The Biblical Concept of Truth in the Fourth Gospel -- By: Dan Lioy

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 06:1 (Sep 2008)
Article: The Biblical Concept of Truth in the Fourth Gospel
Author: Dan Lioy

The Biblical Concept of Truth in the Fourth Gospel1

Dan Lioy2


This journal article examines the biblical concept of truth in the Fourth Gospel. The essay provides a synopsis of the lexical data regarding the concept of truth. This is followed by an examination of the various places in the Gospel of John where the Greek noun alētheia (which is rendered “truth”) occurs.3 Based on an analysis of the information, it is determined that the author of the Fourth Gospel affirms the established notion of truth found in the Old Testament, post-canonical Jewish writings, and Synoptic Gospels. In brief, the prevailing concept is one of veracity and genuineness in stark contrast to all forms of falsehood. Additionally, it is concluded that the Evangelist refines this understanding by focusing the notion of truth on the Father’s revelation of Himself in His Son. It is maintained that the divine-incarnate Messiah is both the epitome and emissary of truth. Furthermore, it is surmised that the Savior’s followers come to a full awareness and understanding of the truth by believing in Him for salvation and allowing Him to transform every aspect of their lives.

1. Introduction

In a weblog titled “Absolute Truth” (dated 1 August 2008), the Principal of South African Theological Seminary, Reuben van Rensburg, noted that the “concept of absolute truth is coming under fire more and more”. Likewise, he pointed out that “even in the Christian community” there are individuals who reject the notion of truth being absolute (cf. Hick 1981:5-7). The tragic result is a “further weakening the church in the eyes of the world” (van Rensburg 2008). These observations are confirmed in an extensive survey conducted in 2008 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. An interview of over 35,000 Americans yielded a detailed snapshot of the religious landscape in the United States (and possibly is suggestive of the situation in other industrialized countries). Within the mainline Protestant churches, 83 percent affirmed that “many religions can lead to eternal life”. Even among those who claimed to be evangelicals, 57 percent registered agreement (Buchanan 2008:7).

This alarming circumstance is due, in part, to the pluralistic age in which we live. In a forthcoming article, I maintain that pluralism represents a worldview and approach to life that runs counter to Christianity. In general, it is an ideology that says there are many valid ways of understanding ultimate reality. More specifically, pl...

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