Friday, August 5, 2011

My Truth Shall Make Me Free

We live in a post-rationalist age, when we define "truth" and "knowledge" in absolute terms. I love Nephi's definition of "true" - essentially, "it is according to my experiences and understanding, and I am not lying about it". In other words, if someone is expressing something they believe sincerely due to their own experiences, it is "true" for them.

I really like that, since it allows everyone to discover "truth" in the context of their own lives. I understand the issues involved with this view, but I think the benefits outweigh the danger - and "the truth shall make you free" resonates more fully in that context for me than in any other.

Don't get me wrong. I do believe in Absolute Truth, and I strive to understand it whenever possible. I just am not confident I see through my glass clearly enough to tell others they must reject what works for them and accept what works for me - especially when Mormonism teaches that we will be judged largely on what we do and become and how valiantly we follow the dictates of our own consciences.


ji said...


Of course truth is as Nephi described it. Maybe through inspiration of the Lord, I learn a small principle -- I call it truth and it satisfies me for a while. Later, I learn a little more, and I call my new understanding truth and it satisfies me. On the other hand, you have learned something a little different from this same spirit of inspiration, and you call it truth and it satisfies you. All of this is truth.

If you ask a 5-year-old why the sun comes up in the morning, she gives you a simple answer such as the Lord loves the flowers and the birds -- we call that answer "right" and give her a hug and a kiss. A 15-year-old in school might be asked a similar question in a class, and he answers with talk about orbits and revolutions -- we call that answer "right" and give him an A. A 25-year-old astrophysics post-doctoral fellow gets the same question, and he answers with gibberish we cannot understand and talk of the procession of the equinoxes and so forth, and we assume he must be "right". They are all right, and they all speak the truth.

Here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept. It's all truth.

In some cases, based on our circumstances or seasons, my truth regarding a particular principle may differ from your truth. That's okay with me -- what's important is that my truth comes from the right source, and that you are also honestly seeking from the same source. We can learn from each other, and we can sustain each other as brothers in the gospel.

There might be an absolute truth on some principles, but I don't want to go there now. Even so, I always have to see through my glasses and the filters of my consciousness.

Patty said...

I don't know... I think maybe truth is truth and the difference is just our perception. What may seem to be true or real to one person may seem to be false to another based on how they see things... but the reality of the situation or idea doesn't actually change. Just because I don't see or understand a truth doesn't make it any less true.
But I see what you're saying about people having their own "truths" and it's good to know that we have the opportunity to keep learning and growing at our own pace. Not all truths are meant for all people, and certainly not all at the same time.

Papa D said...

"I think maybe truth is truth and the difference is just our perception."

Exactly, Patty. I believe in absolute Truth, with teh differences being our individual perceptions.