I often think about the relationship between truth and fact. I was raised with the belief that all things that were fact were truth, and all things that were truth were indeed fact.
Being raised in an excessively, obsessively Christian conservative home and church I was told that the Bible was truth, and that it was fact, cold, hard, fact.
We, or at least I, spent hours thinking of ways to defend the factuality of the scriptures. We had to defend against the secular humanism of the world, against the direct full frontal assault of evolution, and secular humanism on the things we held most dear.
The world in which I was raised was more extreme than that of most Christians I know, and living through that extreme has given me the gift/curse of seeing the evangelical world in caricature. Still though in every church and ministry I have been in I have seen the world painted in dichotomy, the Christians and the world.
In that dichotomization the battle lines are drawn and we as the Christians must defend ourselves against the world at any cost. We must fight against the liberals, the abortionist, the evolutionist, the secularist, the vileness of the world.
But, what if that is not the truth? What if the battle lines are not quite so clear? What if truth has less to do with fact than we have been led to believe? What if our enemies is not “the world”?
Is it possible that all of the “facts” that we hold so dear are indeed the real enemy? Is it possible that we, ourselves–the Christians–are our own greatest enemy?
I think to begin exploring this topic we must first ask ourselves what is fact? What is truth? Are they the same? Are they beautiful? Are they Gospel? What is “Gospel” anyways?
First fact, facts are those things which we can observe and prove. The only facts I know are those things which I have seen and experienced, and at times even those are suspect. My name is David Smith, I reside in New York, I own a 17 year old vehicle. All facts, and none of them tell you much about me.
The facts about me have very little to do with me. Most of the relevant facts of my life are fit on a drivers license. However, the truth about me could fill volumes, as could the truth about you.
To me this is the greatest thing we often miss as Christians. The beauty of our faith does not reside in a series of facts that we need to set out to prove the veracity of. The beauty or our faith lies in truth.
Truth unlike fact is a living, breathing, thing. It cannot be carved into stone, written on a piece of paper, or subsumed into a scientific principle. It can only be experienced, felt, lived, and struggled through.
The truth is like a great river sometimes calm and peaceful pulling us gently toward the ocean, sometimes a great torrent flinging us about, dragging us under and causing us to gasp for air as we struggle against its awesome power.
Let us cease our striving to prove the facts of our faith–for those are only data, cold, hard, and lifeless. Let us instead strive to live and experience the truth of our faith–a living, vibrant, and beautiful truth. For it has been my observation that I become like that which I pursue. When I find myself pursuing the facts I become cold, calculating and lifeless. When I pursue the truth I become a little more like the truth, alive and vibrant finding the beauty in the world and those around me.