoughts, emotions and popular culture thinking. There is also the work that must be done in order to verify truth claims. The panelists for To Tell the Truth needed to question each contestant and decide if they were telling the truth. They needed to decern if the answers made logical sense. That truth was not relative it was either true or false. They sought to understand each contestant. Could they back up their story with facts that in the panelist mind could verify whether that contestant was lying or telling the truth,
Turn the thought around “what is someone's motivation to lie?” The contestants on the show had that motivation. They got money to convince you they were someone they were not. People’s motivations can reveal some insight as to whether the person is telling the truth or has something to gain from the lie, as with the contestants. Behind each lie is usually some type of gain. I think much about understanding the truth will come down to our willingness to research the claim of someone and try to verify it. That research may be in questioning the person making the claims. It may also be us needing to verify the claims. I am reminded of Philippians 2:12 NIV ”--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” Maybe God wants us to think about Him and the evidence or facts He has laid before us.
People can and will twist facts into statements that may seem like facts. They may manipulate our emotions and cause us to rethink or doubt. It takes work on our side to think and decide if the statements have truth behind them that can hold up under scrutiny.
There can really only be truth or nontruth. There really is no grey. We must look at statements made and decide if that truth claim makes sense or not. Just like with the game show some people were clever enough to convince the panelist they were the person they weren't. That does not change the fact they were not. It just means the panelist was fooled.
We all need to uncover what is true. I have accepted a deepen conviction of my faith because I have looked at the facts around Christianity and decided it is true.
Author - Guy Yasika
Looking to profess my faith to anyone that will listen.