Susan C. Anthony

Shades of GrayShades of Gray

What is truth? Pilate asked Jesus that question before the Crucifixion. John 14:6 has the answer. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. 1 John 5:6 says the Holy Spirit is the truth, and 1 Samuel 15:29 says that the Glory of Israel (God the Father) does not lie.

What about Satan? In John 8:44, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees. He says, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Some people say Christians are narrow-minded because we believe there is only one truth. Some of our teens are graduating and will be going to college next year. If you went to college before the 1990s, you might be shocked at what most college professors are saying about truth. It’s called “postmodernism” and the basic idea is there is no such thing as truth.

Before about 1750, no one doubted the existence of a god or gods. The arguments about truth had to do with which god was the true god. When science began to unlock nature’s secrets, the modern age began. People believed reason and science would solve all problems. There were no limits to what mankind could do. Anything supernatural was thought to be superstition.

After the atomic bomb was dropped in World War II, people’s faith in science began to fade. In the 1960s, young people openly questioned the motives of authorities and experts. “Truth” became relative.

You’ve heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Postmodernism says truth is in the eye of the beholder. What’s true for one person may not be true for another. We create our own “truth” rather than discover it outside ourselves. Everything is relative. There is no center.

Susan is going to sing a song she learned in high school, Shades of Gray. It is a good example of what’s known as postmodern thinking:

When the world and I were young, just yesterday,
Life was such a simple game a child could play.
It was easy then to tell right from wrong,
Easy then to tell weak from strong.
When a man should stand and fight,
Or just go along.

But today there is no day or night.
Today there is no dark or light.
Today there is no black or white.
Only shades of gray.

I remember when the answers seemed so clear.
We had never lived in doubt or tasted fear.
It was easy then to tell truth from lies,
Selling out from compromise.
Who to love and who to hate,
The foolish from the wise.

But today there is no day or night.
Today there is no dark or light.
Today there is no black or white.
Only shades of gray.

Shades of gray. Students in most colleges these days are taught that it’s impossible to know truth. Something might be true for you, but that doesn’t make it true for me. “Truth” is simply what works, or what makes you happy. You should question and distrust all authorities. Life is meaningless. Feeling is more important than thinking. We should be tolerant of everything, because we can never really KNOW anything. It is wrong to impose our idea of truth on anyone else.

One problem, of course, is that postmodern thinkers makes an ABSOLUTE claim that truth is RELATIVE. They don’t say truth is relatively relative, they say it’s ABSOLUTELY relative. They break their own rules from the start.

Students in high school and college, especially secular college, will learn these ideas. Many professors now believe that knowledge is created by individual students rather than imparted or taught by the instructor. It’s a lot different than it was when I was in college.

It’s extremely important for young people and all of us to know why we believe the Bible. Jesus prays in John 17:17: "Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth." Jesus is the living Word; the Bible is the written Word. God's Word is truth.

How do we know that the Bible is true? For one thing, hundreds of specific prophecies have been fulfilled. There are at least 200 prophecies about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, in the Old Testament. All of them were fulfilled hundreds of years after they were written. That couldn’t possibly happen naturally. It could only happen supernaturally.

When you know the Bible is God’s Word, not just another book, you will know there is real truth. You can stake your life on it. You can trust it even when you don’t understand it. It will light your way in the darkest of times.

Postmodern thinking is not really new. In Isaiah 59, before Israel was sent into exile, God searched for truth and justice in Israel, but He did not find it. This is what He said:

Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice.

God does not see things as shades of gray. He sees in black and white. Only God knows the whole truth, and sees the smallest sin as black. But He loves us so much that He made a way for us to become clean in His sight. He wants us to hate lies and cling to truth, whatever the cost.

God is pure truth, pure white. The devil is pure black and has no truth in him. While on earth, we are shades of gray. Some are dark gray and some are lighter gray. But all of us have fallen short of God’s glory.

A student in one of Susan’s 6th grade classes here in Anchorage wrote a poem about gray. It has come to mind in many everyday situations when I have to make a choice between doing what’s right and doing what’s easy.

Gray is the essence of evil, it's the brother of black. Gray traps you, and pulls you to night.

Gray is the essence of evil. We know to avoid what is clearly black, but we can be tempted and trapped by gray.

Note:  This talk was presented by my husband Dennis at our small church.

Go on to read Reflections on the Salmon
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