By Dr Henry Shepherd
Truth is an esteemed favourable word. Still very few practise the truth-truthfully. On the other hand, even mafia, bosses expect their members to be religiously truthful to them. Truth has been a favourite philosophical theme. There is no universally acceptable paraphrase to describe it. Truth means different things to different people. And is considered a function of circumstance and commitment. People resolve to practise truth but soon fail to cope with it, but those who succeed reap the harvest.
Alfred Adler holds “The truth is often a terrible weapon of aggression. It is possible to lie, and even to murder, for the truth” ; whereas William Blake felt: The truth that is told with bad intent beats all lies you can invent. Gospel Truth is frequently used to mean divine truth. Though the truth needs no classification yet several adjectives are suffixed with it. , e.g. half-truth, profound truth, absolute truth, the whole truth, bitter truth and new truth, etc.
Truth is eternal, and there is nothing like new truth until a lie is made to appear as truth. Often a brilliant lie is coherent and more appealing than the truth. But doctrines contradicting the word of God (The Holy Bible) surely lies. The truth can neither be created, fabricated, modified or improved upon nor it can be destroyed or contained forever. The evil forces are mighty scared of divine truth and try to suppress it. So the myth might be attractive but with time its ugliness gets exposed. Truth being unchangeable, needs no human support or favour for its sustenance.
According to Niels Bohr- The profound truth is recognized by the fact that the opposite of the truth is also a profound truth in contrast to trivialities where opposite is obviously absurd. Truth is stranger than friction. However, Herbert Agar says- ‘The truth that makes man free is for the most part the truth that men prefer not to hear’. Jesus related the truth with freedom from falsehood. He says-“If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciple. Then you will know the truth and truth will set you free”. In every age, people knew Jesus but a few believed him. He is a historical figure who is also called the Son of man, Son of God, Prophet, Greatest Teacher, and Divine healer gets. He was crucified, died on the cross and buried, but the tomb could not retain him, and he resurrected the third day. But his true identity is- The creator God of the universe. He has not only divided the human history into-BC and AD, but also divided the opinion of the world. He introduced himself as ‘Son of Man’, meaning –Son of God, who became man.
Jesus led a sinless life and said,”I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin”. All humans have sinned, and there is none who is blameless. Having a unique status of a man and that of God simultaneously, he sacrificed his life for sinners to liberate man from the slavery of sin. However, Jews expected him to give them political freedom, a trivial issue compared to freedom from slavery of sin. God came to the man because sinful men could neither reach him nor save themselves. Jesus neither came to establish a religion nor he promoted any religion. Religions are man-made means to reach God, but God offers to man righteousness. If a man could earn salvation by good deeds then, God has no role in the salvation of man. Therefore, the Bible says- Salvation is a gift of God and free, but spiritually blind people cannot receive it. The truth gives freedom from spiritual blindness. By believing and obeying Jesus one becomes a disciple of Jesus and a child of God whom people traditionally call –Christians.
Renowned, theologians and philosophers have been propagating a false notion that truth is the doctrine, an event, or mysterious wisdom unfathomable to man. They suggest piety to attain ‘Gyan,’ practice meditation, renunciation or sainthood as the way to reach God and to know mysteries of truth. However, Jesus claimed truth is a person; He said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father (God) accept through me”. Mortal man has been craving to see God and to have immortal life. Since salvation is eternal and a gift of God, man should have immortal or eternal life to have it. According to the Bible, the followings are truth – God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the word of God. God is one, but man can perceive three views of one God, and call Him – ‘Triune God’. God is the creator of the universe, sustainer and judge, and there is none beside Him. God sent his son Jesus not to condemn the world but to save the sinners. He did not destroy sinners but broke the power of sin.
King Solomon exhorts, “Buy the truth and do not sell it”. However the first man, Adam sold the invaluable truth for a forbidden fruit and lost the paradise. Judas sold the epitome of truth for thirty silver coins….and the process is ongoing. A big crowd is heading to hell whereas Jesus has already paid the price for them all on the cross, and his offer of the salvation is free. Without discrimination he gives the gift of salvation to the people of every nation, language, colour and creed. The myth has been propagated that Jesus is God of Christians. He is a secular God in the true sense. He says, “I am the light of the world”. God’s light is for saints and sinners both. He forgives sins because he has taken the punishment of our sins on himself and died on the cross.
People often come to Jesus for piece de resistance e.g. freedom from poverty, problems or diseases, etc. but he came to liberate humans spiritually by giving forgiveness of sins. A man is not free until ruled by sinful desires. Therefore, people living in falsehood try to marginalize the truth for it pricks their guilty conscience. There were two friends; one of them was a Christian but the other an atheist. Once while travelling they came across a gang of rowdy brawlers. The atheist friend pulled the leg of his friend. “How come your Christ preached love, but the hatred is still ruling the world” ? Christian friend waited for an opportune time to answer him. Soon they were passing through a village where some children were playing in dirty clothes. The Christian friend asked the atheist, “Soap has been discovered two thousand years back, how come millions of people still wear dirty linen? The atheist friend felt ashamed for the coherent but lofty comments he made.
Peter the disciple of Jesus admonishes – You, my brothers, were called to be free but did not use your freedom to indulge in sinful desires, rather serve one another. Truth is a blessed tree that produces virtues like Joy, Love, Peace, Kindness, Gentleness, Hope, Patience and Self-Control. The truth purifies the soul and promotes holiness, irrespective of man-made constraints and classification
Dr Henry Shepherd is former Pro Vice Chancellor Sam Higginbottom Institute of Ag Engg & Tech