“What is truth?” said Pontius Pilate when Jesus Christ had stated “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Maybe Pilate was being cynical as a politically aware governor, maybe he was just musing philosophically. Whatever (as they frequently say these days), is the question of truth in religion an important one for most people today, I ask?
For many people, “is it true?” isn’t the most urgent of questions they have about a religion. They are more concerned with image (what it looks like) or emotion (what it feels like) and often with its practical consequences, whether it does good in the world on balance, or the opposite. But surely for a religion the question of its truth or falsehood is a basic one to ask, even if the answers may be hard to know. Many of the claims made by religions are not amenable to scientific enquiry, but that perhaps only shows the limitations of scientific enquiry. Scientific evidence is not the only kind of evidence valid in this world.
I am a Christian because I believe Jesus Christ (not just in Jesus Christ) and because I believe the claims of Christianity to be true and sufficient for life here and in eternity. I do not belong to any other religion because I believe that some of their claims are false, or at least inadequate for living in the light of eternity. There are some attractive features of most other religions (as well as some ugly ones) but, unless the religion is true, I don’t want to follow it. The reasons that I believe Christianity to be true are mainly related to Jesus Himself: his words, his actions, his character, his Divine claims, above all his self-sacrificing love all have the “ring of truth” about them; so does the evidence for his resurrection.
Well, you say: You believe one thing and I another. Yes, and thank God that we are still free in this country to practise our faiths. No one should be forced either to accept or to deny any religion, either by the State or by zealots of another religion or by atheists. The State’s role with religion should not be to suppress it, but to make violence and unfair types of persuasion illegal, i.e. to be a kind of moderator, and also to use the goodwill of many religious people for the common good.