What is the truth? No matter what the topic is, the truth routinely means different things to different people. The truth is actually a living, breathing creature. Though easily found, it can easily hide in plain sight. It can simultaneously be in our immediate vicinity, yet very far away. Although the truth should always be a blessing, it has been used by far too many people for far too long as a curse. The denial of truth inevitably leads to the denial of justice – which in turn initiates a fundamental denial of both happiness and self-fulfillment. When you really stop to consider it, we as God’s people face seas of truth all day, every day.
Please allow me to give you an example of what I mean. The Lord is the supreme Creator of the universe and everything that exists therein. That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If I stood on top of a platform in the middle of downtown and proudly declared that through a bullhorn, most people who heard me would agree with my statement. They would accept what I said as the truth. However, other people would step forward and proclaim that my truth is not the truth. Atheists would readily disagree with me because they don’t subscribe to the concept – or the existence – of God at all. Agnostics would quickly disagree with me because while they might accept the doctrine of a divine designer of all that lives, they do not believe that anyone can define who or what that divine designer is. So right there in the town square, we would have believers in Christ Jesus debating with non-believers arguing with semi-believers over whether or not Heavenly Father is real or a figment of societal imagination.
A closer look at this dilemma reveals the seas of truth that I mentioned previously. Noted academic scholar, Episcopal priest, composer, published author, and diversity trainer Eric H.F. Law theorizes that there are four, active truths at any given time: “ factual truth,  interpreted truth,  experienced truth, and  divine truth.” Father Law is also the founder and executive director of the Kaleidoscope Institute, the mission of which is to create inclusive and sustainable churches and communities. For more than 20 years, he has provided transformative and comprehensive training and resources for churches and ministries in all the major church denominations in the United States and Canada. I’m proud to say I know this noble man.
According to Father Law, those four truths are greatly influenced by many cultural components – such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, physical ability/condition, marital status, sexual orientation, educational level, socioeconomic status, geographic location, profession, language, citizenship status, political ideology, and system of faith. All those factors help to determine what you feel the truth is.
The factual truth is what actually happened. Factual truth is history, not his story. Example: Christopher Columbus did not discover America. Native Americans had been here long before his arrival. Columbus no more discovered America than I discovered Spain. However, history books in countless American schools perpetrated that lie for hundreds of years.
The interpreted truth is a facsimile of the factual truth. Interpreted truth contains enough of the factual truth to be somewhat credible on the surface, but cannot sustain any degree of scholarly review and/or investigation. Example: President Jimmy Carter was largely viewed by some Americans as an unintelligent, unsophisticated, country bumpkin from Plains, Georgia who was unworthy to enter the White House – let alone to occupy it as our nation’s 35th American President. Newspaper cartoonists made as much fun of Carter’s teeth as political reporters made fun of his Southern accent. Since leaving the Oval Office, however, few individuals on this planet have done more to advance the causes of diplomacy, peace, and global stewardship than Carter.
The experienced truth is the truth as lived by a particular person or group of people. Experienced truth is real and raw – so much so that people and/or groups who have not lived under the exact same conditions cannot begin to relate to those who have been so adversely affected. Example: No white person in America can know what it is truly like to live as a black person in America. Not for a nanosecond, a second, a minute, an hour, or a day. With all due respect, no white person in America can ever approximate what a black person in America endures professionally, educationally, financially, culturally, traditionally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. If you think you can, I’m telling you that you cannot. That, my friends, is the truth. For those of you who are trying mightily to convince yourselves that racism doesn’t exist, I have two words for you: Barack Obama. If the leader of the free world is treated the way he’s treated, imagine (if you dare) how the rest of the African-Americans must be treated.
The divine truth is what God thinks and feels. How does He view racism? Hatred? War? Poverty? Are any of these things pleasing in His sight? I say thee, nay.
Father Law makes an excellent point when he states “Listen if you find yourself perceived as powerful – and speak if you find yourself perceived as powerless.” It is notable that during his time on earth, Jesus – who is all-powerful – spent the majority of His time with the powerless: the poor, the sick, and the hungry.
As it relates to our great nation and the seas of truth we must navigate, we don’t have to be on different sides of the divide. Some beautiful day, all truths will be one truth – and that one truth will be divine truth. God’s truth. Isn’t it time we finally begin to see that?