Did God really need to become man in order to testify to the truth? He is truth and He can be found in his creation through the use of reason. That said, in his Summa Theologica, Aquinas argued that He did in fact need to become Incarnate to reveal himself to man, lest only a few people come to know him, and that over a long period of time and with an admixture of error (ST I, q. 1, a.1). God did come to reveal himself to mankind yet not for his sake, rather for ours. God is love and came into the world to testify to this grand truth. Truth, then, requires testimony.
In defense of truth
In the fields of science and mathematics, this is seen in the acquisition of knowledge through the proving of particular truths. This is true even regarding the truth of the senses—that which is seen, heard and touched. The Apostles, for example, who lived with and learned from our Lord testified to their sense experience of him even unto death. Man does this very thing everyday when he stands up for something important. This could regard real truths such as standing up and fighting for the dignity of marriage or the right to life. It can also be in smaller things or perceived truths, such as arguing who is the better football team or quarterback.
The Church has long argued that the dignity of man is rooted in his ability to think, in the faculty of the intellect. Human beings don’t simply live and thrive according to their nature, as animals do. Rather, they live according to how they choose. Man is capable of living according to truth, whether natural or divine, if he orders his intellect to it. On the other hand, he is also susceptible of being led astray by the unscrupulous, who can deposit something in his mind through the senses with the aim of manipulating truth. Therein is the power of lies. Lies represent a real threat because, great or small, they manipulate one toward someone else’s good or agenda.
The Church safeguards reason
We should not be surprised then that the Church is ever so defensive of the good of reason, as it is the good of human beings. If reason is not safeguarded, mankind is not protected. The Church reserves by divine appointment the right and duty to condemn that which passes for knowledge lest anyone be led astray by misguided philosophy and empty pursuit. It is therefore understandable why the world is so antagonistic toward the Church, most overtly since the time of the Enlightenment, when it seems man has redefined truth and therefore his final cause of communion with God.
As a result, the culture in which we live today is crying out for God, for truth, but it is unaware of this. It is our duty as Christians to live according to the truths set before us by the Church in order to testify to God’s love and man’s intended end. When we fail to do so, as already seen, society’s ability to reason to the truth is impaired. This should be of no surprise for truth-not-testified, tends to leave the world.
Are we testifying to truth or condoning it?
Consequently, it is at such a time, that as Christians, as Catholics, we ought to take a deep look within ourselves to see whether or not we are truly living the Gospel. Are we testifying in word and deed to God as our merciful Father and just Judge? Is the Gospel the measure of our lives? Do we proclaim the Gospel and do our best to lead others to it? If not, we are abusing the gift of speech by either encouraging or condoning that which is not true. This is clearly seen today, even among Christians, who identify themselves as Catholics or Christians, yet who through a false sense of compassion testify otherwise in their lives, perhaps in efforts to be supportive of someone or for fear of rejection or a broken relationship. This false sense of compassion is especially prevalent when it comes to speaking the truth with family members or friends who struggle to live according to the Gospel and subsequently embrace polarized viewpoints of God—either God does not exist or He is all loving and willing to overlook a life of willfully committed sin (ie. Sin does not exist).
These are the times in which we live. This is our reality today. As Catholics, as Christians, we must commit to examine our lives to see if we are truly witnessing to the Gospel in word and in deed. This witness, however, must be a witness to true Love, to a redeeming Love. Our testimony of a Gospel-lived life must lift those around us to the Person of Jesus, especially those struggling to live according to truth. It is only through a lived encounter with him that man’s mind will be fully illuminated to the divine truths and a life-long conversion.
Director of Religious Education