John 18:33-38 — Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.
This brief exchange shows the reality that Jesus' words are, at best, confusing to those who have already rejected the idea of truth.
Imagine for a second a person who believes the only reason ISIS exists is as a cover-up US government operation intended to force American to become a dictatorship. Could anyone convince them otherwise? What if another person was just as adamant that ISIS is really just a bunch of run-of-the-mill Muslims that are simply following the Qur’an and no other factors whatsoever are involved in their actions other than attempting to further Islam. Could they convince anyone of their idea? Throw a 3rd idea in the mix of someone who is absolutely certain the ISIS can only exist because of the reality of the violence of Islam, but that it is not that factor alone. It is also related to their sense of victimhood identity in which they cannot see any internal flaws in Islam itself, but are taught that all of their problems are caused by outsiders from the West. These people all have something in common: all have made up their minds that their personal perspective about an extremely complex issue is what they will stick to come what may, even without any one of them truly having a full comprehension into the situation.
Ideas are powerful, and the ideas people believe determine how they will live. Ask a member of ISIS, for example, what they believe in and why they act as they do. Ideas shape people, families, cultures, and civilizations. But are all ideas equally valid?
Nowadays, everybody has an opinion. Social media (Facebook, etc.) champions the idea that you have a voice which deserves to be heard, even if you have not read the article you are commenting on, and even if you have not actually studied Primary Source material, and even if you are just sharing your opinions, you feel as though what you have to say should be just as valuable, and has just as much claim to truth as anybody else that comments, even if your ideas don’t stand up to logical scrutiny, and even if you’re proven wrong “well, that is just what you think…”
We have a problem as people in America right now. We are so inundated with information that we have forgotten what truth is amidst the flood of ideas in the market place of intellectual exchange (the internet).
At most colleges, impressionable young people are taught there is no such thing as “transcendent truth.” Consequently, any point of view is encouraged as though they're equally valid since Humanism says that by all of us working together we can achieve perfection as a species. “We can figure it all out if we just put our heads together.”
Of course, not all ideas are equal. We have to have a way to measure, to test, to decide which ideas are objectively better or worse than others. In short, we must judge the ideas that exist in the world today. Our culture hates the idea of objective truth, that some things are a certain way no matter what anyone, including myself things about them. To avoid this uncomfortable reality, our world does everything it can to say, “don’t judge others,” or even “who are you to determine what is ‘true’ for someone else! Let them decide to believe whatever they want to believe. You have no right to judge their ideas.” But even “not judging” is judging in a different way, it is judging that all are equal, but such a judgment ultimately becomes self-contradictory upon inspection. So we are brought back full circle to judging all ideas again anyway, even the idea of “not judging” which must be ultimately rejected.
So, in the mess of ideas out there today, you and I must come into the debate saying this “I could be wrong about this.” If I am wrong, I will accept it like a man, or woman, and own up to it. I won’t keep fighting for my pride, I will accept that I was wrong. Everybody is wrong once in a while. This takes humility, a Christian value, that isn’t very widespread in any circle.
To dialogue and seek truth also requires critical, but clear and logical thinking. You cannot afford to simply accept whatever is told to you from any source, and that includes our own preconceived notions; we must put those on the scales of truth as well.