We now approach the subject of how God and truth are related and we do so in reverence and prayerfulness, asking God for his illuminating Holy Spirit that those things he has revealed to the minds of men would be here revealed. The study of God, theology proper, is a subject that ought to be approached with the highest of esteem and caution, for we are never closer to blasphemy than when we pervert theology or unleash our tongues in anger. As God is the keeper of all truth, we ask he grace us with a proper understanding of him.
Some of what will be said here will borrow from topics already addressed, as the subjects overlap. It should also be pointed out that those subjects are really dependent on this one, and that the arguments repeated here, really derive their necessity from God rather than the other way around (obviously). The primary meaning of the thesis is that God is the lone source of all truth. It begins by demonstrating first that God is indeed true. The argument asserts that not only is the Godhead truth, but each Person of the Trinity as well, and this is said explicitly in Scripture. The idea is so pervasive in Scripture that a great multitude of verses could be presented; however, just three citations from the Gospel of John will suffice.
The Father is truth:
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God . . .” (John 17:3 NASB).
The Son is truth:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life . . .” (John 14:6 NASB).
The Holy Spirit is truth:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth . . .” (John 16:13 NASB).
We should also add this.
God’s word is truth:
“. . . Your word is truth” (John 17:17 NASB).
These four verses demonstrate that the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Scriptures are all true. This evidence, along with myriad other biblical passages that express precisely the same meaning, led the Westminster Divines to conclude that God “is truth itself” (WCF 1:4). What, indeed, could be truer? But lest we should be charged with making an invalid inference—for simply because God is truth it does not follow on this premise only that God alone is truth—we intend to demonstrate that indeed God alone is truth.
There are primarily two arguments that will be pursued to prove this thesis. The first comes in two interrelated parts. In the first part, we wish to show that God is the source of all things. Secondly, we wish to demonstrate that since God preexisted as the truth, only he can be called truth (that is, the source, or foundation of truth) because truth is eternal. The second argument aims to show that nothing temporal can be true.
The first argument follows as such. If God is the source of all things, and if God does not change, then truth does not change, seeing that God is truth, for if truth changed, God would change. The two premises are founded in the following Scriptures:
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things To Him be the glory forever (Romans 11:36 NASB).
“For I, the LORD, do not change . . .” (Malachi 3:6 NASB).
To the immutability of God, we also add eternity:
Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (Psalm 90:2 NASB).
Now, the following inference will probably not sit well with some, but this is what the Bible says, so try to stay with me. If God is immutable, eternal, and truth, then truth is immutable and eternal, also. This is not A(ab) < A(ba), mind you (that would be God is truth and truth is God). The argument follows thusly: truth must be immutable and eternal; otherwise, since God is truth, if truth changed, or if truth was temporal, God would change, or be temporal. This would contradict God’s immutability and eternity, and as a result, truth is necessarily immutable and eternal.
If one more passage from John may be permitted, this argument can soon be concluded.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3 NASB)
Verse three here asserts that nothing that came into being (that is, temporal things, essentially, everything except God) that was not created by the Word of God, who is God and truth.
This brings us to the second argument. This is the part that will upset many people, though why I cannot imagine. Since truth is eternal, but creation is not, it follows that creation cannot be truth. Note that this does not mean creation cannot be true. It means that creation itself has no inherent truth quality. Creation is not true because of anything found in it. Creation is true because God did it. In other words, truth is completely reliant upon God. What God thinks is true and what is true is thought by God. What we think is not necessarily true. It is only true if God thinks it is true.
This leads many people to make a considerable number of objections that attempt to reduce this position to absurdity. One such objection is that if we can never know the truth, then we cannot be saved. This objection misses the point, though. The argument does not assert man can never know the truth. It says that man is not the source of truth. Let us use a particularly useful example.
Sensation is something that many take for granted as true. If you see a hand attached to an arm that is attached to a torso to which your head appears to be attached, you conclude that it is true that the hand in front of your face is yours. This might indeed be true, but you cannot possibly know it. Why not? Because there is nothing necessarily true about your thoughts. You are not truth. There is nothing inherently true about you at all apart from God. Now, it just so happens that since you understand what I am saying, you are rational. As a result, you must be a man made in God’s image, for man alone is rational among God’s creatures. But note that this is only true because it is derived from God’s word. The truths contained in God’s word are necessarily true, for they are a part (an infinitesimally small part) of God’s thoughts.
The next objection comes quickly after this reply. The Bible has many occurrences of sensation, which must be true, since God’s word is true. This is an apt, but irrelevant reply. The argument readily acknowledges that these instances of sensation are true; however, the arguer’s sensations are not accounted in Scripture (that is, your sensations and mine are not in the Bible); therefore, they cannot be said to be necessarily true, for we do not know if these sensations are correct or not. This also gives birth to another objection.
If God knows all things then he must know all instances of sensation; therefore, sensation must produce truth because God is true and he knows them. This argument demonstrates considerable confusion. It is true that God knows all things. It also is true that God knows all instances of sensation. But there are two problems with the objection.
First, simply because God knows what sensations we have and what inferences we draw from those sensations, it does not follow that those sensations and inferences are true. What God knows is that you think such-and-such sensation infers such-and-such proposition. This does not mean that God thinks so. In fact, if that were true, then everything we think would be true by implication.
The second is that, while we apparently have “sensations,” we do not really know what they are or how they work. We take for granted that when we “see” something, that object exists as an entity separate from our visual perception of it. We might even invite a friend over and ask him if he sees the same object. If he concurs, we conclude that the object is objectively sensible. This does not follow, however. First of all, objectivity infers universality. That is, if the object is objectively visually sensible, it must be visually sensible to all sentient beings. Great problems arise from this position. In the first place, there are blind persons who would not be able to see the object. In the second, a colorblind person may perceive the object to be colored differently. Is this different colored object the same as the one sensed by you and your friend? If so, how do you know? Any appeal to sensation at this point will result in a circular argument, and thus beg the original question. Even more, the inference that the object is objectively visually sensible is invalid because you have not tested the inference against all sentient beings. Only after testing the assertion against all sentient beings (and this, of course, must include all dead and all future sentient beings, for the assertion was universal) would you be able to make such a conclusion. But such a procedure is temporally impossible. From this, it necessarily follows that we cannot know whether or not our inferences from sensation are true or not.
Therefore, God alone is truth.
Soli Deo Gloria