The danger of truth


“Now we have found common ground to stand on. Establish the facts, no matter what comes of it.”

“On that ground, Lord Peter,” said the Warden, “your inquisitiveness becomes a principle. And a very dangerous one.”

Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night

One of the themes of Gaudy Night is fidelity to the truth, whatever the consequences. Jesus (famously) said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But in this post-modern “what is truth” culture, we don’t seem to believe that. Even Christians who speak against a post-modern ethic of relative truth often don’t act as though they believe the truth will set us free when it comes to the truth about our failings and faults: the truth about our sin.
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Are we merely truthy, so long as it doesn’t conflict with our other values or needs? Shouldn’t truth be a non-negotiable, a hill to die on?  It seems like we prefer to temper truth with “other considerations.”  Rather than agreeing with Jesus, we agree with James Garfield that, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable,” or even, “The truth will make you miserable.” Frankly we don’t do miserable well. So the truth sometimes has to be sacrificed for comfort.

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


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