Philosophy Word of the Day – Truth

A property of statements or claims about reality; thus a claim is “true” (or “false”).  Aristotle claimed that truth is “to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.” This notion of truth involves both a saying (“of something that it is”) and reality (“what is or is not”).  So there are two elements to truth: the truth bearer (a proposition, statement, or a sentence) and the truth maker (the world, a fact, or a state of affairs).  In making a true statement, one asserts a proposition and reality makes that proposition true (or false).  The dominant metaphor used to describe this relationship is the correspondence theory of truth, which holds that a claim is true insofar as it corresponds to the external or extramental world.  So my claim “the chair is red” is true if, in fact, that particular chair has the property of redness. . . .

Christian theology, because of its realism, has tended to adopt some version of the correspondence theory of truth.  With respect to central spiritual truths, it matters whether the sentences “Christ is God incarnate” and “Jesus rose from the dead” are made true by the facts that Christ is God incarnate and that Jesus rose from the dead.  The biblical witness adds that people need to be related appropriately to Jesus, the Truth (John 14:8). This relational dimension suggests that grasping Christian truth involves a way of being-in-the-world and being-in-relation-to-God. Finally, the New Testament emphasizes a correlation between truth and love (1 Corinthians 8:2-3; 13:1-3).

(Excerpted from 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology, Kelly James Clark, Richard Lints, James K. A. Smith [Westminster John Knox Press, 2004] 96.)

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