Tag Archives: absolute truth

Genuine Truth Is as Real and Unchangeable as Gravity

I was scrolling through some news this morning and ran across a completely nonsensical “headline” in the midst of much “non-news.” Some popular actress or other generic celebrity (I don’t remember her name), the headline promised, would tell us all about “her truth.”

Great. I suppose that if we’re interested enough to read that article, we can logically look forward to some companion articles, some sequels. Maybe she can later tell us about “her gravity” or “her multiplication tables.” If truth itself is up for grabs—and why wouldn’t it be in a society where your very gender is dependent upon the day or your mood and not easily determined by your chromosomes and plumbing—are any of the “laws” of physics or mathematics really much more than suggestions?

If anybody wants to come talk about his or her gravity, I suppose we could climb up on my roof, have a nice visit, and discuss our deep and very individually unique feelings about gravity and how we’re feeling on that particular day about “up-ness” and “down-ness.” Or, forgive me if this is harsh, we could save a lot of time by holding hands, taking a deep breath, and leaping together off the roof. However we feel about the experience, I’m willing to go on record as believing in the absolute law of gravity which dictates this harsh but real truth: we will not fall up. And “open-minded” is not the first word that comes to mind when I think about someone who feels a need to try such to find out if gravity is a law still in effect on this particular morning.

It is not simply my opinion that gravity is still a law today. It is. This is a truth I can know without any need at all to resort to difficult or dangerous or painful testing. And, I suppose, if I wake up one morning with doubts about the truth and reality of gravity or the multiplication tables, professional help is available to help me come to terms both with reality and with whatever malady or foolishness is causing me to doubt it. In the long run—and even the short run, if I’m contemplating jumping off a roof to test gravity—coming to terms with what is inalterably true and real is much wiser, more helpful, and less painful than the alternative.

Of course, the point I’m trying to make here is true regarding genuine truth and laws that are real and incontrovertible laws. Physics. Mathematics. And I’d say, the Ten Commandments. No one can break those without consequence. I don’t remember if my brother had a clothes-pinned super hero towel-cape around his neck or not when he fell or jumped out of a redbud tree in our back yard when we were kids; I do remember that he broke his arm.

The problem comes when I get my opinions confused with incontrovertible laws, my opinions confused with immutable truth. I am not a super hero, and I am wrong and mistaken about many things, and this fact calls for some serious humility.

But I’m not so confused that you will ever hear me talking about “my truth.”

 

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

 

 


Reality Is Hard, But Denying Reality Is Harder

Dealing with reality can be hard, but it’s better than the alternative which looks easy and turns out to be much harder.

In Jesus’ famous parable of “The Two Builders,” he talks about two gents who both did the hard work of building houses. Yes, but only one, the “wise builder,” did the harder work of building his on the right foundation, one of rock; the “foolish builder” built on sand. Both houses looked fine—until “the rain came down, the streams came up, and the winds blew and beat against” those houses. The house built on rock stood the test; the house built on sand fell with a great crash. The moral of the story: don’t build a house in California anywhere near mud, fire, or flood!

No. The moral of the story, Jesus tells us, is that a life built on the truth of his words (he’s just finishing his “Sermon on the Mount,” Matthew 5-7) will be a strong life that will stand even in the midst of great trial.

Storms eventually assail us all. When they come, we discover the truth about the quality of our foundations. Was laying the foundation quick, cheap, and easy? Okay. Until the storm comes and, unable to stand the test, what we built falls quickly. The collapse is expensive and may even be fatal. Nothing about the crash is easy.

If only we’d listened! If only we’d invested in reality, built on truth, trusted the One who built this whole universe and tells us the truth about living in it in a way that is fulfilling and “successful” in the deepest sense.

Reality is hard. But denying it is ultimately much harder.

I once spent a little time—it felt like hours—a fathom or a few under a Grade 5 rapid called “Silverback” in the Nile River, near Jinja, Uganda. Among several problems one encounters after having parted company with a perfectly good raft and being cast into the depths is, literally, not knowing which way is up. The Nile neither knows nor cares about how you feel about that stark question, but this much is sure: not all answers are equally correct. Only one squares with reality. In this situation, the very sensible rule is that you not to try to swim toward the surface. Instead, you relax and trust the reality of two of this world’s unbreakable laws: the laws of gravity and of buoyancy. They are real and strong and your life jacket, obeying them, will invariably propel you upward if you’ll be still. Underwater in the Nile is not at all a good place to try to beat or deny the reality of the laws of physics.

