How Do We Test For Truth

Michael Knudsen recently submitted the following challenge on the Truth Behind Reality post, “Freedom – Receiving Truth Well-Spoken”.

I’m grateful for the capacity each of us has to understand and discern truth for ourselves. A good question is, with all the lies surrounding us, what’s the best way to know what is true and what is not? How do we know when we are being deceived when the adversary can appear as an angel of light? Do we accept things just because they are long-standing traditions or because they are written? If we were confronted with something new, claiming to be truth, what is our process for testing it?

The answer to this question is critical.

Wholeheartedly believing or rejecting the validity of any particular something does not and cannot change the nature of that something; it is either valid or invalid, true or untrue. Ironically, our belief or disbelief consequently changes us, but reality, seen or unseen – ideals (religious or otherwise), physicality, facts, the nature of God, truth – does not rely on our permission for it to be valid or invalid, true or untrue; it is what it is whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not. It is for this reason that I chose to resubmit Michael’s comment as a separate post. Only truth stands the test of time, but we won’t unless we recognize and accept truth for what it is, as it is, whether it feels good or burns us to our core.

So how do we test for truth; what process can we rely on for discerning truth from untruth, both universally (individual uniqueness aside) and personally (according to our unique personality).

You may judiciously use scripture and/or philosophically employ logic and reason to back up your stance. Throughout this brainstorming session we must remember the point to Michael Knudsen’s challenge: What process do we use for testing against truth. I add to this challenge; what process do we use for testing against truth, whatever the area? We are looking for an irrefutable, testable, and repeatable real answer.

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About Todd Beal

I love truth and its facts. I love thought-provoking conversations that give both the other person and me a better understanding of a particular topic. I love to find answers to life-long questions; answers that let me see things for what they are instead of what they seem to be. I truly enjoy being in the midst of a group of people where all individuals are joining in, where everybody is enjoying the company of each other. I relax in the company of individuals who are competent yet humble. I like to catch myself doing or saying something ridiculous and then laugh my head off. I enjoy my church and being involved.
This entry was posted in By Title [H], Contradiction, Reality, Relativism, Truth and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to How Do We Test For Truth

  1. Todd,

    Another question for me, if Holy Scripture and the doctrine of revelation is both dogmatic and mystical, which I believe it is, then truth is much more than just a subjective relation. So would not theological doctrine matter directly, and be in real combination of dogma and the mystical reality of God, triune?

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Yes, it does, and I also believe that it does. However, if we take a step back and look at the full scope of truth, we immediately see that truth begins in Jesus Christ himself, but is manifested on a number of different levels, all the way down to everyday human thought (reason/logic, weighing the situation, etc). The reverse is also true: all non-contradictory human thought leads all the way back to the source of truth, Jesus. One end confirms the other.

      I know that the popular view is to separate God from philosophy, but because God is truth and philosophy/higher thought is the human attempt at intellectually understanding that truth, then we can not address one without addressing the other.

      Testing whether a human assertion is true or untrue (religious or otherwise) requires more than theological doctrine alone, it also requires the tools for thinking through that assertion: for example, “how do I spot a contradiction”, “without looking at every known variant, how do I know that this does not contain a contradiction”. The apostle Paul relied heavily on logically reasoning his way through doctrine. Yes, he initially understood that doctrine holistically, as personally delivered to him by Jesus Christ himself, but subsequently, he had to reason his way through the meaning and implications of that doctrine by employing his conscious mind. Truth supplied the meaning; thought confirmed them through logic, reason, and principle.

      So yes, at one end of the continuum, theological doctrine is the foremost important factor, but at the other end (everyday truth-oriented/fact-oriented thought) it is not directly applicable.

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      • We can also see that the Incarnation is much more than mental doctrine alone, but that the doctrine and dogma of even mystical truth, but that truth is also visible in Christ, who is Jesus…the eternal Image of the Father!

        “The Lord took on a human nature and came to us. He nevertheless remained hidden after this manifestation, or, yet more typically divine, in this manifestation itself, so that what was expressed remained mysterious and what was grasped remained unknown.” (Dionysius the Areopagite)

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        • Todd Beal says:

          Agreed. So how would we discern whether or not something of a nonreligious/non-spiritual nature contains a contradiction, strictly using the meaning (or doctrine) of Jesus’ incarnation as our only tool?

          I say this because there must be a central starting point for discerning truth at any level.

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  2. Lance Ponder says:

    //what’s the best way to know what is true and what is not?//

    Easy. Take the red pill.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      And what is that red pill?

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      • Lance Ponder says:

        “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” — Morpheus, The Matrix.

        “The Matrix is … The world has been pulled over your eyes” – Morpheus.

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        • Todd Beal says:

          So… the blue pill is accepting our desire to believe what we want to believe, what is comfortable to believe, albeit true, as it may seem.

          The red pill… is our wholehearted acceptance of the way things really are… reality. After which, all things become discernable – each separable from the other – in terms of absolute truth; apart from which, the understanding of all things are in terms of what we want, or do not want …to be true.

