Does Truth Still Matter?

For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:45

As a lawyer, I have a complicated relationship with the truth. Not in the traditional sense that people associate my profession with dishonesty, but in the very nature of the work I do. As a litigator, the “truth” in a case ultimately is whatever the finder of fact (a judge or jury) decides that it is. Because very few things can be proven with certainty, the task of a trial lawyer is to help a jury come to an agreement about which story they believe. In a courtroom, “truth” matters, but “Truth” as an overarching reality rarely gets past the metal detectors.

Our modern screen-based lives give us remarkable access to information, but it is provided with only a marginal concern for truth. The 24-hour news cycle creates a vacuum that begs to be filled with something. In response to a constant demand for some new thing, the media and social media fill that vacuum with rumor, speculation, and opinion.

Combine with that emerging technologies that alter and manipulate truth. Thanks to Photoshop and its progeny, we cannot believe our eyes. The altering of video and audio means that we can’t believe our ears. Whereas a skeptic in the past would insist on evidence that he could see, hear or feel, none of that evidence provides any surety today that you are experiencing what is true.

As a result, truth becomes less the subject of investigation and more of a construction project. It is what we choose to make of it, and once we have formed our opinions, we take comfort in our own wisdom and listen only to those who agree with it. Opinion takes little notice of truth.

That’s not the way the Lord operates. When it comes to our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, truth takes little notice of opinion. In my role as a priesthood holder, my relationship with truth is much more straightforward than it is as an attorney. I am taught, and believe, that truth matters and that whatever is truth is part of the essence of Christ. When we find truth, defined as the word of the Lord, then we are on the path to finding Christ.

That search for truth is not a Google-like process. It is not a matter of casually searching and stopping when we come to something that already fits our theological, moral, social, or political leanings. We cannot find truth by demanding up front that it comply with our personal world view. We find it when we surrender our views and open ourselves to the universe as God sees it.

I find it off-putting when people preface a religious argument with the phrase, “The God I believe in…” I’ve found that to really mean, “In my view.” The “God” that they speak of bears a curious and convenient relationship to themselves, perhaps with a whiter beard. Similarly, society now heaps praise upon someone who is “living her truth,” when in fact none of us have any proprietary interest in truth. The conceit that we do blinds us to any hope of finding truth, because that search rarely confirms our self confidence. Instead, it shows us that we require a realignment with things as they really are.

I am grateful for the true doctrine of revelation, and for the hope that if I set aside my mental baggage and seek in faith, there is a way to discover and confirm real truth. We all have that hope and God’s assurance that the path is open to make His truth ours.

It is a lifelong task to hear, to learn, to obey all the vast truths, for the gospel reaches into the eternities.

John H. Vandenberg

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