Perhaps the more precise question would be something like, “What is the Truth that is Christ?” Or, “How are Truth and Christ synonymous?” Or, “What truth is not Christ?”
Ask those questions and things become interesting and controversial.
I posit that the apparently paradoxical non-starter of a question that serves as the title of this post is anything but paradoxical. Contrary to being a non-starter, I believe we have reached a point in the unfolding of Christianity in which the question of Truth or Christ has become an unavoidable starter question. For me, the question is fundamental, pressing, crucial – perhaps even long overdue.
Fyodor Dostoevsky noted the following on the subject of having to choose between truth and Christ, “If someone proved to me that Christ is outside the truth and that in reality the truth were outside of Christ, then I should prefer to remain with Christ rather than with the truth.”
What is Dostoevsky getting at here? If Jesus is Truth, then what sort of truth could He possibly be outside of? And if He is somehow outside the truth, then how could the truth be truth?
It is worth remembering Dostoevsky provided the world with one of the best fictional explorations of this seeming dilemma in The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor chapter in The Brothers Karamazov, which I keep returning to, again and again. In the LGI, the Grand Inquisitor acknowledges that Truth Jesus revealed to the world is the Truth but chastises Christ for overestimating humanity’s capacity to recognize and accept the Truth. The Grand Inquisitor insists that people will never be able to live up to Truth; consequently, the Truth that is Christ had to be corrected.
Thus, the Grand Inquisitor and his ilk dedicate their efforts to replacing Truth with truth – of substituting Christ with Miracle, Mystery, and Authority. People accept the truth the Grand Inquisitor offers because they believe it helps them to make sense of the world. More significantly, the Grand Inquisitor’s truth provides an apparently safe and logical framework for living in the world, all without the pesky burden of personal freedom Jesus reveals in the Truth.
Full acceptance of the Truth and commitment to its realization would shake the world to its very core. Intuiting this, people have opted to correct the Truth and “bring it down to earth” by adapting it to the societies and laws of this world, thus diluting Truth into truth – into something pragmatic, practical, sensible, reasonable and realistic. Into something that helps people to understand this world and live in it.
In this sense, there is a great deal of truth that outside of Christ. The only question that remains now is, where do you wish to remain?
With truth or with Christ?