By Mark Callaghan
"I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". We're all familiar with the words of the oath taken in court. For Justice to be served, its first accountability has to be in the area of telling the truth. There are penalties for lying under oath.
We demand truth in advertising – less fine print, and more up-front information – so that what you see you actually get. Legislation has been tightened in recent years to ensure this. Watchdogs and ombudsmen are now considered a right – sadly a necessity too. But truth gives us greater security.
We have more truth in packaging now - better information about country of origin, ingredients, additives, preservatives and flavor and color enhancers. This is information we need to access in order to make more informed choices about what is best to buy and, more importantly, what to eat.
Truth - authentic, reliable, correct information – informs our daily decision making. Surprise! Oxford Dictionaries selected "post-truth" as 2016's international word of the year. They define "post-truth" as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."
Here, the "post-" prefix doesn't mean "after" so much as it implies "an atmosphere in which a notion_is irrelevant."_
Oxford University Press said, "the selection of 'post-truth' came after a spike of 2000 percent internet usage in 2016" - surely an indicator of uncertainty on an international scale.
Viscount Snowden is credited with the expression, "Truth is the first casualty of war", now also true of politics, as seen in the lead-up to the 2016 American Presidential elections. Both candidates brought accusations and counter accusations of lies and 'alternate realities'.
Truth should be a guarantee in a world of uncertainty. Pontius Pilate clearly hoped so when he famously asked Jesus, "What is truth?"
Where do you go when moral decisions are no longer made on the basis of evidence, but rather on basis of what may seem momentarily relevant in a sea of constant change?
In the West the Ten Commandments have served as a basis for life and law for over a thousand years – even though they have been too often subject to the shortcomings of our human-ness. Nevertheless, objective truth has been a benchmark in the West, at least until recent times. The question now is, "What can replace truth that can give us that same degree of certainty and security?"
For Christians, truth is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus says to his disciples in John chapter 14 and verse 6; "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
More than a philosophical idea, changing with fashion, He has stood tall as a trustworthy role model, teacher and as the One who gave His life for others. Truth begins with the fact that we have fallen short of God's benchmark. The apostle Paul in Romans chapter 3 and verse 23 says this; "We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
That word glory stands for the perfect, sinless character of God. This benchmark we call holiness, meaning that God is altogether different to us.
His answer was not more law, but a person and that person was and is Jesus. I know the peace and certainty which He has given me, and which I cannot explain; truth which has carried me through life for over 30 years. That much I know is true.•