The Definite Article
“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
To be certain, Jesus is the real deal. No believer in Christ would dispute that. But when I talk about the “definite article” I do not mean to use that phrase as another way of saying that Jesus is authentic. In fact, I mean it in a more practical, even grammatical way. When Jesus spoke of Himself, as recorded in the verse above, He used the definite article, “THE”. He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. Let me tell you, “THE” will mess you up, especially if you have been conditioned by our culture’s homogenized brand of political correctness and moral relativism to believe that “all views are true” and “every path leads to God.”
That definite article claims a very particular uniqueness to Christ. If He is THE way, then Muhammad is not. If Jesus is THE truth, then Buddha is not. If Jesus is THE exclusive way to the Father, which He emphatically affirmed, then modern society’s fantasy about truth being relative has just been turned on its head. Jesus obviously would not have fared well with the modern purveyors of political, cultural, and social correctness that are ready to intimidate anyone who dares to utter an opinion that does not fit their morally relative, socially and politically progressive narrative.
But the real fact of the matter is that all truth claims are, by their very nature, exclusive. You cannot say that two opposing ideas are equally true (unless you’re a politician). If a proponent of one ideology claims his to be true, then he is, by implication, saying that any ideology that holds an opposing view is wrong. The fact is, not all religions are created equal, nor can they all, by any logical analysis, be true. How could they be when they each hold to their own distinctive doctrines, so radically different from one another in almost every conceivable way? Obviously, not all truth claims are, in fact, true. The idea that all religions are “essentially the same” is pure fallacy. But, as Jesus declared, there is a truth that is knowable. There is in all of this, a right answer, and contrary to popular sentiment, if your particular beliefs are opposed to that truth, then you are wrong. That’s right, my friend. Wrong.
These kinds of direct assertions of truth are very difficult for our culture to hear today. In fact, any opinion expressed as definitively true sends a hoard of folks howling about the insensitivity of such truth claims to those who don’t share those views. Where did this hypersensitivity come from? We are so worried about political correctness in our culture that we can’t say anything that means anything anymore. We can’t say that most acts of terror are being carried out by radical Islamic jihadists, lest we offend our Muslim neighbors. We’re not saying that all Muslims are terrorists. They are not, but we should not unsay, or leave unsaid, what is patently true for fear of offending a particular group. We cannot say that violent rioting and looting in our inner cities is wrong lest we be said to be insensitive to the plight of minorities who feel that they have been oppressed by authority figures in our society. It is the Constitutionally protected right of every American citizen to make such claims, and there are proper legal channels by which such wrongs may be redressed. However, while those who riot cry out for fair treatment, they ignore the rights of the innocent citizens whose businesses are destroyed in the name of their demonstrations for justice.
We can’t say that killing an unborn child in the womb of its mother is murder and the greatest shame in our national history, lest we be accused of trampling the rights of women. Such words would be considered an attack on those who are in a vulnerable position in life, and yet little is said by the talking heads in our culture about the sheer inhumanity of selling the fetal remains of the unborn for profit, even though they, the most vulnerable among us, are denied the most basic of rights: the right to life.
It would seem that saying anything could be potentially offensive to someone somewhere. In fact, in recent news, students on the campus of Yale University were signing a petition to rescind the First Amendment on the grounds that it promotes “hate speech.” When exactly did the world go nuts? When did the lunatics take over the asylum? I am not exactly sure when it happened, but happen it did. No one is allowed to express opinions that are too direct, or espouse values as being absolutely true, because somewhere along the line our society decided that right and wrong were negotiable, and that truth was whatever we wanted it to be at the moment.
There is, however, one big problem with all of this. We are not the ultimate arbiters of what is right and wrong. Before any of us came on the scene, absolute truth was already set down by the One who just as meticulously established the laws of physics that allow our world to spin its way through the cosmos. It will not be a secularist or relativist before whom we stand when we are called upon to give an account of ourselves. Our feeble attempts to redefine the nonnegotiable will not wash before the One who is Himself the embodiment of truth.
That One sent His Son to die for our sins. He did not make it complicated. He gave us in the scriptures the necessary revelation of Himself so that the big questions of life could be an open book test. In whom can we put our trust? Where is truth to be found upon which we can build our lives? Where is meaning found that makes sense of why we were born? Against the panoply of pretenders stands One whose birth split time in half, BC and AD, and whose life has done more to influence the course of human history than any other. His name is Jesus, and He is, quite literally, the Answer.
The tactic to get our world to deny absolute truth was not merely the invention of men who wanted to justify their selfish ambitions and defend their carnal pursuits. This is no mere concoction of a culture that simply wants to do its own thing. This strategy was conceived in hell by Satan, the “god of this world,” who blinds the minds of those “who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He distracts men from their hunger for truth with the lures of desire, pride, and selfish ambition. He lulls them into stupefaction with witty sounding arguments from the atheistic intelligentsia who tell them that the moral conventions of our fathers’ faith are outdated and passé. Those seeking to ignore the warning of their conscience take this as their permission slip to skip out on the serious conversation about truth, moral accountability, and eternal destiny.
The fact is that time is short. It is time to take a stand, choose a side, and get…well…definite. We need to be definite about what we believe, in whom we trust, and on what we’ll stake our lives. This is much too important an issue for the message to be lost or diluted in ambiguous terms that don’t communicate truth in our efforts to be “nice” and “polite” about it all. We don’t want to offend anyone, but neither do we want to entertain falsehood so everyone can merely feel better about themselves. We won’t all agree. Some whom we dearly love may disagree with us the most adamantly. We will still love them, and respect their right to dissent, but we have a higher obligation to the truth, for when we deny the truth we ourselves participate in deception. As C. S. Lewis once famously explained, we cannot see Jesus merely as a good man or a teacher of great truths. He did not leave us that option. He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God. He is either liar, lunatic, or Lord. He gave us the answer when He said He was the way, the truth, and the life. You must choose whom you will believe. You need to make an informed decision. This is too important to leave to others to decide for you. This is indeed something about which you need to be definite.