Christian Theology, Biblical Theology

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What is Truth - Pilate

What is truth as spoken by Pontius Pilate was a very profound statement. One scripture that is not given much attention is John 18:38 where Jesus said".....for this reason I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth..." and Pilate response was "What is truth". Now most of us would simply take this as Pilate making a pithy remark about Jesus' statement; however, I see this from a much deeper point of view. I see Jesus as the paradigm of Christian truth and Pilate representing the paradigm of secular truth. Pilate represents the best man can do to explain truth from a philosophical position limited to his humanity and within the domain of human reason.

Little is known of Pilate except that he was the Prefect of Judaea. I would assume for Pilate to have ascended to this position he was most likely a learned man and schooled in the philosophies of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates et al. This being the case gives us more pause to consider his statement "What is truth". Most philosophy of today is quite similar to that of Pilate's day; epistemology has not really progressed since the ancients definition of truth being a JTB (justified true belief). But even the ancients knew that truth expressed in these terms is circular, relative and subject to infinite regress. So for Pilate to ask "What is truth" was more of a remark about epistemology rather than an attack on Christ's comments. Understand that even if we hold that there is a supreme God, and He sees all things in an absolute, unbiased, and objective sense - and then further communicates this to us through His revelation; this is still subject to convention. As subject to convention, we are back in the vicious circle with the secular philosophical definition of truth. It is subject to convention because the view and belief of an object truth via revelation is a view or convention that can either be accepted or rejected.

Even though we Christians like to believe that we have a partial revelation of God and truth, it is our convention that we hold to, and will not be vindicated until we "cross the river" and meet the Lord at our final judgement. All truth, science, physics, life, is subject to and predicated on our presuppositions about existence, reality, God....So Pilate's question "What is truth" was a paradigm example of the shortcomings of philosophy and how after years of study one will walk away with more questions than answers.

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