The Pursuit of Truth

14 Aug

What is the pursuit of truth? Ask many people this question and chances are that you will get many responses. Some pursue truth through observing nature. Others pursue it through studying books. Some think they can find truth through science and other find it by digging deep inside their own souls. But there is one large block of people which would most likely agree on what it is. Within the church, most would say that the pursuit of truth is the study of the scriptures. I have to agree, to an extent, but while truth is found in the scriptures, it is not the summation of truth.

As I have written before, truth is a person, Jesus. He told his followers, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14.6). So if we are pursuing truth in its fullness, we must be pursuing Jesus. I would then define the pursuit of truth as: the focused pursuit of Jesus in EVERYTHING.

This means that when we read and study the Bible, we are actually pursuing Jesus in the pages. We are not merely observing disconnected lines of truth, we are reading the revelation of Jesus. If we look at the scriptures apart from Him, we are led to wrong conclusions about God, life, salvation and many other things. In John 5.39, Jesus observed that the Jews loved to “search the Scriptures” thinking that within them they would find “eternal life.” But then He pointed out that they were missing the point because the scriptures are “these which testify of Me.”

I heard many times in Bible college that “the New Testament is just commentary on the Old Testament.” I parroted that for a few years, but realize now that I was totally wrong. The truth is that the Old Testament was a progressive record of revelation pointing toward Jesus. Then Jesus–the Truth–came. The rest of the New Testament then is not commentary on the old, but commentary on Jesus. In Jesus we are able to see the “fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2.9). In Hebrews 1.3 we read that Jesus is the “express image” of the person of God. Colossians 2.17 points out that the OT scriptures were a “shadow of things to come” but the “substance is of Christ.” And what about the New Testament? The author of Hebrews points out that God has been speaking in these “last days by his Son” (Heb 1.2) and we all remember the rebuke God gave Peter where He said, “This is my beloved Son… hear HIM!” (Mat 17.5) So whether you are in the Old Testament or New Testament, the complete truth can ONLY be found by looking at it through Jesus. As I said before, the pursuit of truth is the pursuit of Jesus.

But then can we only find truth by pursuing Jesus in the Bible? The obvious answer is no! If we pursue Jesus in everything we study, everything we observe, everything we take part in, then we will find truth everywhere! If our focus is on Jesus, the lines between “sacred” and “secular” fall apart and we are able to find truth in everything. This is not to say that there are equal amounts of truth to be found in everything, but it is to say that because Jesus is the Creator of everything and author of all we see, we cannot help but find his fingerprints in everything.

We will never find complete truth apart from Jesus, whether inside or outside of the Bible. We need Jesus. He is our complete sustenance. Truth is found in the focused pursuit of Him.

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5 Responses to “The Pursuit of Truth”

  1. waltermellon August 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    I would appreciate if the author would actually describe what is truth before going on a discussion about truth. For one thing, I am not sure if I and this person are on the same page. It seems as if Christians speak in a foreign language, using English words.

    • r burgett August 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      Thanks for your honest reply. I understand where you are coming from, and chances are that you agree with me more than you might first think! This post was written by a follower of Jesus and was addressed primarily to Christians, which is why I did not make an effort to explain the concepts outside of Christian terms.

      Now, I must make a distinction in the truth I am speaking of from what are considered “true” facts. When I speak of truth, I am speaking of overarching truth from which the reality we live in is understood. This truth I speak of becomes our gauge to know what facts are true and which are not. So with this in mind, I might say that truth (to me) is the lens we look through to see life and reality. It is what shapes our worldview.

      But this kind of truth requires an anchor, it requires something solid to rest on. Classical philosophers have often seen the world and nature as the anchor of truth, and have based their ideas of truth and morality and life on what could be observed there. But in the 20th century, nature has rightly come to be seen and understood as anything but constant and reliable. This lead to the concept of relativism which held that there was no truth. But as time went on, people saw that even though they professed relativism, their lives were still guided by some sense of truth. This led to the postmodern movement, where people understand that a sort of truth exists, but it is anchored to each of us as individuals and therefore what is truth to one person can not by definition be truth to another person.

