Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What Is Truth?

Truth is usually thought of as "verifiable facts". Truth is something that can be examined, tested and proven to be well... true. The Gospel says Jesus is Truth. Anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time has heard their preacher say "Truth is a person... Jesus."

OK. Even I said that 30 years ago. No one ever asked me, "So... what does that mean?"
Its a good thing because I couldn't have told them what it means. It just sounds good, and, after all it IS "Bible".

So, what DOES it mean? I think I've finally discovered it.

"Truth" is aleithei (depends on how you Anglicize the Greek). It is actually what is called an "alpha privative", meaning you put an "a" in front of something and it makes it a "negative". Like "immortal" in Greek is actually "a-death", without death. I looked up the root of "truth" in Lidell and Scott Greek Lexicon, and it is "leithei". The first meaning of "leithei" is "forgetfullness" or "forgetting", the second meaning is "a place of oblivion in the lower world". So Truth, A-leithei, is "not forgottenness", or "not oblivion".

When I read this I immediately thought of Psalm 88 which I have read in Matins every Sunday for the past 10 years. It is a Psalm of the experience of hades, of forsakenness, of being abandoned by God: "Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deep...Shall Thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in that destruction? Shall Thy wonders be known in the dark, and Thy righteousness in the land of forgetfullness?...Lover and friend hast Thou put far from me and my aquaintence into darkness..."

Truth is the antithesis of that experience. Truth saves us, but from what and how? Truth is Christ. Christ unites us to God in whom there is no darkness. God is light. Christ unites is to God in whom we fully know and are fully known, not forgotten. Christ unites us to God in whom we have life, His Spirit gives life and abundantly, not death and destruction. Christ unites us to God in whom we are healed (in Greek the root meaning of salvation is "healing"). Christ unites us to all humanity and creation in perfect union in His body, lovers and friends are joined to us in the perfect love of the Trinity.

Truth is a Person. Truth is Christ, the God-man who united our fallen nature to the nature of God in His person. The Spirit of Truth unites the human being to Christ in whom are all the blessings of union, communion, intimacy, knowledge, and love. Apart from Truth, there is only oblivion, corruption, despair, illusion, lies and forgottenness. He is the Truth. He is not merely an empirical "fact", He is a Savior.


Mimi said...

I really like this, thank you s-p.

Simply Victoria said...

a good post. thanks.

Xan Bozzo said...

Well... this was posted over a year ago, but since you were kind enough to provide the link, I thought it worthwhile to read and comment on it.

I find myself predominantly in agreement with much of what you have to say. I do believe truth is "fact" (as opposed to just empirical fact; for I believe there is metaphysical "fact, etc); and I do believe Christ is Truth.

Truth is reality, sin is unreality (to use a common word from Merton); Truth is selflessness, illusion is selfishness. But... no need to go on, on this I think we agree; apart from some minor (though probably not so minor) setbacks. :)

- Xan