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SIGNIFICANCE OF TRUTH

Theology deals with Truth—Truth that is the result of God’s Self-Revelation and that is to be identified with the substance of that Revelation. If there had been no Revelation there would be no human knowledge of Truth. Properly understood, therefore, the word “Truth” applies to God’s written Revelation, His Word. “Truth” (always capitalized) is used of the content of Scripture in order to specify the unique character of Scripture and to be able to distinguish properly the content of Scripture from the content of other books and studies. Of course, the Truth of the Scriptures is predicated on God who is Truth.

Theologically defined, therefore,
Truth speaks of the content of the Divine Revelation,
content that has been verbally recorded in the sixty-six books
that comprise the Biblical Canon.

It is this Truth—God and His Word—that  is the object of the theologian’s study; and the theologian seeks to understand, to correlate, and to present this Truth. The theologian studies what the philosopher is still searching for.

This does not deny the reality of truth (never capitalized), or knowledge, in other disciplines, for knowledge can be obtained in non-theological areas after careful study and research. It is possible, for instance, for there to be knowledge in history. Evaluation of pertinent documents (written records of the past) and oral tradition can often establish the certainty of a historical event; therefore, historical reality (knowledge or fact) can be accepted after thorough investigation. It is important to note, however, that the claims of historical investigation do not always correspond to historical reality; that is, historical statements are not always infallible. And they are not infallible because they are man-made.

Science, in the modern sense, deals with known, demonstrable fact, or knowledge; it is the observable that is investigated. The scientific method is used to establish the knowledge relative to certain elements or events. Scientific knowledge is established when the conclusion can be reached and affirmed by anyone capable of duplicating the process; therefore, scientific knowledge, is limited to that which is subject to verification.

To adopt the scientific method as the basis for establishing scientific knowledge is automatically to exclude certain areas of investigation from the domain of science, such as creation, miracles, demonic personalities, and the incarnation and the resurrection of the God-Man. That is, science, by its defined methodology, does not have the right to speak on these and similar topics. But to reject these and similar topics because they cannot be brought into the laboratory is to be extremely narrow-minded. Because science cannot verify the reality of these things does not bring into question their reality; but rather, it brings into question the capability of the scientific method. The quality of the love (or even its existence) of a mother cannot be measured or established through laboratory techniques, but who would deny its reality or its intensity? It must be admitted that the scientific method is limited. There are areas which it cannot investigate and upon which it must be silent—a difficult task for a scientist who believes himself to be the highest evolved species.

Scientific study is beneficial, but its limitations should be recognized. Science can only deal with secondary causation; only the believer who has accepted Revelation (see: Revelation) can know and speak of the Primary Causation. It must be understood that science by its very nature can only be interested in methodology and never with meaning. For science to speak authoritatively of that which is metaphysical means that science is speaking in a manner inconsistent with its professed methodology.

History and science most assuredly lead one to knowledge, but not to all knowledge. And neither of these disciplines, nor similar disciplines, can offer a vehicle for giving meaning to the knowledge that they yield. What establishes the purpose behind historical events? What gives meaning to scientific knowledge? What provides the guide for properly understanding and interpreting all knowledge? What gives coherence to all knowledge?

God’s Truth establishes the parameters for all knowledge.

The accumulation of knowledge (fact) without a proper point of reference is an exercise in futility. The knowledge that man comes to know must be integrated and properly correlated in order for that knowledge to be understood correctly and to be used appropriately. Knowledge increases; but how is it to be managed? How is it to be understood? How is it to be interpreted? What is its significance? Knowledge, or fact, does not exist in isolation. There is a point of reference that gives meaning to all individual bits of fact, and that point of reference is Truth, the Truth of God and His Word.

Theology deals with Truth—Truth that includes and is related to the knowledge of history, the knowledge of science, and the knowledge from other areas of study. Truth itself is knowledge; it is revealed and is, therefore, Perfect Knowledge. In contrast, the knowledge man accumulates is always fallible and is in need of a fixed reference point by which to critique his accumulation. The Truth of Scripture is greater than any other knowledge or all other knowledge and is the only vehicle by which any knowledge can be properly interpreted.

The Truth of Scripture includes knowledge that man cannot discover, and it is more expansive and profound than man’s knowledge (God’s Revelation gives meaning to man’s discoveries). Revealed Truth is related to knowledge that man comes to know and often incorporates that knowledge, but it is more encompassing than man’s knowledge (God is greater than man). Christian Truth, while incorporating human knowledge, is ultimately derived by Divine Revelation.