          Okay, so I silently ask us all: “What pill is currently in your system, the blue pill or the red pill.  If we are not willing to accept truth in all its forms – is my view on a particular issue personally biased; do I sense that I could be more right but am too loyal to what I currently believe; am I biasedly vested in my stance on… – then we never will find truth, much less discern it.

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      • Lance Ponder says:

        So, have you ever seen The Matrix? If you haven’t seen the movie you wouldn’t get the reference. Even if you have, you might not have recognized the powerful allegories. Here’s a link to one of the best explanations of the allegory of The Matrix:

        http://anna.xanga.com/711293386/item/

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        • Todd Beal says:

          I have seen it many times, which is why I made the last comment. It is the best modern allegory to the mindset of today’s numb culture. We are either in tune with truth, or we are deluded by personal bias, desire… the blue pill.

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        • pbus1 says:

          Wow! I found the information on this link to be quite interesting! I haven’t seen The Matrix yet, but I will in the near future! Today, I was telling my sister about this link, and when she was out and about, she stumbled across a copy of the movie, and she bought it for me. Her timing was impeccable! Thanks for sharing!

          Paulette

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          • Todd Beal says:

            I recommend the entire series, Paulette. Portions of certain installments get a bit raunchy at times, but with a quick fast forward you’ll arrive at good content in no time.

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            • pbus1 says:

              Todd,

              Thank you for the heads up. Apparently, you realize, that “raunchy” isn’t my cup of tea! I’ll keep the remote control nearby.

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          • Lance Ponder says:

            Its a great movie even if you don’t see the allegory off the bat. If you know what to look for going in its even more interesting. Enjoy!

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  3. Todd Beal says:

    Lance,

    A man recently declared to me that black is white. Does this pertain to Christ or not?

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    • Lance Ponder says:

      1 Tim 1:8-12 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers,10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

      Is 44:24b-25 I am the LORD, who made all things,
      who alone stretched out the heavens,
      who spread out the earth by myself,
      25 who frustrates the signs of liars
      and makes fools of diviners,
      who turns wise men back
      and makes their knowledge foolish

      Mt 5:36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. [words of Jesus]

      Col 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

      1 Jn 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

      ….Is that enough? 😀

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      • Todd Beal says:

        Lance, my point is not to minimize the authority of scripture. However, we will not win someone over, or show that his or her words are contradictory, simply by quoting a collection of scripture.  Scriptural admonition (or rebuke), one Christian to another, is both appropriate and affective, but to blindly do so with non-believers invites misunderstanding at best and unnecessary hostility at worst.

        For instance, if a stranger walks up to me and says, “Truth is, there is no truth”, I would destroy any chance of convincing this person otherwise if I were to immediately say, “All liars are liable to the law of God and you are therefore going to hell”, or any other statement of belligerence. Yes, technically those words are true, but they would also drive that person away from the cause of truth.

        Scripture is often best left for showing why our personal argument is valid, using our understanding of scripture as the internal basis for making that argument, and then outwardly proving it with scripture after the fact. That way not only do our words bear weight with the other person, but more importantly, so does the truth of scripture.

        All too often we try to force an understanding on others that we only arrived at after believing, only after the Holy Spirit showed us. We need to be careful.

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        • Lance Ponder says:

          //my point is not to minimize the authority of scripture. However, we will not win someone over, or show that his or her words are contradictory, simply by quoting a collection of scripture.//

          O. I didn’t see that question in your question. 😉

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  4. 1 John is profound! The only answer to any human situation, as well as spiritual is Christ Incarnate…note 1 John 4:1-6, the whole chapter really.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Fr. Robert,

      That is what I meant by judicious use of the scripture (end of post instructions) – thank you very much for this. Not only does this chapter establish substance for Christian doctrine, but simultaneously and separately is also pure reasoned truth, all by itself. We can work from this.  This gives a basis for solid thought, lending the spiritual aspect of truth to the practical.  This makes itself available to anyone with an open mind and a seeking heart.

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  5. Madison Woods says:

    I think an issue arises when one person says the matter is resonate with Christ, and another person says no, it isn’t. Even using God as the final measure is going to be subjective, depending on that viewer’s personal paradigm.

    In the end, it will boil down to an individual decision as to whether I am thinking under the influence of the blue pill, or the red pill (and I hope I always choose the red one).

    Granted, there are certain basic Truths that most people can agree upon…maybe. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ seems easy enough, but I’m sure someone somewhere disagrees that it is ALWAYS wrong to kill, and their measure of truth may stand in their own line of reasoning, but it won’t stand in mine. I may agree there are degrees of ‘wrong-ness’, depending on the situation, but it would still be wrong under any circumstance.

    It may come to this: If I think I am measuring Truth, but you think I am not, and we cannot ‘prove’ to each other the fault in the other’s reasoning, it is going to be very difficult to find agreement without agreeing to disagree.

    I’ll try to get over to the other post to see what you had written there today, but it might be a few days before I can. I have a water line to go repair now. As always, I enjoy the thought stimulating conversation you have going on here, Todd.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Goodness! Now that is a starting point!