      Many Christians see their anchor as the Bible. They define and understand truth according to the words of the Bible, but anyone reading the Bible quickly finds that to make absolute statements about certain parts puts you in conflict with other parts. While I believe truth is in the Bible, my foundation or anchor for truth is more narrow than that. I see truth as growing out of the life and teachings of Jesus. It is in light of this that I judge truth and life and my reality.

      But now the important point must be made that if you anchor your truth in something other than Jesus, you will see life and reality different from me. Understanding this is important, because if one does not understand this truth they will try and force their beliefs on others. This is why it is absurd for a Christian to push certain moral or religious values on someone who is not a Christian. If somebody does not see the Bible or Jesus as their anchor for truth, then they have no reason to follow what are generally considered “Christian” values.

      So truth is in a way relative to each person, depending on what they anchor it to. I believe that my truth is correct because I believe my anchor, Jesus, is right. But if you see your own person as the best anchor of your truth, then you will understand life and truth differently from me.

      Does that make my view on truth make more sense?

  2. waltermellon August 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Ah, thanks for the explanation! Heh, I am a little weird. I am an agnostic atheist, by the way, and have never really given a thought about religion. Though recently, I have been reading the Bible and watching Christian-oriented Youtube videos (mostly music videos) and reading Wikipedia articles about Christianity and et cetera. I am a Biology major, hoping to graduate in the upcoming year, though recently I have grown a deep fascination and interest in Christianity. Not sure if the interest stems from the Christianity’s usual rhetoric in the evolution-creation controversy or those strange campus preachers on the Ohio State campus. Sometimes, it takes to understand the enemy’s point of view in order to defend your own.

    Sure, it makes sense. Truth is subjective. You believe that truth is from the Bible. It becomes part of your worldview and values and way of life. You believe that, as a non-Christian, I take truth from somewhere else, hence basing my worldview and values and way of life on somewhere else instead. Yes, I do agree with your conjecture that some people do not see truth in the Bible, so Christians who force their religious views on those people who do not see truth in the Bible would not work and are completely nonsensical. Yep, so far we agree. Yea!

    But have you considered that a person may pick up some insight and words of wisdom here and there, from different philosophical thinkers and from the Bible, so that the person may acquire a sense of diversity? “Christian values” are not unique to Christians alone. Since Christianity was an off-shoot of Judaism, it retains and cherishes the Jewish Bible in the form of the Old Testament. Christianity, compared to Judaism, is a relatively young religion.

    • r burgett August 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      I find it interesting that you would bring up truth from wider sources. That was in fact the reason I wrote the post in the first place. I have received criticism for being too broad in my study. Apparently many folks within the church have the belief that you should only read and listen to a narrow “approved” list of people. I heartily disagree, and this post was the reason why :-). I read and listen to an extremely wide range of authors and teachers because I love to have my horizons expanded. I can even watch or listen something “anti-Christian” and be able to find the truth within it. To limit truth to the pages of the Bible extremely limits my God. Jesus, who is God and I believe made this world (the method He used is irrelevant as far as I am concerned) left his fingerprints all throughout it. Every one of us is a unique creation made with particular abilities and interests and are full of life and potential, and it is for this reason that truth can be found EVERYWHERE regardless of what a person’s particular beliefs are. What saddens me is that so many people do not live to their full potential because they are weighed down by regret and guilt over things they have done to themselves and others. That is why Jesus came to the earth, to free us from the chains that we are holding onto and release us to live the lives we were created to live. You might enjoy my earlier post, “The Gospel of Eden” where I go into this a little more. If you ever have more questions as you seek truth, feel free to continue reading and commenting on my blog and I will be happy to engage your mind. If you ever have questions about anything Christian, you can also feel free to call me @ 484-553-0956. You sound like exactly the kind of person I enjoy conversing with :-).

  3. waltermellon August 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    So, does that mean you dislike conversing with other Christians because other Christians will only take the truth from the Bible rather than from elsewhere such as nature and the world?

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