This just keeps coming up for me, so I’m going to address it. Truth is not the beginning of wisdom. The Bible says, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. “
By “fear” in this context we are talking about awe, as in awesome. Good fear. Reverence. Power. Strength. Or one of my favorite definitions, “profound adoring awed respect.“
I think that’s an absolutely critical distinction to make in a world full of so much deception, politics, fake news, “science,” alleged facts, and deep divisions as people fight over “truth” as if we are playing a game of capture the flag or king of the hill. It doesn’t matter if you have truth on your side, or facts or science, or even “might.” Might makes right in some circles.
None of these things are the beginning of wisdom. Anyone ever tried to present enough truth and facts on the internet in the hopes of making someone wise? We do that and we should probably laugh about it because it can be quite funny in it’s futility. The truth will not make anyone wise because we can only see what we are willing to see. We can only hear what we have the ears to hear.
Another problem with chasing truth, sometimes we think if we just figure out what’s going on or find the truth, we’ll be better equipped to solve problems or to fix it. That’s kind of my personality quirk, I love to get a good eagle’s view of what’s going on, figure out what makes things tick. I can’t even count how many riddles I have solved, how many color coded flow charts and Venn diagrams, reams of facts and figures I have prepared. Darkly humorous, but it’s really all for naught if your goal is to try to share some wisdom. Wisdom is one of those things you just can’t bottle.
We once had a water main break under the road near our house. You would not believe how much trouble I had trying to get the county to address it. They’d say, “what makes you think it’s leaking?” Geysers? Little underground springs that keep bubbling up. The fact that I now have waterfront property and a lake to drive through everyday? Eventually we got to, do you have evidence to substantiate your claim? You mean evidence beyond the vast amounts of water gathering that surely must have originated somewhere? No, no I really don’t. I guess I could draw a Venn diagram, if you’d like? If you’ve ever tried to have a two way conversation with bureaucracy, you’ll understand.
We could argue that “truth” is actually a person, the personhood of Jesus Christ. In fact I do say that quite often. Jesus Himself said, “I am the truth and the way and the life.” I am all about that definition of “truth.” You can’t go wrong there. That is awe-some truth.
Which brings me back to that, “profound adoring awed respect.” It’s the most important thing. It really is the beginning of wisdom.
In my state we’re currently having a imaginary war between “science,” registered trademark, and truth. I say imaginary because there really is no conflict. Science is really just how you observe the world around you. It is an inanimate thing, a tool, it has no personhood, but it is being transformed into a cultural brand. You’re supposed to run about proclaiming your “profound adoring awed respect” for the brand we’ve now labeled “science.” It makes everyone feel very smart and powerful. And so, “professing themselves wise they became fools.”
I kid you not, the cure for all that ails us, the answer to all our questions, the truth that we may need at any time, the way to win all our battles, the wisdom that we seek always comes back to that one thing, fear of the Lord, engaging in that, “profound adoring awed respect.”
That’s really what we were made for, that’s what makes us happy. More importantly, that’s what makes us wise.