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    • Lance Ponder says:

      Oh, we could definitely debate “thou shalt not kill”. For example, the hebrew word literally means murder, not simple kill. And what constitutes murder? What about self-defense, or the execution of justice? Yeah, that gets slippery. Then there’s issues like abortion, euthenasia, and the death penalty. And is that commandment limited to humans, or does it include animals?

      I don’t believe in situational ethics, however I do believe that objective definitions can be harder to clarify than we sometimes like to admit. There are many examples in scripture where God appears to present us with contradictions. Of course God does not vary in character – we vary in our understanding.

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  6. Todd Beal says:

    | O. I didn’t see that question in your question. |

    You’re right, Lance. That was not in my question and I apologize for my pseudo rebuttal.

    My original question was, “So how do you test for truth Lance?” You then asked, “Is the matter at hand in accord with Christ or not”, and I answered with “A man recently declared to me that black is white. Does this pertain to Christ or not?” You answered just as you should have, that being how you would personally test that statement against truth.

    I apologize to you and the other readers for inserting a stumbling block into this otherwise great brainstorming session.

    So back to my question, “A man recently declared to me that black is white. Does this pertain to Christ or not”; you gave a thorough answer based on scripture, but now let’s look at the question in someone else’s eyes.

    Is it not possible for Christian and non-Christian alike to say “black is white” (or some other at odds statement) without the matter pertaining to Christ? The statement may be a simple intellectual query or philosophical challenge, or even the result of errant understanding. If so, we would find ourselves strictly in the practical end of the truth continuum. Would this not require a set of tools aside from scripture – i.e. intellectual reasoning alone?

    If so, then if we were to prove that the “black is white” assertion is ultimately incorrect, scripture would authoritatively back up our argument.

    For instance, if someone were to say to me, “God does not exist”, I would say, “All historically documented societies either find/found a god to believe in or a god to reject. That alone tells me that God exists.” This is pure reason, and excludes scripture quotation from the argument. However, I could then authoritatively quote directly related scripture to solidify my argument. This would achieve two things: open that person’s mind to a new way of thinking and lend credence to the truth of scripture.

    What are your thoughts?

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  7. Lance Ponder says:

    Todd, you have an amazing skill for taking the balling and running to fun places. First off, its no stumbling block what you did. I simply didn’t think of your question that way. its a good question when framed like that because it does require a less ecclesiastical approach. I was going to say less blunt, but it wasn’t blunt, it was ecclesiastical. I figured I could give you that answer. LOL. Now, to other things…

    Black is white. Hmm. First, Christians make as many errors as non-Christians. The difference is that they’re forgiven. We can examine the creation debate to find plenty of examples of error for Christians and non-Christians alike. Few are intellectually honest when it comes to this highly charged topic. Is a day a day? Some say yes, some say no. And these are completely sincere people who believe with all their heart that they’re right. Being a Christian doesn’t make anyone free of error – if anything it makes their errors more apparent.

    As to the question of whether God exists, there are lots of ways of responding to that question. You can appeal to people in several ways, but to me I think the most potent appeal is to directly witness my own experience of God. I enjoy a good intellectual exercise on this subject, but there’s nothing more powerful than personal witness.

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  8. pbus1 says:

    Todd,

    It is obvious, that this conversation could go on indefinitely! It is my opinion, that because of the varying backgrounds, philosophies, past experiences, beliefs, and ultimately our faith or lack thereof, as well as several other variants, are what determines each individual’s “litmus test” for discerning TRUTH from UNTRUTH! If your purpose for initiating this conversation was to initiate a brainstorming session, wherein the participants would share their varying processes for accomplishing this feat, I say well done! You have definitely accomplished that. However, it appears that during this conversation, all participants will not agree on one and ONLY one true test for determining indisputable, authentic TRUTH! My litmus test for determining or discerning truth from untruth for example is, whether or not it lines up with the WORD of God which does not contradict itself in any way, but has stood the test of time, as ABSOLUTE TRUTH for centuries! I believe exactly what Jesus said, which is, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE! I agree with you and Fr. Robert, concerning the profound message found in I John! ABSOLUTE TRUTH! I realize there are others who are participating in, or observing this conversation, who may not agree with me, for whatever reasons they may have. That is my point.

    I would definitely not want to become a stone of stumbling, or a rock of offense, to anyone, which is why I believe that a study of apologetics, would be quite beneficial to those who are defending their belief, that ABSOLUTE TRUTH, stems from the WORD of God. We must know how to handle truth. Can you handle the truth? (By the way, that is a rhetorical question. :-))

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Paulette, while I agree with your comment (as in seeing it from your point of view), absolute truth manifests in a variety of ways, including the form of philosophical logic and reason that is in no way meant to confirm or attack God.

