Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Surprising Answer to "What is Truth?"

We will probably never know what Pilate meant when he asked Christ, "What is truth?" Sarcasm? The world-weary cynicism of a Roman official with one of the most difficult jobs of Rome? Or perhaps the echo of a genuine question from a decent young man long ago ground down by his responsibilities to a brutal empire?

In any case, it is the wrong question for our time and is causing Catholics far too much anguish and contention.

The question is not "what is truth," and we betray our naïveté when we ask and our disloyalty to the Church when we complain. The legitimate question is "what does the Church now say the truth is?" In fact, the second question always answers the first, because of the inerrant truth-knowing feature built into the Church as an institution and the Pope in his office.

"Truth" is nothing more or less than what the Church, through its many channels, but in our day, primarily the Pope, says it is. We now understand that truth is a construct that is contingent upon the matrix in which we live. This matrix is comprised of our evolving language; our behavior; and the changing moral consensus of our culture as expressed in many different ways, ranging from our laws to popular entertainment. The truth is to be found in the current teachings of the Church.

The Church reflects the culture, and perhaps has done so for most of its existence, although we can only speak certainly of our own time.

It is irrelevant whether Church teachings are formal or not. Indeed, the less formal teachings of the Pope with a microphone in his hand loom larger in both the culture and the minds of individual Catholics. It is the informal teachings which are seized by the news gatekeepers, massaged, and then proclaimed in partnership with the Church - not merely reported, it is important to note.

"What is truth?" is not some great mystery. One of the main purposes of the Church is to be the authority that tells us what the truth is for our generation. The power of the keys means that the truth is whatever the Church - ultimately Peter - says it is. The Church is trusted with not just proclaiming the truth, but creating it.

It must be so.

The Bible is understood by all but the most conservative Protestant scholars as a collection of tales edited long after the events it relates by men who wished to promote different and sometimes conflicting agendas. It is certainly not historically reliable, according to the very best scholarship. Read the notes to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's Bible, the New American Bible, Revised Edition if you have any doubts. They will quickly disabuse you of any lingering Protestant tendency toward bibliolatry.

Only a fundamentalist would today hold up the Bible as containing "the truth."

Only the most naive traditionalist would look to the teachings of the brutal, superstitious and exclusivist past of the Church to find the truth for today's world.

Neither Holy Scripture nor poking around in the Museum of Church History can be the source of truth today. No, the truth is what the Church says it is, most immediately and importantly through the Pope when he utters his oracles to the interpretive priestly class of reporters.

Let go of the irrelevant past and embrace the truth as it has evolved right up to this second and is proclaimed by the Pope: Peter, upon whom the Church was built and to whom the Keys of Binding and Loosing were given in perpetuity. Yesterday's Catholics owed the same duty to yesterday's Church. Why would some of you, today, presume to be less faithful and arrogate to yourselves the authority to decide "what is truth?"

Do you imagine for an instant that the Pope himself could (if he would even think of such a crime, which he could not, protected from error as he is) weave a carpet of lies to spread beneath the Bride of Christ without an army of brave and faithful bishops rising up to challenge him? The teachings of the Pope are confirmed by the agreement of the clergy, the acceptance of the people, and his personal popularity with the entire world. You may trust him without question and to question him is to place oneself outside the Church.

What is truth? The answer is simple:


  1. God can't exist without man, don't ya know.

    1. The truth is apparently even more startling. God cannot exist with the particular man, Jorge Bergoglio. Unless he perceives himself (while avoiding explicitly advancing the claim) as the embodiment of truth itself, it is hard to explain where he thinks he gets the authority to tell the world the truth of any an all subjects, to include economics and climatology.

      Have you ever considered that? Interesting. No one in the world cared what the elderly Jorge Bergolgio of Buenos Aires thought. And, yet, he finds himself Pope, and all of a sudden he feels competent to instruct us all on everything. What a curious view of the papacy for a pope, no less, to have. For ordinary Catholics, it is sad, but more understandable.

    2. It is like he has read every wrongheaded caricature of the Papacy advanced in Protestant apologetics and decided to implement THAT.

  2. There are people who really believe in what the Bear wrote above. Instead of them taking it as sarcasm or whatever, that little essay defines their entire paradigm.

  3. Evidently, the Bear has had enough of the Bergoglio nonsense. What he is saying sounds a little like a swan song. Hope not. We need the Bear on that wall that separates truth from fiction.

    1. Bergoglio is a subject that the Bear has beaten to death. The Bear can only write about what interests him. If the Bear can think of something new, he might wrote more about this Pope. The problem is, it is not just him. Modernism was identified as a threat long before him. Yet even Pius XII took a disastrous turn when it came to Catholic Biblical scholarship. ruining it with dubious German 19th century theories.

      Francis us but a symptom of another western institution failing at the same time in the same way. Pull The thread of Francis and the whole sweater starts to unravel.

      Unlike other bloggers I don't have a solution. I have never advocated traditionalism, ultramontanism, sedevacantism or any other "ism." I wish I had a good answer. As I think about it, the Benedictine spirituality nested within the Church may not resolve the intellectual problems, but can help us simply live our faith as the West falls. (Kind of the whole point of the Benedictines.) I suspect that to the extent time allows me to tend to this blog, I will include more positive pieces that do not continue to beat a dead horse.

    2. Understandable reaction Bear. Yes, Bergoglio has become a bore in lots of ways. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and don't mess with mister in-between. Johnny Mercer was a real philosopher.

    3. You sound pretty traditional to me, Bear. Which isn't going to exactly endear you to the folks at EWTN. Which seems to be have been taken over by Protestant converts looking to continue making their livelihood from religion, and they ain't going to be derailing that gravy train any time soon.

    4. Owl finds Pope Francis to be super boring. Theologically, there are perhaps a occasional point to be made in pointing out this or that. Spiritually, though, Owl things God is giving us the choice as to whether or not we, the West, want to continue to be lazy or not.

      Owl finds Great Bears solution to be perhaps the most sensible. Let us not give in to despair as we are exiled to Babylon.

  4. The most unforgivable thing Pope Francis has done is make Jack Chick look like he was right all along.

  5. The answer to the question 'what is truth' is a biblical anagram:
    Quid est veritas? (What is truth?)
    Est vir qui adest. (It is the man in front of you).

  6. Alas, ain't it the current truth!


Moderation is On.

Featured Post

Judging Angels Chapter 1 Read by Author

Quick commercial for free, no-strings-attached gift of a professionally produced audio book of Judging Angels, Chapter 1: Last Things, read...