The word ‘truth’ is misleading sometimes. For instance, when I believe something is the ‘truth,’ I become intense in support of it, and I push it to others. In spite of my good intention, pushing the ‘truth’ to others does more harm than good. I am like the North Wind of the Aesop’s Fable, who competed in vain with the Sun to unclothe the man. This is a big fallacy in the concept of Truth.
Many will be surprised to know, such a disservice with the Truth was what had happened in the history of the church. The fact is that it can more likely happen in the group who think they know and uphold the Truth. If they are not careful enough of the fallacy, they push their ‘truth’ into fanatics and compulsive followers. They usually do not stop there but even persecute those who do not accept their ‘truth.’ They judge, condemn, and kick the non-followers out of them, and they even kill their strong opponents. This is how Jesus was killed by the Jewish religious leaders, who thought they were upholding the Truth of God (cf. John 16:2).
This fallacy starts with a misconception of the Truth. It is right that we have to uphold the Truth, and the word of God is the Truth. Ironically, that conviction makes some fall. They believe that a piece of knowledge or opinion, as it is taken from or based on the word of God, is necessarily the Truth. What they have to know is that the Truth must be whole and perfect. The part taken from the whole is not the Truth. There is no such thing as a partial truth. This is a pitfall into which many people in the history of the church have fallen. Also, this is the error that gave birth to denominations and splits of the church.
Apostle Paul wrote two chapters to warn against this particular fallacy: Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. The former is regarding opinion (v.1) while the latter is about knowledge (v. 1). The right opinion is not excluded from the former. Surprisingly, the knowledge in the latter is that God is one and only (v. 4), which is an absolute Truth. However, according to the chapters, the opinion or the knowledge did not do good to all of the proponents. For them to do good as the Truth does, their proponents should know the whole Truth and act on it right.
Jesus was the origin of this teaching. He rebuked the Pharisees’ worship to God (Matt. 9:13; cf. Heb. 10:5-6). All creatures should worship God. That is an absolute Truth. However, Jesus disowned the Pharisees’ worship. What Jesus pointed out is that they should have worshipped God with the love of their neighbors (cf. Matt. 5:23-24). Unfortunately, Pharisees’ conviction to their ‘truth’ hardened their hearts not to get His words, and so they plotted to destroy Him.
Anything, even an absolute Truth, should be carried out in love (1 Cor. 16:14). That is the Truth above the truth (cf. 13:1-3). It is because the Truth is one and whole. No incomplete truth does good to anyone. Even teaching people the word of God should go together with a genuine love of them (cf. Eph. 4:15). “Anything” in 1 Corinthian 16:4 does not exclude teaching an absolute Truth, for instance, that God is the one and only and that all have to worship Him. Without love, one who thinks he or she is teaching the word of God, is not carrying out God’s Truth but his or her own truth, which can never save a soul. For this reason, having presented the Golden Rule, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father …” (Matthew 7:12, 21). Here, the will of the Father is for us to obey Jesus’ words (v. 24), and His words teach that we have to do everything complying with the Golden Rule, that is, agape love.