Beholder or Beholden?


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While I was listening to the recent Congressional Hearing that is supposedly “in aid of legislation,” what caught my attention was what one lawmaker said among other things that were said during that hearing. I will not write anymore about the apparent questionable (read: malicious) line of questioning that our “honorable” lawmakers employed. Our netizens already had a field day. 

That lawmaker intoned, “Truth is in the eye of the beholder.”

Now that’s an interesting play of words. The original saying says, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” 
A beholder is an observer: someone who gains awareness of things through the senses, especially sight. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the person who is observing gets to decide what is beautiful. A common saying is “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” which means beauty doesn’t exist on its own but is created by observers. [1]
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What the lawmaker said is in effect another way of saying, “What’s true for you may not be true for me.” Now, I agree that what may be beautiful for one person may not be to another person. But truth is different from beauty. Whether we agree with it or not, whether we appreciate it or not, we don’t get to decide what’s truth or not truth. We don’t create truth. Truth is truth. 
…truth is absolute—an objective reality. Truth isn’t personal, and it doesn’t belong to me or to you. Whether everyone, or most, or few, or nobody believes it, truth is what matched up with what’s real. In other words, It’s true, so that settles it, whether or not I believe it. … “Truth is what matches reality.” Or again, “Truth matches the facts.” … Another way to describe truth is to say, “Truth is telling it like it is.” What we claim to be true must match the way things really are. [2]
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The fact of truth is different from the act of appreciating or accepting the truth. For example, the fact that a swimming pool is 10-foot deep is the truth. (Or to those who would insist on the metric system, 3.05 meters.) Whether it’s too deep or shallow depends on whether the person diving into it knows how to swim or not. That’s the appreciation or acceptance of the truth. 

Why do we need to know about this? It’s because our Lord Jesus made a truth claim. He declared, 
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV. Emphasis added.)
If truth depends on how we see it, then even if Jesus claimed to be the way to God the Father, there could be other ways to Him. If truth depends on whether we appreciate it or not, even if He claimed to be the truth, then there could be other sources of truth out there regarding God. If truth depends on whether we accept it or not, even if He claimed to be the life, then there could be other sources of eternal life. His declaration would not make sense at all if we agree that truth is in the eye of the beholder. 

You may choose to believe or not to believe in the Lord. That’s up to you. But the truth remains: if Jesus is not your way, you are lost. If He is not your truth, you are in error. If He is not your life, then you are good as dead. 

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The beholder is free to see the truth the way he sees it. But that doesn’t change the truth. We are actually beholden to the truth. We are responsible for how we would respond to the truth, not for defining or deciding what is truth.

Brothers and sisters, we are beholden to the truth, not just beholders of it.

[1] “Beholder,” Vocabulary.com, https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/beholder, accessed November 26, 2016. Emphasis added.

[2] Norman L. Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe, Reasons For Belief: Easy-to-Understand Answers to 10 Essential Questions (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2013), 16, 17. Italics theirs.

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