Without Truth, there is no comprehension of any knowledge.

From God comes Truth and from man comes knowledge, that is, Truth is revealed by God and knowledge is discovered by man. Man, with only knowledge, is without comprehension of the knowledge that he has discovered and is void of any understanding of the cosmic significance of that knowledge. Without Truth the accumulation of knowledge is ultimately an exercise in vanity.

Apart from God’s Truth, man’s knowledge has no meaning. Thus, man’s personal existence has no meaning, nor is there any insight into the ultimate value and destiny of the larger human family. However, with God’s Truth bringing interpretation and meaning to man’s knowledge, man has a basis for properly comprehending himself and the world, with its moral problem. Man’s knowledge is bankrupt without God’s Truth, for Truth is God’s interpretation of man’s knowledge! That interpretation is to be found in the sixty-six books of Scripture.

It is important to understand that knowledge, that which is discovered by man, and Truth, that which is revealed by God, are both from God—they do not contradict each other. Man, because of God’s endowment at creation, has the ability to discover knowledge. In fact, this ability constitutes part of the Dominion Mandate. But a proper understanding of the meaning of the knowledge man comes to know is impossible because of the effects of sin upon the understanding. Man cannot, in his fallen state, rise above knowledge or even grasp the metaphysical significance of knowledge. Man is a captive of his fallen mind!

But even fallen man can have knowledge. However, he has no capacity, apart from a work of grace in his life, to rise to the level of Truth. It is God’s grace that brings Truth to the mind and gives the capacity to grasp and to appreciate Truth. Grace embraces man with Truth and enables man to embrace Truth. And only after Truth is appropriated can man’s knowledge really be understood. Man cannot comprehend what he discovers until he comes to know and accept what God has revealed. Fact or knowledge (synonyms in this work, for knowledge is that which agrees with fact or reality or that which is consistent or harmonious with existing fact), is related to the physical or material: Truth, while not divorced from the material, is directly related to the spiritual and ultimately, when properly grasped, produces worship.

Truth explains the diversity and the unity of knowledge.

Philosophical systems seek to find a unifying theme for knowledge. Man is continually searching, and history records the futile searches. How can knowledge be unified? This search has been the passion of philosophy, and it has also been the frustration of philosophy. The answer is not within man, it is to be found outside of man.

All knowledge is unified when it is subsumed under Truth. Man’s knowledge finds meaning in God’s Truth! Apart from God’s Truth man’s knowledge has no meaning. Calvin wisely commented: “But lest anyone think a man truly blessed when he is credited with possessing great power to comprehend truth under the elements of this world, we should at once add that all this capacity to understand, with the understanding that follows upon it, is an unstable and transitory thing in God’s sight, when a solid foundation of truth [that is, “Truth”] does not underlie it” (Institutes, I, 275). The point is: man’s knowledge must have God's Truth, reason needs Revelation. Man must have God.

Augustine distinguished, as did Plato (Aquinas and Aristotle made no distinction), between science (scientiae) and wisdom (sapientia); science explored the world, while wisdom referred to the field of theology. This division, followed by the Reformers, must be maintained, but it also must be integrated. And the proper integration is to give sapientia priority over scientiae, Wisdom over science, Truth over knowledge, Revelation over reason, God over man. But the modern mind will not accept this relationship. Truth is significant because it provides the basis for understanding all that is.

Four points are vital for a proper comprehension of the relationship of Truth to knowledge:

1. Truth can only come by Revelation;

2. Truth is related to knowledge (facts or reality) in that Truth is a revealed, perfect knowledge that does not contradict the true knowledge of man that comes by human discovery;

3. Truth is larger and more encompassing than knowledge (God is greater than man);

4. Truth provides the proper basis for the interpretation of man’s knowledge (Truth is the essence of the worldview that is necessary to understand the world).

Truth, then, is metaphysical; it is of God not man.
It cannot, therefore, be interpreted functionally, instrumentally, or pragmatically.
Truth is not that which works;
Truth is that which has been revealed.

Man is not to adjust Truth, adapt Truth, update Truth, or seek to make Truth relevant; in fact, Truth as it is, is relevant. Man cannot improve it; it is as God wants it to be. He gave it, because Truth is what God is. Truth has an objective, absolute existence, as objective and absolute as God is; so Truth is not to be questioned but accepted. Truth is not to be critiqued, but Truth is to be believed. This is a bitter pill for twenty-first century man to swallow.

Truth is God’s interpretation of man’s knowledge!

Your truth reaches to the clouds.
Ps. 108:4


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