33 Then Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you asking this on your own, or have others told you about Me?” 35 “I’m not a Jew, am I?” Pilate replied. “Your own nation and the chief priests handed You over to me. What have You done?” 36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”
37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked. “You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” 38 “What is truth?” said Pilate. (John 18:33-38)
As He is trying to decide what to do with Jesus, this question by Pilate is the same question that has been asked for a long long time. Socrates was known for challenging the truth of others, even though he couldn’t define it himself Plato believed that we could discover the Objective Truth through reason and insight. Aristotle further pushed this idea by defining both objective truth and objective falsehood. In more modern times, the question “What is Truth?” Has continued to be asked and answered throughout the history of Philosophical thinking. Over the past few generations though this shift in ideology around the concept of truth has progressed rather quickly, largely due to the rise of the internet and social networking.
The Baby boomers generation was the last of the purely modern era. This era saw truth much like that of Aristotle. Truth was Objective and we could determine things true or false based on our own reasoning skills. As GenX came about, this way of thinking shifted into what is known as post-modernism. Truth is still mostly objective, but we can now begin to question the reasoning that led to that truth, and we may discover that what we thought to be black and white, may actually be grey. The hippies began it, and the punks continued the movement from objective to subjective, until the rise of the internet and the millennials. The internet now made the entire world an open book. Different histories, different values, different religious beliefs, and different education systems, were all now readily available. This mixed with growing up in a media-crazed post-September 11th world, fueled the fire to see late millennials and Gen-Z take us one step further. Currently, we are seeing a post-post-modern world. All truth is subjective truth and those truths are also individually objective. What is true for me, may not be true for you, but both of our trues can now be true at the same time.
All of this is super complicated and even the timeline I just wrote out is debated as far as what is truly the dividing lines for these philosophical shifts. So let's look at some basic definitions for Truth and Lies.
Webster defines truth as:
the body of real things, events, and facts : ACTUALITY
the state of being the case : FACT
often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality
In greek, we have alétheia, which according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary means: truth, but not merely truth as spoken; truth of an idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness.
Something is interesting about this Greek definition out of Strongs. It primarily only deals with #3 of Webster’s definitions. Truth is not just facts or stats, but it goes much deeper to Spiritual Revelation to Man from God. This definition carries way more weight than just getting your facts straight, and instead carries the responsibility of handling the revelations of God.
Lies, on the other hand, have much simpler definitions:
Webster defines Lie as
to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
to create a false or misleading impression
In greek, we see the word, pseudos, meaning falsehood, untruth, or lie, and we still use this word today when we refer to something as a fake version of something.
A couple of things to notice about Lies. Lies are not just about being not fact but are about the intention to deceive or mislead someone away from Truth. What this means is that lies, much like the distinction between killing and murder, begin as a heart issue. This intentional misleading from the Truth is not the same thing as misspeaking or sharing false data that you may not have known was false. There is a fine distinction both in the definitions we looked at today, and Theologically between someone being a lier, and someone that also has been misled. This is what we are going to continue to unpack throughout the rest of this series.