November 12, 2020
Truth and Goodness

Dr. Oliver Wagner
Arrested and standing trial before Pilate, Jesus said, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
A few years ago a church member prophetically told me, “I fear we now live in a post-truth age.” It seems he has been proven to be correct! What was once described as an “age of information” has morphed into an age of dis-information. What is false? What is true? And who says? What you think to be true depends entirely on your information source! One politician claims this and another that. Some news agencies declare one truth but others dispute it, calling it false. Who speaks the truth? What is really true? Pilate had a good question for Jesus long ago!

In the Presbyterian Church, we have for centuries held to a belief that “The truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth is its tendency to promote holiness.“ The church went on in that historic statement to say “No opinion can either be more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it. ”(Book of Church Order, F-3.0104)  What those Christian ancestors were declaring is what we still believe: “the truth matters!”

It seems we now live in a society in which the pernicious and absurd are being openly and unapologetically promoted, putting (as that old Book of Order language stated) “truth and falsehood on the same level.”

Friends, we must speak up for what is right, fair and true! For we are a people who believe in ethics and morality, a people who will never allow right and wrong, truth and falsehood, to be “on the same level.” We must differentiate between good and evil, honesty and deceit, harmony and divisiveness, mercy and hate, humility and arrogance, justice and corruption, service and selfishness. Not only does the truth “cast out fear,” it brings forth from us goodness and holiness. Lies will not stand but the truth endures.

One of the great ends of the church is more important than ever in this world of “alternative facts”, social media dis-information, outright lies and self-serving political spin: “the preservation of the truth.” The truth matters! God calls us to seek it, embrace it, preserve it, and preach it. Jesus Christ, we believe, “is the way, the truth and the life.”  Therefore, with the great hymn we continue to stand against falsehood, singing out: “This is my father’s world, o let me never forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”
Good Shepherd, holy are you! Lead us in paths of righteousness and deliver us from evil that your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009