By David Film
Some time ago I bought a dusty 20 volume set of Collier’s Book of Knowledge. Scanning some of the pages, I came across such headings as “Why is fire hot?”, and “Why doesn’t the Sun burn out?”. Complex equations to show how the nuclear principle of the Sun’s furnace is practically a perpetual machine. Subject after subject dealt with things that made the reader think. It whetted the appetite for knowledge, and thoughtful people thrive on such a thing. At least, they did at one time. I have spent years producing and writing articles, brochures, poems on thought-provoking subjects just trying to get people to stop and ask themselves a few questions. This article is an attempt to revive that “art” of thinking.
People from all walks of life, regardless of background, always act on a motive: some are more obvious than others. If people were honest with themselves, they would realize that most of us deceive ourselves by any one of a hundred different ways, usually in two categories:
1: We rationalize our thinking, and
2: We justify our actions.
If I were given a one-time opportunity to present a subject I have written on over the years, it would be what you are about to read here. It is so crucial, so strategic and so important that the very central verse in the entire Bible speaks on it.
Psalm 118 is the central chapter of the Bible, with 594 chapters before it and 594 chapters following. Psalm 118:8 (the central verse) says, “It is better to to trust (chacah) in the LORD (Jehovah) than to put confidence (batach) in man (’adam).” That’s five words in Hebrew, and “Jehovah” sits exactly in the center.
”And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) One’s quest for truth will also show his independence: independence from vestiges of the concepts, mentalities, and machinery surrounding him and attempting to control him — a system that is in the business of control, dependency, and putting him to sleep.
If you only know how to get in your car and turn the key, you are totally dependent on the car dealer, the mechanic, the manufacturer, or anyone else that knows what to do if it doesn’t start. If, however, you acquire some background of auto mechanics and how cars work (or why they don’t), you have become independent from those who want $50 an hour to fix it for you.
So it is with everything around us, including a knowledge of the truth. If you know how a magician does his tricks, he can no longer keep you in the dark. You can watch from the rear of the audience at his fascinating illusions and chuckle under your breath because you have an edge on the crowd. It’s the same with economics, politics, technology and practically every other aspect of life around us. It is also the same with things we can’t see: ways we think, opinions, philosophies and beliefs.
I cannot tell you what the truth is on any subject. My opinion is no better than the next person’s. What is more ironic is that he may have a list of degrees on the subject.
You know as well as I do that two people, both with Ph.D.s on some subject, may have come to totally opposite views on one idea. Someone with a lifetime of education may come to a certain position on some subject. Yet someone else with the same background of studying behind him may see it differently.
Along with this perspective of differing views of what ought to be facts, there are differing opinions on issues as well. Someone who is outspoken on moral issues in today’s society is viewed by others as a “spiritual bully.” Some subjects, such as abortion, cloning, euthanasia, and minimum age for parental consent, are heated topics almost universally. As you may have guessed, it amazes even the average person to see how differently people view these issues. Is there a “right and wrong” in viewpoints, or is it all simply a matter of opinion?
The age for sexual consent is traditionally 18. However, in some states it is as low as 16; in Canada, it’s 14; in the United Kingdom, 16; Spain’s age of consent is 13; and in the Netherlands, it’s 12. One might say it is all relative, but is there an underlying element that points to a general degradation in society which causes the age to become lower and lower? Perhaps we may find an answer to “What is truth?” from observations like this.
Then you find differing views of Biblical interpretation from people with backgrounds in Biblical studies in colleges and seminaries. Why? How can so many people from so many denominations and groups have totally differing views on doctrines and beliefs, yet all have had training in original languages and intense study in the Bible? “Their training is prejudicial,” you say, but they look at you as no less than arrogant.
Does Bible interpretation reflect a “moral thermometer” in society? Is it possible that those who are more “liberal” in their interpretation also more “liberal” in their thinking about morals as well? Is this a valid criterion?
Personally, I would not put much stock in a professor of higher learning who has “philosophical” views (which may well change tomorrow) with no regard for God or what He may think. By the same token, I would give someone a wide berth who doesn’t adhere to basic principles that have been proven to be true. But then, we find ourselves coming full circle with the question “What is truth?”
I’ll leave you with something which I sincerely hope will make you think.
The Test for True Love
Ulterior Motives . . .
operate in an area of ability
And appeal to an area of weakness.
True Love . . .
operates in an area of meekness
And appeals to an area of need.