Truth is a casualty of our modern era. Not only is knowing the truth challenging, but even seeking the truth is getting harder. Our culture has assumptions and structures that positively discourage developing the habit of truth seeking. Shortcuts, soundbites, and cynicism leave us in a desolate land where truth has few friends.

A reporter from The Wall Street Journal recently said this about ChatGPT, a new artificial intelligence program that answers questions like a human:

ChatGPT makes mistakes: It directed me to a nonexistent study while I researched this column. But whether ChatGPT is “right” misses the point.… “What a large language model is trying to do is not to provide correct answers, but pleasing answers,” said Jim Manzi, a partner at, which develops AI applications for business. “Its job is to anthropomorphize, to give answers people like.”1

Friedrich Hayek, in his famous treatise on economics, The Road to Serfdom, wrote a chapter called “The End of Truth.” There he argues that the habit of truthfulness can easily be destroyed in a culture by overemphasizing economic and political outcomes. When such outcomes take precedence, those goals enslave messaging and words, destroying truth. In public schools and universities, students are told over and over that truth is relative or has been replaced by agendas. Such a claim is counterproductive, however, since it undermines education. School becomes a hoop to jump through or a means to self-validation. As truth is devalued, the intellectual space of our lives is filled with lies and half truths. Truth is still there to be found, but one must dig vigorously through the mountains of deceit.

As Christians, we are called to be truth seekers and to resist the cultural devaluation of truth. Over and over, God calls the Israelites to worship Him, the true God, and not to worship false gods. Jesus claims, somewhat enigmatically, to “be” the truth. Paul is constantly reminding his readers to remember the truth of what was preached to them and not to embrace false teaching. But in the midst of a culture of cynicism, relativism, lies, and agendas, what possible hope is there for finding the truth?

Perhaps we can look to the past. But despite the very long relationship between the truths of God and the knowledge of men, Israelites and Christians have often gone astray seeking polytheistic idolatry, Greek philosophy, Enlightenment rationality, and materialism. History can provide good insights and lessons, but it is not always a reliable guide in the search for truth.

Perhaps we can look to science and secular experts. But that also is a mixed bag. Secular teaching is vast, fascinating, difficult, sometimes ennobling, and sometimes destructive. It is impossible to ignore and impossible to embrace. Because we are finite, we cannot know everything. In fact, the more we learn, the more we realize how much we do not know. The sheer quantity of knowledge can be demoralizing; after all, we can learn only a few drops in the bucket of knowledge, and many of the drops are muddied with falsehood.

Our knowledge may be limited, but what is important—indeed vitally important—is not how much we know but rather our attitude toward the truth. The mark of a believer is a person’s orientation to truth. It is not for nothing that Satan is called the father of lies. A truth seeker believes that God is the author of truth and has given us tools to know Him, His creation, and ourselves. He revealed His word to us so that we might know Him and gave us minds so that we might learn. An attitude of resistance to the truth is thus a rejection of Him. It is a way to hide from what He has given us to know.

So what is a healthy and godly approach to truth? I would like to examine three ways that pursuing truth is an ally to our faith: understanding the Bible, understanding our cultural heritage, and understanding ourselves.

Pursuing the Truth in the Bible

The Bible is our best source of truth and our best aid to faith. But it is not always understood correctly. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time provide a clear example of the significance of failing to understand the Scriptures. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus criticized the Pharisees’ understanding. They read the law of Moses and mistakenly thought that God desired rigid obedience to law. They followed the letter of the law but not its spirit. In addressing this, Jesus said, “Now go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, rather than sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13, NASB). The Pharisees read the Scriptures poorly, which prevented them from knowing the truth.

Understanding the Bible is difficult. It was written at a time and in a culture that differs vastly from our own. It was written in complex foreign languages. It was written in the form of stories, poetry, prophecy, parable, and letters, most of which require hard work to interpret. God did not provide us with a systematic theology book to guide our understanding. It takes effort and skill to read the Bible well. It takes a recognition of our own assumptions. It takes tenacity and repeated exposure. Like all great works of literature, the meaning does not appear all at once or with a cursory read. It takes experience and repeated readings to develop an accurate framework for understanding the text.

Because of its importance and challenges, the Bible is the most carefully read book in all of history. But much of what we know about the Bible has been told to us, filtered through others in the form of doctrines and sermons. Importantly, not all teachers agree. And the many different interpretations and traditions cannot all be correct. Each of us misunderstands the Bible to some extent, and those misunderstandings can impede our living as God desires since they lead us to value things that God does not value and to pursue things God would not have us pursue. However, a deep desire for the truth should encourage us to seek out our misunderstandings and correct them.

In the end, our desire and will are more important than our scholarly ability. The Bible may be a complex book to interpret, but the task is impossible if we do not want to find out we are mistaken. The head and heart must be aligned, as challenging or scary as that may be. Pursuing the Bible is pursuing the truth, and that is not a safe activity, for it reveals to us our misunderstandings. But more importantly, it confronts us with our own sin. And there is no greater ally to faith than confronting our sin.