      For instance, if I, as a mathematician, am arguing in favor of a particular mathematical theorem, quoting scripture or arguing for the existence of God will in no way prove or disprove the validity of that theorem. However, at the same time, God’s absolute truth will ultimately manifest in the final practical proof of that theorem as irrefutable and unbreakable logic. In other words, absolute truth has many forms but always remains absolute, regardless of the application. Many a cosmologist has received Christ into his or her heart from seeing the irrefutable evidence of creation. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” This passage proves that one needs not first believe in God to ultimately believe in God. God made absolute truth available at all levels, and for that reason, all truth – whether strictly intellectual, strictly spiritual, or degrees in between – leads back unto God, and proves that God is truth.

      I personally heard a half-hour radio program on which the guest was previously a self-proclaimed atheist, and only through wholeheartedly seeking truth through logic itself – as God designed his mind to think in this way – he realized that truth exists, and that only through God-given faith could he personally know that truth. He is now a professing Christian.

      God uniquely designed our personality to understand truth from within a particular degree of his truth continuum – strictly spiritual to strictly practical (everyday thought). Within the past 14 years, I have found one thing that proves God’s ever present invitation to know him: God covers all his bases, and regardless of whether we are a disbelieving artist, logician, cosmologist, linguist, architect, master gardener, mechanic, or otherwise, God always meets us on our own level, right where we’re at. My personal understanding of life is by default through personality and relationships. I will not forget the moment when I first realized that the natural gender roles within marriage were patterned after Christ’s role as husband to the church. This occurred in 2004. I was not a believer before this, but God in his infinite mercy saw fit to reveal himself in the area I most understood. When I understood my marital gender role as a possible future husband (to whomever the woman), I immediately said, “God, I submit!” To this day, I feel a profound sense of undeserving when reliving that moment; so humbling.

      From that point forward, I have made it my personal mission and oath to meet whomever, wherever, at whatever level they currently experience and understand life.

      All truth leads back to God for those who are willing to wholeheartedly find him.

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  9. Todd Beal says:

    Within this comment, I am addressing both Madison Woods’ comment and Lance Ponder’s reply to that comment.

    Madison said the following:

    | It may come to this: If I think I am measuring Truth, but you think I am not, and we cannot ‘prove’ to each other the fault in the other’s reasoning, it is going to be very difficult to find agreement without agreeing to disagree. |

    Lance said the following:

    | I don’t believe in situational ethics, however I do believe that objective definitions can be harder to clarify than we sometimes like to admit. There are many examples in scripture where God appears to present us with contradictions. Of course God does not vary in character – we vary in our understanding. |

    First, we must establish that truth exists: If truth exists, it is wholly true and irrefutable. If it does not exist, its non-existence is not true, therefore truth exists and must exist to say it does not. This statement is true because the statement “Truth does not exist” states an absolute, and an absolute cannot use itself to prove itself non-existent. In other words, someone must use truth in the attempt to disprove truth. It is the ultimate self-resolving contradiction: in our attempt at disproving truth, truth proves itself.

    Second, regardless of where you, Madison, and you, Lance, are coming from you both arrived at complimentary truth-based conclusions. The synthesis being, we all vary in our understanding – ranging from blatantly to subtly – and without the means to convince each other of incorrect thinking, we remain at an impasse.

    So, the question remains; how do you and I arrive on the same set of premises and agree on the same set of tools for discerning truth eye-to-eye? Often times, because of our unique way of perceiving life, you and I disagree on the very things we actually agree upon most. However, whether we principally agree or not, the communication problem lies in misunderstanding each other’s personal style of thinking and speaking.

    For instance, I may ask a question based on my understanding of pre-established premises, but for you to give a contextually correct – or contextually incorrect – answer you must understand both the premises and my use of terminology just as well as, or better than, me. Rarely do we achieve this, but when we do, it binds us together in ways that defies understanding. We begin to think as one and act as one, and begin to tune ourselves to the betterment of everyone, not just our self or a select few. We begin to bind ourselves both individually and collectively to the one thing that is greater than us – truth.

    This is my goal for us, both for the current post and for the Truth Behind Reality blog; to establish agreed upon truth-based premises along with the necessary intellectual tools for understanding truth, and one another. In reality this will be the exception, not the rule, but nonetheless that is my hope behind every post and every comment.

    Third, we established that absolute truth exists; we identified the human communication problem; now we must establish the continuum of truth. Please bear with me.

    We can simplify our birds-eye view of truth by thinking of it as manifesting within a continuum. By that I mean, truth is, was, and always will be, eternally God – God is truth, truth is God – but characteristically, it also separately begins within God and ends within the practical realm of human thought, while still being absolute truth. In other words, truth that is true from within God is simultaneously true when manifested from within human thought. Truth is true wherever it manifests regardless of the form in which it manifests. We experience this when in close fellowship with God; we see this in the unalterable laws of nature; we see this in the unbreakable laws of philosophical reasoning and logic; we also see this in the unbreakable and incorruptible essence of unconditional love.

    However, depending on which part (“part” as a figure of speech) of the truth continuum we are addressing, certain terminology directly applies and certain terminology applies only secondarily. If I am addressing the awesome peace that accompanies my close fellowship with God, intellectual reasoning does apply when describing that peace to someone else, but only secondarily; and of course, I will alter that description based on the degree to which I perceive that other person’s fellowship with God. I will say right here; a person who is antagonistic toward God lacks the personal means to prove or disprove the peace that accompanies one’s fellowship with God.

