What is Truth?
Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, AD 26-37, would have made a good university
professor or politician in the present environment with his evasive question in the
presence of Jesus, What is truth? If youre listening to graduation speeches these days
youre probably hearing something like this: Truth is relative to the individual or the
situation nobody has THE truth. As might be expected, many university students
come away from their education with the same relativistic attitude toward truth. As
Sophist Protagoras taught quoted by Plato: The way things appear to me, in that way
they exist for me, and the way things appear to you, in that way they exist for you. For
Plato, however, Protagoras philosophy was illogical because both his view and
Protagorass view would have to be true at the same time a logical contradiction since
truth is singular. Truth cannot be both A and non-A at the same time.
Harvards founders in 1636 would not recognize the relativistic academic climate of
today. Their motto, Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae. (Truth for Christ and the Church),
would be considered the height of intolerance and bigotry at the very university they
brought into being. Perhaps thats why Veritasremains Harvards motto without
reference to Christ and the Church. This reference would be unacceptable in todays
relativistic culture. Harvards Rules and Precepts in 1642 included: Let every student be
plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of life and studies
is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3 . They unashamedly
acknowledged the truth of Colossians 2:3: Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge. Would to God that Harvard could have remained true to its
founding motto and principles!
Today, academia may tip its hat to the importance of Jesus Christ in history and may
even patronizingly admit he was a great teacher. But there is a great reticence to admit
He was who He claimed to be. It just wouldnt fit the relativistic mold of today.
C. S. Lewis in his series of talks broadcast by the BBC during World War II (contained in
his book, Mere Christianity, outlined our choices: either Jesus Christ was a liar, or He
was a lunatic, or He was what He claimed to be the Truth. Straddling the fence,
relativism, is intellectually illogical and disingenuous.