Pursuing the Truth about Our Cultural Beliefs

By necessity, we must discover the truths of the Bible from within the culture in which we find ourselves. In our case, we inhabit a largely secular culture. Thus, discerning the truth about our culture is as important—and difficult—as discerning the truth about the Bible. In fact, the two work closely together. If our framework for reading the Bible is composed of false cultural and religious assumptions, we will be led astray. At the same time, the poorer our understanding of the Bible, the harder it is for us to critique our cultural assumptions.

All of us have a set of assumptions by which we live our lives. Some call this a worldview; others a preunderstanding, framework, or paradigm. It is the water we swim in. We are all stuck with a framework, both articulated and unarticulated, that provides a lens through which we interpret our experiences and make decisions. In particular, this lens plays a critical role in our journey of faith. It sets our priorities and guides our actions and words. God gives us the desire and inclination to trust and follow Him, but our framework of beliefs is directing how we act on that desire.

The question is not whether we have a framework but whether the one that we have matches reality. Unfortunately, a huge portion of our beliefs comes from our culture. We soak up our beliefs like a sponge absorbs water. Thus an examination of our culture is at the same time an examination of the truth about ourselves and the people we live with.

Since we live inside our culture, we must look for ways to find a vantage point outside. One of the best ways to do that is to look at our culture’s origins and assumptions by exploring influential writings of the past. We can compare our current views with previous views, holding them side by side. Such an examination opens the mind to possibilities and enables critique. We are not hopelessly bound to our current framework—even though many modern people say we are. Because God created reality, we can be confident that there is a true and coherent picture about the world, man, society, and God. By comparing frameworks and ideas, we are pursuing the truth.

We may be capable of learning from the writings of the past, but should we? Previous cultural perspectives may be no better than our own. So, one might argue, for all the good in our tradition, much is also bad, and engaging in such a study may leave us worse off than before; thus we need to protect ourselves from false ideas. (Intellectual protectionism is certainly a growing fad on both the left and right.) For children, some protection is justified based on the age-appropriateness of the information. And even for adults, some protection from those who could prey upon our weaknesses is appropriate. For example, we want to protect ourselves from debased ideas and images that inflame our passions of fear, lust, and envy. Unfortunately, however, most “protection” from the ideas that formed our culture usually takes the form of social control, especially when accompanied by methods such as censorship, indoctrination, and shaming. But our past informs our present, and so it is worthwhile to explore our heritage.  Our own beliefs and the beliefs of those around us stem from past ideas. We cannot step outside our own framework if we are ignorant of how it was formed.

At Gutenberg College, we read and discuss the classics of our culture, including many books that run counter to the biblical worldview. The authors make significant claims about our world that simply aren’t true. On the other hand, some of what they say is true and amazing. In either case, true or false, it is what we have been bequeathed. A sober examination of our culture in light of our past is an important avenue to a more accurate framework and, consequently, an ally to faith.

Pursuing the Truth about Ourselves

The third way that seeking the truth aids our faith is through knowing ourselves. We do this by reflecting on our innermost desires, purposes, goals, and the deepest beliefs of our heart. Through self-reflection, we become aware of our sin and mistakes so that we might mourn them and seek God’s help.

I know from personal experience how easy it is to hide from myself and justify my actions. We all bury things that are too painful to confront. We explain away our own failures. We run from the truth. Only through the great act of God’s mercy can we begin to turn our sights on what God designed us for.

This dynamic of resistance to self- knowledge is commonplace in the Bible. The Pharisees were notorious for their failure to understand themselves. In their zeal for the law, they did not see their lack of love and mercy toward others. Jesus points this out in a story about a Pharisee. “The Pharisee stood and began praying this in regard to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people’” (Luke 18:11, NASB). Their hearts were hard toward the truth about themselves. And the problem is just as severe with believers as with non-believers. Peter lacked self-knowledge when he claimed that he would never deny Jesus, even though Jesus said he would do so three times. Peter’s denial of Jesus was deeply humbling for him; he learned a truth about himself.

Like other pursuits of truth, seeking the truth about ourselves is hard. We resist it by constructing various stories or realities, often to satisfy some unrighteous desire or as a form of protection from pain. These stories run deep and are hard to recognize and even harder to change. But we are called to change, to be “transformed by the renewing of [our] minds,” as Paul says in Romans 12:2. Fortunately, God works in our lives with patient loving-kindness to bring us to self-knowledge so that we might mourn for our own sin. He takes us on a journey of faith.

But we do not journey alone. God provides many tools and aids. He provides us with His Word. He gives us mental faculties to learn. He confronts us with suffering. He provides us with relationships and tasks that reveal our hard hearts. He brings other believers into our lives to correct or encourage us. And then we have a choice: We can use these gifts to confront the truth about ourselves, or we can reject the truth. To seek and accept the truth, even when it is hard, deepens our faith in God.

Finding the truth is a lifelong task. It is part of our journey of faith. Knowing the truth is not the same as having faith, but it is the greatest ally along our path. It leads us toward God because God is truth. We know that lies abound in our world and that we have surely absorbed and believed many of them. But we have no need to fear. As long as we are wanting what is true and seeking it avidly, God will reward us.


1 The Wall Street Journal, “The Robots Have Finally Come For My Job” by Greg Ip, April 5, 2023,

This article first appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of Colloquy, Gutenberg College’s free quarterly newsletter. Subscribe here.