    As Lance Ponder said, “As to the question of whether God exists, there are lots of ways of responding to that question. You can appeal to people in several ways, but to me I think the most potent appeal is to directly witness my own experience of God. I enjoy a good intellectual exercise on this subject, but there’s nothing more powerful than personal witness.”

    We can debate about God all day every day, but in the end, unless we know him through personal fellowship, intellectual conclusions exist only as reference to the meal, leaving us wanting for the exquisite taste of the meal itself.

    On the other hand if I am in the midst of an everyday-life intellectual debate, quoting scripture as a primary argument directly applies only when the proof of argument is both rooted in and explainable by that specific passage of scripture; otherwise, the relevance of quoting scripture becomes secondary to intellectual reasoning. Christians are famous for shortcutting the latter, and quite frankly, it makes the cause of truth look foolish and unobtainable.

    So, I want to begin the next leg of our answer to Michael Knudsen’s challenge by starting at the beginning. What testable, repeatable, irrefutable premise can we use for discerning truth from untruth when at the spiritual end of the truth continuum?

    I submit Fr. Robert’s contribution; I John, Chapter 4.

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  10. Lance Ponder says:

    Clarity.

    Agreement is pleasant, but what we need is clarity. Until we are clear on what we mean when we make a statement, clarity is dubious at best. Once we make ourselves clear it becomes possible to discuss something in a meaningful way. That doesn’t solve the question of truth, but it does make it possible to present our understanding of truth in such a way that we can interact effectively.

    I am not Truth. You are not Truth. Only Jesus is Truth. So, for us to pretend we are truth is a lie. If we lie the truth is not in us (1 Jn – wink to Fr. Robert). That said, if the Truth abides with us (by the Holy Spirit within us), then even though we ourselves are not truth, we can intimately know truth. After all, of what importance is it to know Truth if not to know Truth intimately and to benefit from that relationship?

    //We can debate about God all day every day, but in the end, unless we know him through personal fellowship, intellectual conclusions exist only as reference to the meal, leaving us wanting for the exquisite taste of the meal itself. //

    I absolutely treasure that statement, Todd. Thank you for putting it into words like that.

    ps – my blog today (http://divinelogos.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/biblical-inerrancy/) tackles the topic of biblical inerrancy, a subject right in line with this post and in part a result of this discussion.

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  11. Todd Beal says:

    For those interested in pursuing the current direction of this post, I highly recommend that you first visit Lance Ponder’s post “Biblical Inerrancy”.

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  12. Wow, I was responsible for starting this, but then I didn’t comment early and wasn’t subscribed, so I missed the boat. I’ll throw in my two cents now.

    TRUTH applies to everything true, verifiable by human senses and reason or not. Some of it has value to me, most of it does not. For example, the truth that Jesus Christ died to make atonement for the sins of mankind and was resurrected on the third day never to die again has intimate, personal meaning to me. The question of the existence of intelligent life on other planets probably has no bearing on my mortal life.

    When I look for sources of truth, I look for AUTHORITY. When studying scripture, I may need to take it one book at a time. Just because a council of men met 1500 years ago, decided which books were legitimate and called it “bible” doesn’t mean I have to accept everything between those covers at face value. What makes those men the determiners of what is canon and what is apocrypha when they make no claim to the gift of prophecy or the authority of apostleship? No, I will read each book and decide for myself if it speaks with God’s voice or not. How do I make this determination? Through the Gift of the Holy Ghost that I received at the time of my baptism.

    The Comforter is the guide to all that is true. In prayer it can guide me in all personal truths, such as whom I should marry, which job I should take, and how I should counsel a child in distress. Does this give me the right to tell others which way they should go? This depends on my authority. As a father, stewardship over my family is assumed. If I am called to the office of a priest or bishop, my right to disseminate truth expands. I believe that apostles and prophets are authorized ministers with worldwide authority (Eph. 4:11).

    I believe God gave us our feelings and to some extent our senses to help us detect truth through the Spirit. Powerful spiritual witnesses can result in tears in the eyes, burning in the heart, and enlightening of the mind. Falsehood, on the other hand, will bring a stupor of thought or general feeling of uneasiness to the tuned-in.

    If any of this sounds “far out”, it’s probably due to the tradition I’m coming from, which is not traditional but restorational. It’s been a very enjoyable conversation to read through. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m clicking over to Lance’s post.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      | I believe God gave us our feelings and to some extent our senses to help us detect truth through the Spirit. Powerful spiritual witnesses can result in tears in the eyes, burning in the heart, and enlightening of the mind. Falsehood, on the other hand, will bring a stupor of thought or general feeling of uneasiness to the tuned-in. |

      I agree, Michael. Most of us, however, don’t possess the humility to 100% facilitate truth. Our own biases get thrown into the mix, making us think we are tuned in when we are not. So, how do we know to check for self-deception when, at the time, our belief feels so right? History is full of so-called prophets and proclaimers – of all creeds and religions – saying they found truth, yet often they each contradict each other. Whose “truth” is true, and how can we rest assured that our understanding of truth is truth-based, not biased?

