Truth and Permanence

By Sigrid Fowler

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

            I don’t know much about gravity. Apparently, the whole thing puzzled even Einstein. It’s mysterious–something to ponder, something we take for granted. I’ve never, not once, worried about what will happen when I put my feet on the floor in the morning. I also don’t worry about floating out into space in the middle of the night because gravity just turned off. Bet you don’t either. 

            Something else I don’t wonder about is whether the sun will come up in the morning. It may be gray out, but the light will be there. I don’t spend two split seconds worrying about that. And what about the beautiful moonlight? I don’t keep up with the phases, but I sure would notice it if no moon showed up, night after night. I learned at the observatory at my college that on moonlit nights, you can’t really look at the stars. So darkness is good too. It’s all good, and I never give it a thought though I’m sometimes inclined to express my gratitude. There’s an order to it all and it doesn’t change. Will it rain? Will it be scorching hot? Will the deer eat my plants? These questions come to mind, but light and darkness, sun and moon, spring and summer, fall and winter are in a different category—permanent. Truth is like that.

            If you read the Bible in French, you’ll find that God is l’Eternel, “The Eternal,” or something like “the Forever One”—permanent. When we talk about truth, we’re suggesting some unchanging thing, something that doesn’t go away. People say, “your truth” or “his truth,” or “her truth.” The expression reflects the current belief that truth–the actual, rock-solid, unswerving truth—can’t be known, is not permanent. Though I will acknowledge that human life is full of unknowns, that there are plenty of things we’re unsure, even ignorant about, I won’t budge when it comes to the reality of truth. The best everyday example I can think of is the email address. If you get one dot wrong, you’ve missed the true address. Don’t put .org if it’s.com! The communication will bounce right back. True and absolute are related concepts, and they aren’t absent from the dizzyingly cyber-weary world we inhabit.

            The Bible often highlights the permanent. First, the Bible is itself an example: John, ending the Book with a letter-style closing, issues a warning about making even the slightest changes: “If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev 22: 19). Though translations differ, the concept of permanence occurs hundreds of times in the Bible. One source finds eternal forty-seven times in the Bible (kingjamesbibleonline.org/search.php?hs=1&q=eternal). Another lists forever 401 times (biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=forever&version=ESV). God promises Noah: “While the earth remains, / Seedtime and harvest,/ Cold and heat, / Winter and summer, / And day and night / Shall not cease” (Gen 8: 22). 

            Jesus Christ is set forth in the NT as Creator and in the language of permanence. John speaks of “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” then describes his existence as timeless: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him” (John 1: 1-3a KJV). Jesus says to some adversaries, “Your father, Abraham, rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” When they taunt him for claiming to know Abraham when he is less than fifty, he replies, “Truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8: 56-58). One psalmist provides an opening to the theme: “Of old, you laid the foundation of the earth, / And the heavens are the work of your hands. / They will perish, but you will endure; / Yes, they will grow old like a garment; / Like a cloak, you will change them, / And they will be changed. / But you are the same, / And your years will have no end” (Ps 102: 25-27). In the last book of the Bible, John reports the words of Jesus: “I am the alpha and the omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). That means permanent. Truth is like that.

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