What is the truth - service by Rev John Wilkinson 27.9.2020


What is The Truth?

Chalice lighting

The Lord said “Let there be Light”

And there was light,

The light of promise,

The light of hope

The light of wisdom,

The light of knowledge

The light of community

The light of friendship

The light of Love

The light of Freedom

The light of Tolerance

The light of Reason

The light of Truth!

158 The flame of Truth is kindled

Let us meditate for a moment -

What is Truth?


Plato said that truth depends upon being.

According to Hebrew scholars ‘Being and God’ are synonymous.

The great existence.

“To Be or not to Be? “

‘Being’ is much more than simply existing, “To Be” also implies To Live.

The Greek word ‘Theos’ translated as ‘God’ can also be translated as ‘Being’

When combined with ‘Logos’ this gives us the word ‘Theology’

M. Scott Peck said

“Theology is an artistic expression of beliefs and emotions which are in the nature of the creation formless, however much we may wish to deny it, it is always to some extent an artificial construct. The human attempt to define the indefinable. Theology is not a definition but an icon or symbol.”

If we retranslate the preface to St. John’s Gospel extracting the artistic expressions of belief and emotions, or mystic and religious fantasy, we find that we are left with a secular scientific philosophy that explains something about the creation that has been obscured by the artistic licence.

“En Arche en ho Logos”

“In the beginning was the word” becomes

‘Reason and logic are pre-eminent’.

Logic and Reason are essential elements of the eternal existence.

And “Logos en pros ton Theos”

“The word was with God”become

Reason Logic and rationality coexist with being.

‘The word was God’

Being has reason/Logic,

Reason and logic exist eternally.

‘All things are brought into being for a reason’

Nothing is created with out reason.

Reason/logic is life

Reason/logic is the light of life for humankind.

Aristotle said truth was the absence of falsity

“Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free”

During the past year the government has come under fire for not being absolutely truthful.

Truth like everything else is subjective.

What we hear is not always what was intended by the speaker.

And a lot of that depends upon what the speaker thinks his audience already understand.

According to Susie Dent the lexicographer.

English is in fact pretty generous when it comes to the vocabulary of fakery, lies and unsupported facts .

The Oxford English Dictionary offers for example , dozens of synonyms for the liar, ranging from the 14th century leasingmonger to the Victorian pseudologist with nods to the falsificator, gabber and wrinkle along the way.

If you are taken in by such false stories you are quite possibly a “Gobemouche “ a term borrowed from the French where it means a fly swallower conjuring up the image of someone listening with their mouth open so wide an insect can happily take up residence

Gullible is a nod to the Gull in old dialect that meant an unfledged bird swallowing anything as they can . No matter how preposterous .

Speaking of preposterous a word based on the Latin post – last and Pre first applied to anything so absurd that the truth seems positively reversed –

In the 19th century they showed prescience with the phrase “Come, come, that’s Barnard Castle” used as a response to someone who had offered a flimsy excuse for reprehensible actions.

It is said to have begun as a mocking retort to the self justifications of George Downes the steward of Durham’s Barnard Castle who shut himself in the walls during a failed Roman catholic attempt to replace Queen Elizabeth 1st with Mary Queen of Scots .

Of course what we all want is the Naked Truth warts and all

This phrase takes us back to antiquity and the fable of Truth and Falsehood personified on a bathing trip .

Falsehood emerges from the water first and promptly steals Truth’s clothes .

True to her nature Truth prefers to go naked than be seen in anything belonging to falsehood .

Warts and all, is said to have been inspired by Oliver Cromwell who insisted his portrait painter imitate real life rather than gloss over any facial imperfections.

Currently the most popular word being bandied about is Algorithm which has been developed from algorism . Defined as An algebraic formula used to obscure the truth.

According to the government we are being directed by algorithms to control the virus , what does that tell you about the politics of government?

Then we get the Gospel Truth? What does that mean ?

The first three gospels of Matt, Mark, and Luke, were written for an audience made up of people who understood a number of basic folk tales like the one I have just told, that had been transmitted by oral means over many generations .

The message of the folk stories were fairly common across major swathes of the known Roman world.

The intention was to amalgamate the many variations into a single narrative that everybody could accept and use as their religious base.

This is the basis of Christianity.

