“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
I find this “supposed truth” to be repulsive and common. How could anyone be happy in life believing it? I cannot imagine!
I grew up like most kids–playing with trucks and action figures in my front yard, riding my bike, going to the swimming pool, etc. Truth wasn’t something I thought a whole lot about, except to keep me out of trouble (and, thus, avoid punishment).
But, once I grew up and started to evaluate life and death and purpose and meaning, suddenly truth became everything to me. It became all consuming!
My hunger for truth sent me on a mission to find it. I began to eat through every book I could find that looked like a promising place to find what I was looking for. I read and read and read and read. Some days, I would read 8 hours straight! I found much of what I read to be nebulous and somewhat unclear regarding truth. It just didn’t feel solid and reliable. There were still so many questions left at the end. But, I felt that I was on the way. I felt I was finding nuggets of truth from time to time. So, my journey began to develop on my path toward truth. If you were to convince me that there was no truth to be found, I think I would have rather died.
“…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
― Jesus, John 8:32 in the Bible
Jesus, Himself, promised that there WAS, INDEED, truth to be found. In fact, He even claimed to BE THAT TRUTH. As a kid, I didn’t know who Jesus was. My parents didn’t teach me. Nobody did. As I began my journey to find truth, I felt that Jesus was interesting as a person (much like Gandhi, Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh, and other spiritual people) but I didn’t give Him much thought really.
But, after sifting through stacks of books, I was eventually introduced to Jesus in the Bible. As I read and understood what the Bible was really about, I began to realize I was finding what I was looking for all along. For the first time, I felt I had found something that was solid and reliable.
Unfortunately, Christianity has kept many sincere people from understanding the Bible and Jesus. It almost prevented me as well. But, I kept going. The more I understood about the Bible, the more I was sure it was truth. It became my sole source of truth-seeking. I no longer wanted to waste my time wading through all those other books that seemed to only have sparse pieces of truth in them, mixed with a lot of error and a lot of fluff.
But, I have recently come to a difficult spot in my journey. Part of believing Bible truth is following Bible truth. And Bible truth tells us that being a part of a body of believers is according to God’s will. However, I’m struggling with that. Over the years, I have been a part of a church. I have attended many churches. I have found something to be very confusing and threatening to me. Within the Christian church, you have many opinions and interpretations. There are many denominations all believing the Bible differently. Even within denominations, the members seem to all believe differently. Jesus says He is THE TRUTH. But, how can all his believers have a different interpretation of truth–and, thus, a different Jesus!!?
I’ve studied with Pastors from other denominations many times. I’ve studied with church members from other churches. I’ve studied with members of my own church. The one thing I’ve found is that within Christianity, there is not ONE JESUS! There are many manipulations and interpretations of Him. Worse than that, almost everyone I talk to seems to be okay with that! They have it settled in their minds that it’s fine if everyone has their own interpretation. Really! Then, I guess Nietzsche was right, “there are no facts, only interpretations.”
“Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” John 18:37, 38
Nietzsche and Pontius Pilate are kindred spirits. Both do not believe in truth. But, those who are “of the truth” hear Jesus’ voice of truth ringing loudly. They do not believe Jesus is open to interpretation. They believe in Jesus and truth.
I’ve watched closely and found something to be true. The reason there are many interpretations is due to selfish preferences. People want to manipulate truth to better fit their own selfish preferences. I’ve seen it on many occasions. The truth can be clear as day, but someone will muddy the truth because they don’t prefer it. And it can get muddied expertly! Scholars are amazingly cunning at muddying the waters! They can muddy it from every angle–so much so that you begin to believe they may be correct. The problem is that when you have known something to be true and then you get wrestled into questioning that truth by intellectual manipulation, that truth becomes obscure. As a result, the church is now PACKED FULL of obscurities and there seems to be NO MORE TRUTH. Nietzsche and Pilate have won! Satan, the chief of scholars has done his dirty work in convincing us all of ONE TRUTH ALONE–THAT THERE IS NO ABSOLUTE TRUTH!
If you don’t believe me, look around. Is there unity in truth among your fellow church members? Is there unity in truth among the denominations in your city? Are people seeking the church as a source of truth anymore? Are they finding it?
I want to give an example of how preference plays a big part in interpretation. Early on in my quest for truth, I came upon a subject I wanted to understand better. It had to do with the question of whether or not women should be Pastors/Elders in the church. I did a careful study of the subject from the Bible. I felt I was able to make sense of the issue and that I had found truth on the topic. Years later, a 400 page book was written by scholars in my church on the same subject. After wading through all those pages, I was finding myself confused. Was what I had previously believed wrong? Then, another 400 page book was written refuting the other book. This second book was also convincing in its arguments. Now, the whole thing was even more confusing. They both seemed to have logical and well-thought out points. They both were extremely confident they were correct. But, I don’t believe they both could be. There is only one truth!
After some time away from my study on the issue, I sat back and just thought about those two books. One side seemed to have an agenda that was subtly hidden beneath the surface of their writing. If you looked closely, you could tell that all of their positions were designed as proofs to a personal preference. They were trying desperately to prove what they wanted to be truth. The other side seemed to be more objective. They appeared to be more interested in simply trying to extract what the Bible was saying rather than trying to prove a preference. It was subtle, but there was a difference. My point is, there is truth but deception is extremely crafty. And it’s not always easy to recognize.
I believe that Satan is not primarily trying to get us to believe lies as much as he may be trying to get us to believe there is no longer absolute truth. He wants us to believe that it all comes down to “interpretation”, after all, “what is truth”?