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      • WE must also, as we move along in our Christian faith learn to sense, and even see somewhat, and trust an intuitive truth & faith. We see this in a St. Paul, St. John, and also Mary the Mother of our Lord. (Note John 19:25-27)

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        • Todd Beal says:

          I agree, Fr. Robert. I have been learning that for about five years. There are some things that no book and no person can explain for us, but only the Holy Spirit, directly through an inner knowing. That seems like fluff to many people, but I have experienced it personally.

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          • Todd amen, I was blessed seeing and experiencing that as a Roman Catholic boy. I can remember how important I took my Catholic confirmation, and that was in the 5th grade in those days. It was way back then that the doctrine of the Trinity was so profound to me. I can see even more now God’s prevenient grace. I was drawn even before I could understand!

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      • That really is the question, isn’t it? The one that each of us has to answer for him or herself. I follow the leadership of certain mortals because I believe they fit the pattern established by Jesus himself when he put his hands on his chosen disciples and gave them the authority to preach the gospel to all nations. Are they “infallible”? No mortal is. I follow Christ, but without his immediate presence I need to look for someone to whom he has delegated his authority on earth. If he had wanted to personally lead us in all truth, he would have stayed here instead of ascending to heaven with a promise to return. Instead, he instituted the CHURCH, with apostles, pastors, evangelists, etc.

        Today, there are many Christian churches, because men have had two thousand years to reorganize things according to their own preferences and worship styles. As you imply, they can’t ALL be the repository of all truth because their doctrines contradict one another. Where is truth to be found in its fullness, or is it only available to the lonely seeker of truth who gathers it one tenet at a time from among the scattered shards of a thousand churches?

        For me, these answers were found via the Comforter, that Holy Spirit that confirms truth only after the trial of my faith. I had to DECIDE what I felt was true, then live by those principles (still without knowledge, only faith) until I received a confirmation of their truth through the Holy Ghost. At that point, faith blossoms into a surety, or knowledge. If the chosen principles were false, I would have eventually found them bitter and destructive. By this process I decided where to go to church, and who to look to as authorized servants.

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        • Todd Beal says:

          Michael, faith by definition is a surety and is never less than. Hebrews 11:01 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We can maybe sort of believe and possibly somewhat not, but we either have assurance (faith as given by God) or we do not. Anyone can believe anything but only God gives faith, the promissory note that something is the case.

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          • Todd – I do agree that faith and knowledge (conviction) are very closely related, but in my view are not exactly the same. Hence the need to “exercise” faith and “trust” in God. I think it is possible for us to trust and make a leap without knowing 100% for sure. Jesus talks about faith as a mustard seed, a seed the size of a pinprick that grows into a huge tree. Faith has to start as belief, then progress through various levels of trust until it becomes knowledge. I’ve commented before about my experience with the Law of Tithing. At first, giving up 10% of my income to the Church sounded like a bad idea. I started doing it only because I trusted what I read in the last chapter of Malachi and what others who had experience with the law told me. I took the “leap”, and after a time of trial began to see the benefits of that law in my life. Now, I no longer need to have faith to keep that law, because I KNOW it’s a true principle.

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            • Todd Beal says:

              Hebrews 11:01 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Hey Michael, I hope you did not think those are my words; I was quoting the definition of faith from Hebrews.  Faith is more than belief, as even Muslim murder/suicide bombers truly believe they will immediately go to heaven after their death.  I can believe in you; I can put my trust in you, but having faith in you is my rock-solid assurance that you will carry through.  More accurately said, faith is not knowledge, but foreknowledge of existence and outcome.  I can believe in a certain outcome, but that doesn’t make it so.  Faith is the promissory note that says, “It is a done deal.  Now go make it happen.”

              I can have faith, yet go through periods of not believing in the assurance that that faith provides.  I can believe, yet lack the faith to substantiate that belief.  Only God gives faith to those who trust in him, but anyone can believe in anything apart from faith.  Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “…For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  This is why James 2:20 says that faith apart from works is useless.  Faith is the promissory note wherein the value (or substance) is contingent on our cashing it in at the bank (acting upon that promise, or assuredness).  The ironic part is that if I don’t believe that that promissory note (faith) really represents the value printed on the front, I’ll not cash it in at the bank – I’ll not act upon it –  and therefore, never receive the value.

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          • Todd – I see what you’re saying. It took some study and thought, but I don’t think you and I are far off in our concepts of faith. It’s impossible to have faith in something that is not true, and I can’t
            through faith make something true that is not. That I can certainly agree with. I think what I was trying to say is that when we first learn of a truth, we may doubt it. It may be hard for us to
            comprehend or accept. It may require pre-faith “belief” for us to get on the road to receiving that gift from God. When we exercise that belief and trust in the source, we hope to gain that gift of faith from God. We pray, we study, we are enlightened, we do good deeds and begin to see the fruits of that belief. Then, if it be his will, God may grant the gift of faith and we’ll have the assurance of the truth of the principle.

