What is truth?

The Roman governor Pontius Pilate asked Jesus that question in John 18:38 after Jesus said he had come into the world to testify to the truth and that everyone on the side of truth listened to him.

The existence or non-existence of truth is often debated, but the Revs. William Mark Bristow and Landon Coleman say it is an issue of perfect clarity.

“Jesus said, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,’” said the Rev. Bristow, pastor of Parker Heights Christian Church in Odessa and Grace Fellowship in Monahans. “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, so he is the embodiment of truth.

“That takes all the guesswork out of it.”

Like Pilate, Bristow said, anyone can have an opinion about what is true or not.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s so,” he said. “Pilate was saying, ‘What’s true for you is not true for me and vice versa.

“It goes way back, but you can’t find absolute truth outside the Word of God. People can say this, that or the other. It still comes back to what you see in the text.”

The Rev. Coleman, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, said the first chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome is highly instructive.

“Paul’s fundamental claim in Romans One is that the Creator God has revealed the truth of his existence and his character in the created order,” Coleman said. “Everything from the predictability of chemical reactions to the function of living cells to the vastness of the universe and even to the consistency of math points to the truth that there is a God who designed and created the universe.

“Can human beings know objective, unchanging absolute truth? Of course! We can know truth from God’s self-revelation in Scripture, but we can also know truth from God’s self-revelation in creation.”

He said there can be definitive knowledge about such things as whether or not a person has cancer, the balance of a bank account, which team scored more points in a football game, the measure of pi, the speed of light and the gravitational constant.

“Of course many of the educated elite assure that we cannot know absolute truth about anything,” he said. “The proponents of intersectionality tell us that we can only know the limited truth of our tribe or group.

“The post-modern theorists insist that the only truth to be embraced is the truth that there is no absolute truth. It’s all a bunch of gobbledygook that reveals the futile thinking and darkened hearts of those who have willingly and defiantly suppressed the truth about God that is plain to them (Romans 1:21).”

Coleman said contemporary Americans “live in an anti-truth age,” but the question is not new.

“Paul’s fundamental claim in Romans 1:19-20 is that God has revealed the truth about himself in the created order,” he said. “But Paul’s initial claim in Romans 1:18 is that apart from God’s intervening grace, all people reject and suppress the truth about God.

“His conclusion is two-fold: one, God’s wrath is even now being revealed from Heaven against those who suppress the truth that God has revealed (Romans 1:18). And two, human beings are without excuse (Romans 1:20).”

Coleman said that what follows in Romans 1:24-32 is a description of moral, relational, social and cultural chaos.

“This chaos is both the result of God’s wrath which is being poured out and the cause of God’s wrath which will be poured out in the final judgment,” he said. “In 21st century America, we find ourselves living in a culture that is remarkably similar to the one Paul describes.

“Rather than simply recognize our folly and error, we plunge on into the darkness. Rather than recognize that there is an inescapable moral structure to life on earth, we prefer to do everything in our power to mitigate and remove the consequences of our folly.

“Currently the vast majority of our cultural energy is spent on removing the consequences of sin so that we can press on in stubborn, stiff-necked rebellion against God. As a people we would be well served by a return to sanity, a return to truth and a return to God.”