It’s no skin off the “nose” of the law of gravity if we choose to ignore its reality, but it may be more than a little skin off of ours. Beliefs have consequences.

I once asked a class of smart kids this question: Does everyone have a right to his/her own beliefs? Of course, they answered, “Yes!” resoundingly.

Then I asked a follow-up question: “Is every belief of equal value?”

That’s when the class got interesting. No matter how undemocratic or unpopular it might be, the obvious answer is “no.”

Every person in this world is of immense value to our Creator, no matter his/her belief. But beliefs that are based on what squares with reality are, by their very nature, worth more than beliefs that fly in the face of reality.

C. S. Lewis once opined that we’d raised a generation too “mentally modest” to believe the multiplication tables.

And a few generations later, we’ve raised some folks who find even the reality of their own chromosomes, which no amount of surgery can truly alter, too confining.

You and I can discuss the various merits of preferring dark over milk chocolate or a blue pickup over a maroon one. You can choose differently than me on such questions and live in this universe quite successfully.

But truth and reality are deeper than tastes or trends. A person who sincerely wants two plus two to equal five is going to need either remedial math or a different universe; he’s not likely to be very happy in this one.

And if we want to live in a place where people who murder, lie, steal, covet, break faith, etc., find real fulfillment and genuine joy, well, wherever that place is, it’s not this world.

When our Creator tells us “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not,” he’s telling us the real truth about successful living in this very real world. He’s pointing us toward foundations that can stand up to reality.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Pope Francis’ Visit Points to the “Great Divide”

 

Grand Canyon 01

Pope Francis is here. By “here,” I mean, in the U.S.A.  By “is,” I mean right now as I write on the first day of autumn 2015. I pray that his visit is a blessing.

What? You’re surprised that a Protestant pastor would pray for the Pope? Why wouldn’t I? His leadership and decisions affect over a billion people. Yes, I am a Protestant, meaning basically that I “protest,” as in, “am not comfortable with,” some beliefs and practices of Roman Catholicism; but, by the way, I also “protest” plenty in the religious tradition in which I was born, and some folks there would certainly “protest” me. Forgive me if I smile and see some balance here.

Okay, back to the Pope.

I don’t think Pope Francis is planning to visit our Grand Canyon, but he’ll certainly be visiting face to face a far bigger canyon, one he deals with every day.

You see, one of the largest and deepest “divides” in our world centers on authority and the nature of truth. People on each side of that canyon seem almost completely incapable of understanding folks on the other side.

Most people, at least in the western world, and virtually all of the mainstream media, cannot understand how anyone, from the most common worshiper to the Pope himself, can believe in a standard of truth and authority that comes from beyond themselves and is not open to change, no matter how they feel about it.

Our society looks at opinion polls and the latest trends for what it believes. Even a majority of the Supreme Court justices seem to like that approach these days with the Constitution. It’s very nice if you find yourself and your own opinions in line with the most recent and most popular polls and trends.

This Pope is well liked. Polls show that most Americans in general have a “generally favorable” opinion of him. Me, too. (I could wish he’d say less about climate change and more about the slaughter of the unborn.)

The fact is, he and I, and anyone who believes that truth is rooted in an unchangeable God and not in polls and trends, stand on the same side of the canyon. We may disagree on which truths are unchangeable, which the Bible attests to, and what place church tradition plays. But, strange companions though we may be, folks like the Pope as head of the Catholic Church, and Pastor Billy Bob down at First Protestant Megaplastic Megachurch, and anyone who believes in a divine standard of truth, are on the opposite side of the canyon from folks who seem to think that as soon as an opinion poll shows that most folks would like the sun to rise in the west, or would prefer fifteen wives, then, well, let’s just make it so.

So the Pope is always assailed by folks who don’t understand why he doesn’t just modernize and get up to date with the majority of popular opinion since the majority is always right, right?

But the Pope, and many Christians, many who differ with him hugely on some points, share this belief in common: What is true, what is right, is rooted in an unchanging God. That which is most genuinely and deeply true in the universe God created will never change because He will never change. No matter what I think about it.

 

 

        You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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