The Atheist’s Dilemma: Pilate Error

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John 18:37-38
“Then Pilate said to Him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

I was driving to work thinking about this exchange between Pilate and Jesus, when something suddenly struck me. Pilate makes a grave error with his question. He separates truth from God. Pilate treats truth as though it’s an entity unto itself. But, we know that truth is not separate from God because of how Jesus identifies Himself four chapters earlier:

“I am the way, and THE TRUTH, and the life.” – Jesus Christ (John 14:6)

By asking, “What is truth?”, Pilate assumes that truth is simply a philosophical concept, and not a grounding for reality. He rhetorically treats it as though it’s incoherent, like it can’t be known. In other words, Pilate dismisses truth in a matter of fact fashion, as though it has no place in actuality.

Jesus, however, does not separate truth from Himself as Pilate does. Jesus Christ (who is God) cannot separate truth from Himself, because He is the ideal embodiment of truth. He is the exact imprint of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3).

Look at how Christian Apologist/Speaker, Ravi Zacharias describes Jesus:

“He is the central feature of His own message.”

In other words, Jesus Christ (who is God) is truth. Truth is not something which is separate from God.

Question:

Is truth something which is distinct from God, which God then refers to, as though it’s something outside of Him?

Nope. God does not refer to truth, He reveals truth. In other words, God reveals… Himself.

To attempt to separate truth from God is to make a categorical error regarding truth. Such is the error of Pilate, and such is also the error of atheism.

Atheism declares that reality is devoid of God. Ironically, atheism of all stripes commonly attempts to acknowledge the existence of truth to some degree. Yet, while denouncing God’s existence AND acknowledging truth to some degree, atheism separates truth from God, just as Pilate did. What the atheist fails to realize is that in the process of separating the two, regardless of the degree of truth acknowledged, the acknowledged truth is then, ironically, rendered incoherent.

But, truth cannot be incoherent. It’s not possible ontologically. An absolute characteristic of truth is that it is coherent. Whether the individual atheist intends to render truth incoherent or not, it doesn’t change that fact that the thought system that they adhere to does it by default.

Another way of saying it is, when Christ is removed from the equation, truth is removed from the equation. There’s no way around it.

Why?

Because, Christ is the grounding of reality. Through Him all things are made, and all things are held together by the power of His word (Hebrews 1:2-3). Such is emphatically denied by atheism. In other words, grounding or truth is ontologically not possible within a truly atheistic paradigm. And, since truth is actually incoherent according to consistent atheism, and truth is a prerequisite for reality to be coherent, reality is also incoherent according to consistent atheism.

Also, it is extremely common for those who adhere to atheism to have the compulsion to create truth for themselves, since they don’t admit that it exists by default (Romans 1:18-2:4).

Why?

Because, like it or not, the atheist is an image bearer of God. Image bearers of God can’t avoid the default desire for truth. They will suppress it, yes, due to sin, as described in Romans 1:18-2:4, but they can’t help to still desire it.

So, what do they do?

They create their own truth.

However, truth is not something to be created. It’s not even something which can be controlled or piloted. It’s something to be acknowledged, and when it’s not, repentance is the proper response.

The thing is, repentance is not even possible in the atheist’s paradigm, because without a grounding or an “ontic referent” as Ravi Zacharias would put it, there is no standard by which to verify or even to confirm that which a person may change their mind about. Not only does atheism render truth to be incoherent, but sadly, atheism also renders repentance to be incoherent as well. Pilate rendered such incoherence when he asked, “What is truth?”

Ironically… Truth was standing right in front of him.

Scripture tells us that no one seeks God (Romans 3:11). Since truth cannot be separated from God, then no one really seeks truth either.

So, what are people like Pilate and the atheist seeking?

They seek a “homonym truth”. They seek such because they are image bearers of God, as I explained above. “Homonym truth” looks and sounds like truth, but it’s not. It’s a smokescreen. It’s meant to derail what God has revealed to them. Think of it as their way of avoiding truth, yet, at the same time, allowing for their natural desire (as image bearer’s of God) for truth to be satisfied. Or, to put it another way, this smokescreen is their way of avoiding truth, yet, at the same time, allowing for their thirst for truth as image bearer’s of God to be quenched.

We (Christians) must fervently pray for God to grant the atheist repentance for violating God’s purpose, and to also grant them the desire to trust in “the truth” (Jesus Christ), who is God. As long as our Savior tarries, it is our job to continually offer the atheist the only pilot who is immune to error… Jesus Christ.

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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