Truth matters in the real world. When John identifies Jesus Christ as the Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us,” he says, in the same breath, “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 ESV). The taking-on-flesh God was, himself, truth. By the same token, the apostle Paul warned about those who had “exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” (Rom. 1:25).
The Bible acknowledges nothing of a moral equivalence with reference to speaking the truth versus lying. And for the most part, Western societies get that. That is not to say that cultures founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic are marked by universal truth telling. But such cultures at least understand the difference between truth and lies. Generally, citizens of such nations affirm truth as a standard. Their very judicial, governmental, and commercial structures rely on it (a sobering reflection in 2014 … more on that below).
But this is not the case in all cultures. Susan Michael is International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) US Director. Her article, “Learning to Decipher the Rhetoric” compellingly demonstrates the confusion fomented by the refusal to acknowledge the objective value of truth.
Ms. Michael writes about a recent incident in which an Arab member of the Israeli parliament shouted at Prime Minister Netanyahu.
When MK Tibi shouted at Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu he exclaimed that his fellow Arab MK, Taleb Abu Arar, did not have water or electricity in his home because of Israeli discrimination. “There’s no water or electricity in his village,” Tibi shouted at Netanyahu. “No water, no electricity. Give him water and electricity and he’ll stop shouting.”
Ms. Michael went on to document that the claim was utterly without basis in fact. Not a shred of truth there. It was a case of using words for effect, in a framework in which truth was considered irrelevant.
MK Tibi learned from his former boss, Yasser Arafat, who shocked President Clinton during the Camp David Peace Talks when he denied that the Jewish Temple was ever in Jerusalem. Current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not any better. He not only denies the Holocaust happened, but stood in front of the United Nations last year and denied the historical and biblical ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.
It’s hard to read stories like this and not contemplate the erosion of truth in Western cultures. We’ve written about such concerns before.
There’s an obvious link between truth and freedom. Surely what Jesus said—“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”—applies to freedom at every level.
– Gary Brumbelow