On January 8th, 2011, there was a showdown between truth and error in the Tuscan, Arizona shooting. Although this is not the first time the notion of truth has been found at the center of a conflict. The grizzly murders stand as a stark reminder to what can occur when truth is abandoned in the life of an individual. To the alleged murderer, Jared Loughner, the very idea of “truth” was simply nonsensical. This belief seemingly created a space in the mental outlook of this young man for murder to be justified.
On January 16,2011, 60 Minutes aired a segment called: Tucson: Descent Into Madness. The segment takes the idea of truth off the top shelf of philosophical heavyweights like Socrates, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Immanuel Kant and puts it in the hands of Jared Loughner, a young man who “believed in nothingness” and that “words are meaningless.” The segment recalls how, at a “town hall” meeting in 2007, Loughner expressed his view of truth in a question he asked of his Congressional representative, Gabrielle Gifford. The question was: “What is government if words have no meaning?” Representative Gifford chose to not answer the question for unspecified reasons. The response of represetative Gifford apparently offended Loughner and led to the attempt murder of representative Gifford over three years later (January 8, 2011) at another district meeting.
Watch 2:54-4:59. Sorry for the commercial. I could not find this clip without it. If you can, please email me and I will update. FWIW: Notice the ridiculous nature of the subject and the caricature of a “man” in a cool car in his adventure of travelling down a desert highway.
The issue of what is true is ages old. During the interrogation of Jesus Christ, Pilate wonders out-loud about the nature of truth when Jesus declares everyone on the side of truth will embrace His Kingship:
[Jesus said] “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 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.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. Jn 18:36-38.
This isn’t the first time that Jesus had connected Himself with truth. The Gospel of John alone is replete with references to Jesus being the very expression of truth.
In John 1:14, the Apostle John says that … “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
John 5:33 says, “You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.”
John. 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 15:26 Jesus says that “… when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”
Again, Jesus says in John 16:13 that “when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
So, we can conclude from this that the notion of something being true was directly connected to the very Being of Jesus Christ. The actions that Jesus did and the teaching that Jesus gave are, by the very definition of the word, true. I take this to mean that Jesus expressed absolute reality, a picture of trustworthiness, a perfect representation of what can be relied on. But what qualifies Jesus to make such a statement? If we would extract the teaching of Jesus from the actions of Jesus, we would simply have the rhetoric of a great teacher encased in a not-so-stable person, a.k.a., “a nut case.”
However, in Jesus we see a person who displayed power over life, death, and nature, a power that can only be attributable to the Creator of the world. Therefore, this qualifies Jesus the right to claim to be “the truth.” It is clear that the reality that we call “life” and “death” and “nature” all bow to His spoken word and eternal intension. Could this be accidental? No. Jesus clearly knew the absolute nature of what He was claiming as evidenced in His demands for exclusive obedience in the application of His teaching.
Although I can’t speak to the entire mental stability of Jared Loughner, I can tell you that there was a showdown in his mind between truth on January 8th, 2011. The death of John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman, Phyllis Schneck, Dorothy Morris and Christina-Taylor Green stand as a memorial. We don’t know when Jared killed the notion of truth in his own mind, but we do know that it served as a precursor to what would happen on that fateful day. The murder of these innocent people should remind of us all that there are consequences to what a person believes about what is true and the choices that are made on the basis of this belief. Jared Loughner whether willfully or negligently rejected the Kingship of Jesus Christ in his life. The outcome of this rejection was a horrific crime that should drive us all to reconsider the position that King Jesus has in our lives.