            Am I still off base, in your view?

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          • Todd Beal says:

            Michael,

            Right on! Apart from belief, faith is useless, and apart from works (acting directly upon that faith) faith dies, and with it, belief (James 2:14-26). It is always God’s will for us to receive his provision of faith, but similarly to what you said, we cannot receive that faith until we first believe in the inevitable outcome of acting upon that faith.

            I particularly enjoyed your reasoning process, Michael; it helped me to resolve the necessary relationship between faith and belief. I really appreciate your willingness to work this thing through to the end. I have reached a new milestone through this conversation. Not only do I now better than ever concretely understand faith itself, but also, I now understand the requisite process for receiving, retaining, manifesting, and growing my capacity for faith.

            Faith begins with accepting Jesus into our heart through our belief and confession that he alone is God our savior; faith takes root. We retain that faith by believing in and acting upon the inevitability of its promise, and finally, increase our capacity to receive even greater faith by receiving and acting upon the promise that nothing is impossible for those that love God and obey his commands. The greatest of these being, (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV) [37] “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [39] …You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

            This is the Christian life, and apart from faith there is no life in Christ. Wow!

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        • Michael,

          I must confess that I have a real problem with the Mormon doctrine of the Trinity (tritheism)! I am not seeking a mere apologetic here, but as Todd said “faith” always gives witness, and somewhat apprehends. Note, John 4: 22-24. 🙂

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          • We must often times check our rationale and even our traditions. I know I did this with Roman Catholicism, and I could no longer accept the papal doctrines. Though I am certainly not anti-Roman. It did give me so much growing up. And I see Catholicism as certainly Christian, but not THE Church alone.

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          • Fr. Robert,

            I understand how you feel and hope that we can continue in friendly interaction and agree that God is good. I’d rather not use Truth Behind Reality as a forum to get into detail on this issue. However, much has been written on the subject, and if you’d like to know more about what we REALLY believe and why we can’t accept the Nicene Creed, Jeff Lindsay has an exhaustive web page on the subject of the “oneness of God” that you might find interesting:

            http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/oneness.shtml

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            • Michael,

              Thanks to be straight up about this! Sure we can continue to dialogue, and find agreement when we can. But certainly we are not on the same ground when it comes to the doctrine of God. The entire Christian theology however stands or falls with the divinity of Christ, and here nothing is more important to both Anglican and Orthodox Christianity than the Nicene “homoousios”. For “In Christ” we are confronted by God Himself, for Christ is ‘very God”! Though this is much more than mere creedal information, but the very centre of our Christian relationship to our God Triune, for Christ is the “image” of the invisible God. (Col.1:15) And indeed the Christian life is always relational to this reality…”For through Him we both (Jew & Gentile) have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph.2:18)

              For us the Trinitarian life of God is ontological, the Unity of the the “Economic” and “Immanent” Trinity. And it is here alone that the Incarnation of God In Christ is the isolation and connection for the text like John 14:6.

              Sorry, but sometimes we can but state Christian dogma. This is both classic Anglican and certain Orthodox doctrine & theology. Always Trinitarian! 🙂

              Thanks to share your link, I am always concerned to know and understand another’s position.

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    • Lance Ponder says:

      Jer 7:19 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

      Pr 28:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

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  13. Lance Ponder says:

    Truth is not a philosophical construct, nor is it knowledge, nor is it some tangible information. Truth is a person – Jesus Christ, the divine logos. 🙂

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  14. Lance Ponder says:

    Statement: 1 + 1 = 2.

    That’s true, right? Not always. A hydrogen atom has a mass of 1. If you put two together and form Helium, does the resulting Helium atom have a mass of 2? No, not exactly. The combined mass is slightly less. Does that make the original statement false? No, only false under certain conditions. But is the truth of the statement unbreakable? No. So which is it – true or false?

    Do we need to take this discussion into the Matrix? 😛

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    • With Barth and others (Florovsky here too) the Biblical way of knowing is not just reason and the discursive, important as that is, but also the so-called existential and the intuitive. Here the imagination (in Scripture image) serves to grasp the essence of reality, and the intuit of the immaterial universals, help embrace images – images which become tools of reason. This is also the Hebrew way, and the Hebrew-Greek Hellenism of St. Paul’s time and writings, (Gal. 4:4). Which in fact God uses for His way of revelation and truth. Indeed the mysteries of faith cannot be reduced to a precise, logical system. Scripture always has tensions, paradoxes and even seeming contradictions really inherent in any real Christian doctrine reconciled. But in the end Christ is always the Way, the Truth, and the Life.. in biblicism and theology. And also in the end, Christian theology is Mystical Theology! And here too is the place and blessing of the Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, and Orthodoxy. 🙂

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Lance, I’m a little perplexed at the apples and oranges statement, 1+1=2. You’re stating a comparison outside the context of my comment.

