Vicars Letter


What is truth? Pilate's famous question has come under considerable scrutiny recently. Fake news, disinformation  and distraction news are said to have played a key role in the US election. Social media can generate stories of much more immense power than the old urban myths. Social media compound the problem by enabling us to listen only to the "news" or views we want to or agree with. Hacking into a company website could generate completely false information for employees or machines.


In daily life we value personal relationships because they give us a way of evaluating truth through establishing trust: we get a sense of when we are not being told the truth. Yorkshireman Dickie Bird, the doyen of cricket umpires, had a simple way of dealing with disputed boundary catches in the days before TV replays. He would walk right up to the catcher, look them in the eye and say: "Tha knowest thar is a God in 'eaven so tell me if tha war a fair catch "....Philosopher and scientist John Bowker, in his book "The Sacred Neuron" explains how even the logically soundest and most used methods of truth seeking- "correspondence" and " coherence" are flawed.


Jesus' words that prompted Pilate's question were these: "everyone on the side of truth listens to me". Immense arrogance or simple plain speaking from the Son of God? Jesus repeatedly pushed his hearers, including Pilate, onto the horns of this dilemma - if His moral teaching is brilliantly divine, He cannot at the same time be arrogantly lying. Contemporary writers, such as Matthew Parris in The Times recently,  try to escape this dilemma by saying that Jesus was deluded. But truth is ultimately recognised and communicated through the transparency and integrity of our heartfelt communication over generations and across different social groups. Charismatic deluders succeed for a time but ultimately the truth emerges. It is therefore impossible for Jesus to claim all that He, and for it to continue to inspire if He was delusional. God seems to be in no hurry for us human beings to recognise the truth, after all He has all eternity He can wait, but the sooner we start listening to Jesus, the sooner we will see truth clearly.