A Question of Truth

Subtitle: A word for these tempestuous tribalistic times when, it seems to me, that many (most?) of us (and honesty compels me to confess, at times, I) behave less in accord with the values, the virtues of comity and civility based on the conviction of the commonality of our humanity and the inherent necessity of laboring for the common good and more in keeping with which partisan side we’re on.(1)
quod est veritas (what is truth) christ and pilate, nikolai nikolaevich ge, 1890

Pilate asked, “So you are a king?”

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

After (Pilate) had said this, he went out.

– John 18.37-38a


If Truth with a capital “T”
(that is, in the words of that idiom from time immemorial:
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”)
can be described
as everything that can be known about God
and everything that can be known about what is existentially real
and what is ethically right,
then, by that definition,
it seems to me,
Truth is impossible for all or any one of us
to comprehend in its fullness.

And if we, as individuals, through the lenses of
our histories and memories,
our personal experiences and observations
inevitably form individual perspectives and opinions
about what is true, with a small “t”
(that is, our individual truths),
then, also inevitably, we, from time to time,
will disagree with one another about what is Truth with a capital “T”.

When, not if, this happens,
will we continue to listen to others with whom we disagree
and risk discovering something about Truth with a capital “T”
that we did not know
(which, of course, is to admit that we did not know,
that we could not have known,
that we never could have known
all Truth in the first – or at any number of – place),
or will we, like Pilate, turn and walk away?


(1) A Question of Truth, under the heading of second-thought-continued-rumination, is my poetic reflection on my previous sermon, Truth Matters, November 25, 2018

Illustration: (1890), Nikolai Nikolaevich Ge (1831-1894)

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