- Daniel Klassen
The End of Exploration
Everyone seems to be tired of searching for truth nowadays; there is no longer a drive to submit to ultimate truth, but rather the norm is now to be complacent with whatever 'truth' is most convenient. Wherever the claim is made that truth is the object of exploration, few are speaking of truth. They do not explore to find the truth to which they must submit, but rather explore within themselves to uncover the 'truth' in their experiences and existence. This is simply laziness.
For Christians, we know this laziness and complacency must have no part in our lives because we are to be built on the truth of the gospel. However, we are still affected by this way of thinking. We can become infected with the complacent bug, wishing only to have 'truth' which accommodates our experiences and existence.
This subject weighed heavily on the Apostle John's mind as he wrote his letters. First, to the elect lady and her children, he writes, "I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth" (2 John 4). Then, to Gaius, he similarly writes, "I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 3-4). In both cases, John's concern was over the order in which the Christians whom he oversaw espoused truth.
Objective or Subjective?
When it comes to the exploration of truth, there are two forms of truth relating to us. The first form is objective truth, and the second form is subjective truth.
For simple definitions, objective truth is a set truth; it never changes, and it is directed toward everyone. Objective truth is a canvassing truth residing over all people everywhere. Subjective truth, on the other hand, is a belonging truth. It is different for each person, usually determined by experience, emotion, culture, and upbringing. Subjective truth dies with you while objective truth lives forever.
As the exploration for truth commences, all explorers aim to find the truth - the universal, objective truth.
Many explorers start with the subjective areas of life (experience, emotions, culture, or upbringing) because these are most readily available for exploration. It does not take much effort to feel feeling and experience experiences, but this easy route inevitably ends in failure.
You experience life differently than I. Even if you and I were to experience the same event at the same time, your experience of the event would be slightly (or vastly) different than mine. Since your upbringing is yours and yours alone, you see the things of today in a different way than anyone else. No one in the history of existence has experienced life exactly as you have, and although you may not be alone experiencing life, you are alone in your experience. To make this abundantly clear, you cannot experience my existence just as I cannot experience yours. Therefore, to search through your own existence, shared experiences with others, common feelings, or surrounding culture is useless for finding objective truth.
Objective truth must come from something or someone outside our existence if it is to be applied to all. If this is the case, the only way to know truth is to have it revealed. We cannot create truth.
The End of Exploration
Building on this point, what must we do when we find truth? Disregard it? Subject ourselves to it? Or is there a happy medium?
From the start, we know there cannot be a happy medium. Because there are only two options (true or false), and they are absolutes, truth being true and false being false, it will always be one or the other. It is a contradiction to have an absolute thing both ways. Those who find truth must either reject it to go on living a lie, or they must adopt it as their ruler.
One interesting note: It is interesting to see those who reject the truth to go on claiming lies to be true. They bear witness to the necessity for truth to rule our lives. We are made for truth, and we are made to submit to it.
The objective truth we find in our exploration is to rule over us, direct, guide, and change us. In other words, the objective (universal) truth must become subjective (personal) truth; it must become ours, and we must possess it. That means, in the case of the apostle John, “walking in truth” simply means to make objective truth our own.