We Don’t Hold the Truth, The Truth Holds Us

Answering, “Who are you to claim you’ve got the one truth for everyone?”

by Tom Gilson

Arrogance in action: That’s how a lot of people view Christianity these days. “Who are you to claim you’ve got the one truth for everyone?” Their charge against us would be right — if we really thought our truth was true for everyone. Then we would be arrogant indeed. But we don’t. In fact, when we say, “I know the truth,” we’re taking a stance of humility.

That statement might surprise some people, I know. It’s common in our culture for people to develop their own personal truths about religion and ethics. They build their truths to fit themselves, to make sense for themselves. These “truths” are personal truths. They belong to that one person, so it would be wrong to impose them on others.

But Christians don’t see it that way at all. Our truth is not our own; it’s not personal truth. We don’t create it for ourselves. It’s a reality to be discovered. It’s truth that holds true whether we like it or not. Christians don’t own the truth, we submit to it.

And which is more arrogant: to think we can build our own personal truth, or to submit humbly to one that’s bigger than ourselves?

“But you must have an open mind!” say some. G.K. Chesterton, one of the most sparkling writers of the 20th century, answered that this way: “The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.”

I’ll illustrate what I’m saying from the life of C.S. Lewis. A firm atheist, he was at Oxford when he decided to study the evidence for God. It led him in a direction he did not choose:

“You must picture me alone in [my] room … night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet… That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me … I gave in and admitted that God was God and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

There was no arrogance in that. There was giving in and admitting. He submitted to something greater than himself.

Contrast that with the idea that we can all develop our own truth…


We Don’t Hold the Truth, The Truth Holds Us | The Stream