Wrestling with “Manifold Witness”: the second in a series

“Jesus said to him ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen Him.’[Jn 14:6-7]”

Excellent! Now that we know that truth is a person, how shall we interpret that truth in one uniform, easily digestible, cross culturally transmittable language?

[I am blending the author’s ideas and my own below. Don’t blame Franke for my mistaken ability to articulate thoughts that don’t come naturally.]

Today, one feels that truth must be defended from post-modern relativism, the zeitgeist, if we can for a moment summon Hegel. Many assert that there is no truth apart from their own truth, that all truth is only truth as it relates to one’s one life situation. Big T Truth is only truth in as much as it explains a smaller t truth, otherwise, this thinking resolves, there is no truth, T or t. Franke quotes Merold Westfahl, who first notes that since all perspective is derived from a pre-determined set of perceptions, we have to look at relativism for what it is: an atheistic view of truth. Christians, however pluralistic, do not share that view. Ours is theistic. Our truth is embedded in a person, Jesus. Therefore, according to Westfahl, it’s not that truth doesn’t exist as the post-modern claims, “The truth is that there is Truth, but not for us, only for God [15].”

This makes a world of sense.

If I haven’t lost you thus far, allow me to try again. My theological orientation is such that I would be one of those prone to rail against a statement like this. But I don’t, and this is why: Truth emanates from Divinity. God is the locus of Truth. I don’t get God. I mean, I have the personification of Truth in Jesus, but I need Scripture, the Spirit, Traditions, and the communion of Saints to inform me who that Truth is on a daily basis. God is the center of Truth, not me. I do not get to determine the basis or origin of Truth at any point. I can share truth, but it is truth that is rooted in Truth. If that is true, then I am capable of sharing half truth and false truth that is rooted in the idea of Truth, a story I remember about Truth, or even Truth Himself.

It’s a good thing that we are not the center of the Truth Universe! Our humanness betrays us. We live in the tension of being broken/restored beings in a fallen/redeemed creation. Any truth that we traffic in is on loan from God. We are recipients and not donors. Truth is pre-existent. It is a land through which we trespass and interlope. “It is not ours,” says the Christian. And yet,”God uses human nature, language and speech to instruct us about the shape of our beliefs and the conduct of our lives [17].”

God is at work, revealing the Truth into us and through us. I’d love to hear the Scot’s Confession charge into the middle of this conversation. Jesus is the revelation of Truth to humanity. Jesus, and not humanity, is the fulfillment of Truth:

“Further, Christian teaching on Creation reminds us that although we are created in the image of God, we are finite and are qualitatively different from God [17].”

And that is why plurality is so predominantly displayed in our One Faith. Our vision is blurred, our perspective is not so keen, we are not so clever as to discern all that God is, though one day that won’t remain the case [cf. 2 Cor 3:18].

** This is the second in a series. To read the first part, go here.