      But, if you insist: 1 atom + 1 atom = 2 atoms in count, not mass. You initially give the “1+1=2” equation under the combinatorial transformation premise (the combination of X and Y transforms into something new, i.e. a different element with different atomic masses due to the nuclear binding energy), not combinatorial addition (1 unit +1 unit = 2 units), but yet you argue your point as if you had. Your argument breaks down before it begins.

      In the context of combinatorial addition, 1 atom + 1 atom = 2 atoms. Here is where you double speak: you set up your argument in the context of combinatorial addition, yet you attempt to disprove the universality of the 1+1=2 equation through combinatorial transformation. These two methods are contextually dissimilar and therefore break down when substituting one for the other. 1+1=2 is true in all addition, but is not true within combinatorial transformations (i.e. chemistry).

      By the way, your hydrogen mass assignment is a little off. The average mass for a single hydrogen atom = 1.00794, not 1. The reason that chemistry does not follow the unit for unit equation of 1+1=2 is that, other than hydrogen-1 (which has only one proton), the nuclear binding energy pulls inward with such force that it reduces the mass of all atoms to less than the sum of the weights of its separated parts. This does not prove that 1+1=2 is universally inconsistent or that truth is not in it; it merely shows that it is not the right tool for the right job within this aspect of reality.

      Your example here is yet even stronger proof that truth is unbreakable, even when found within chemistry. Truth created the periodic table of elements and truth holds it together as an unbreakable law of nature. Whatever truth resides within, it is unbreakable.

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      • Lance Ponder says:

        Very good. You proved my point. LOL. Truth is unbreakable. But not always simple. Originally I meant 1 amu + 1 amu, but I didn’t say that. I’m very happy you saw through the screen tho. Sorry, but I was trying to bait out more. You did great.

        Atomic math, its quantum perfection, only proves the Truth which Paul wrote of in Romans 1 where he said God is revealed by His creation, if only we have eyes to see. I can see we’re going to have some great discussions when we get to the Creative Science chapters on physics. 😉

        Anyway, even the hard cold simple physical truths of physics are subject to the Divine Truth of Christ. Thanks for calling me on that. I’m actually quite happy!

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        • Todd Beal says:

          Yeah, Lance, that was a rewarding exercise. While researching the rebuttal, I found backup proof to one of my previous concepts: the whole always trumps the separate parts residing within the whole. In other words, the nuclear binding energy specific to a particular element creates a whole that necessarily alters the construct/behavior of its separated parts. In the elemental transformation, these separated parts cease life, as they once knew it, and begin anew, still retaining their individual character (personality), but are now harmoniously tuned to both the new master whole and to the neighboring separate parts that now also reside within that same whole. All parts for a given whole take on the character and personality of that whole, yet still remain as unique individuals.

          This speaks volumes about our relationship with Jesus. When we accept him into our heart, we begin anew. We retain our individuality (our uniqueness) but are transformed through his master tuning. We take on the completeness of his likeness and become a new creation.

          Now that is awesome!

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  15. Lance Ponder says:

    Todd, you talk about atomic physics like a Navy Nuke ET. Were you ever in Uncle Sam’s underwater yacht club?

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    • Todd Beal says:

      No, I never had “the privilege”, Lance (smiles). But in addition to studying chemistry and a bit of physics in high school, I spent many of my adult years studying anything I could get my hands on – see My Story.

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      • Lance Ponder says:

        I did read and reread your story. Wow. Funny thing, I had corrective PRK a couple of years ago. They missed the mark and did it a second time, which went too far the other way. Now I wear glasses (again). LOL.

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        • Todd Beal says:

          It is probably disconcerting but hopefully your life is not too troubled by it.

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          • Lance Ponder says:

            I’m a lot less blind than I used to be. LOL. I can read without glasses and legally I can drive, though I mostly wear glasses to be comfortable driving and doing activities where I need to see more than a few feet away with clarity. My left eye is almost 20/20, but my right is dialed in for close range vision. My right eye is dominant, and that’s where the rub comes in. If my left eye were dominant I could probably quit the glasses completely.

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          • Todd Beal says:

            It is odd that you say this because my left and right eye vie for dominance.  My left eye was dominant for about five years but now my right eye is taking charge.  My vision is always changing: small and continuous changes throughout the day, gradual and more pronounced changes month by month, and about-face changes year by year.  Sometimes my vision somewhat levels off to a new normal, but then off to the races they go.

            The problem is that I also think with my vision.  Even my concepts, I mentally work them through by envisioning them.  Unless my mind envisions what I am doing – walking, talking on the telephone, debating with you, formulating a concept, whatever –  I cannot understand it. The funny thing (well, not so funny) is that on a particularly bad eyesight day, I simultaneously find it difficult to envision my thoughts.  I get the job done, but I go through a lot of mental gymnastics just trying to compensate for a brain that will not properly order its’ own eyes. 

            The best part about this problem is that I am privileged to observe my very self as the condition progresses.  From an intellectual standpoint, it is quite interesting.  From an emotional standpoint – well, you read my story.

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