Nowadays instead of the gospels bringing together information that we already hold,

the Gospels have become the prime source of information about Jesus the Christ.

But are they Truth?

In the English version of the Bible , The preface to St. John’s Gospels starts “In the beginning was the word., however the Greek passage from which it was translated so many years ago said “En Arche En ho Logos “ which means much more than “In the beginning was the word.”

A better translation for Logos would be Reason and Arche means more than beginning it also means ‘the first or most important.

Talking about God is called Theology.

Theology is not a definition but an icon or symbol”.

I am sure that we all have our own vision, our own icon or personal idea of God

What do you think? How do you see God?

Does God exist in a separate entity or is God a part of the whole, or is God the whole?

What picture do you draw in your head?

Do you see A benevolent old man sitting on a cloud?

As I was growing up my Congregational Sunday school had a number of pictures of God. There was the old man on the cloud ,

there was a picture of a man sitting surrounded by children of all colours. There was one of a shepherd carrying a lost sheep on his shoulders.

We were told that this ‘good’ shepherd was Jesus,

note that he has been promoted from a simple shepherd to a ‘good’ shepherd and then promoted upwards again into the son of God.

Jesus was referred to as the Christ, Christ was the Greek word or name for a Hebrew Messiah a promised leader who would solve all the world’s problems and lead us into the Utopian dream

My Anglican school had a picture of Jesus as the Light of the world.

Jesus the Christ then got another promotion from being simply God’s son to being described as ‘God’s only son.’

He then got promoted again in the Trinity so that he was put on a par with his Father.

As we progressed through our religious education we were taught that the people sharing in Holy Communion around the table were the ‘Body of Christ”

There were lots of pictures of what people thought about God and Jesus .

But Reason is the most important thing.

So what is the Reasoned Truth about God?

I was brought up going to a Church of England School during the week and a Congregational Sunday School on Sunday which led me to question the contradictions I found.

Even though that was not my teacher’s intentions I leant to Reason for myself.

When I discovered that the Greek preface to John’s gospel really meant something like Reason is pre-eminent. this put a whole new light on the rest of the passage.

John seems to be questioning what I had been taught as the truth.

The next passage from John’s gospel[translated as “There was a man sent from God whose name was John He came as a witness to the light.] could also be translated as” John identified the man who brought enlightenment into the world.”

He was not the enlightenment but merely a witness . As you can see that questions the divinity of Jesus and the theology of the mainline churches.

When you shine a light onto a piece of broken glass, the light is divided up into the colours of the rainbow . Enlightenment of intelligence is similar, there can be any number of understandings that emerge from a single Damascus road experience.

A simple idea generates a variety of responses.

What is the truth?

As Unitarians we do not accept Jesus as a divine part of the godhead so how do we Unitarians define or envisage God ? We all have our own ideas.

Purple Book No. 29 Deep in the shadows of the past

Human beings are naturally ambitious . They really want to be God themselves.

And the Christian Church had enabled that to happen.

In order to understand other people we really need to understand ourselves first.

In John 14 v 6 Jesus is reputed to have said “I am the way the truth and the light. This also could be translated as I am ‘is’ the way etc.-

In other words Being oneself is desirable, we should not try to be something that we are not

We should stop pretending.

Many people go through life putting on an act .

“To Thine own self be true.”

If you want to know God you first of all have to know yourself.

The way to do that is to reason with yourself

Ask yourself the hard questions.

Am I being truthful? Am I being honest? Or am I doing what somebody else thinks I should be doing ? Or what society thinks I should be doing?

Am I putting on an act to impress?

Am I hiding behind an image ?

Am I too scared of what others may say about me?

Am I pretending so that people will like me?

Am I being aggressive or assertive to hide my inadequacies?


I am is the way

I am is the truth

I am is the life.

Hymn 70 I wish I knew how

Candle lighting

Let us bring our concerns and blessings into the light.

Hymn 165 The spirit lives to set us free

Know the truth and the truth will set you free.

Freedom is coming.

It is close enough to touch

As evening falls the sun sinks behind the hill and for a moment a glorious sunset illumines our world. [extinguish the chalice]

AS the candle light fades so the light of reason sparks into life allowing our thoughts of a bright tomorrow come into being.