Reviewed by Liz Willis
More>Truth is Kristi Mair’s great addition to the IVP ‘More’ series, which aims to help readers connect the Bible’s wisdom to some of the biggest issues we face in our fast-paced, postmodern world. In just 126 pages, she shows us the dilemma at the heart of our culture – that we are at the same time suspicious of claims to absolute truth and desperate to know truth, to know we’re not being lied to. After helping us see how we got to this cultural moment, Mair holds up Jesus Christ as the Truth and explores the implications of this for our understanding of what truth is like and how we can live and speak in truth. There are many reasons that More Truth is worth reading, but here are some of my favourites.
It understands our world
Welcome to the world of post-truth. You can identify its impact in the weariness printed across our foreheads. We are tired. Tired of hearing everybody’s truth just to be misled. Tired of wondering what truth is and whether it’s even possible to know something truly. But something in us just can’t give up…Something deep within us calls for truth. (p2) One of the real strengths of the book is Mair’s analysis of how truth is regarded in our culture today and why. Her sketches of the effects of ‘post-truth’ in our divided world all feel very current and familiar, from her depiction of the cynicism and distrust that so often accompanies truth claims to the way she describes the fear around how truth relates to power. She manages to capture not only the facts but the feelings of our culture’s struggle with truth. As a reader you feel she really knows the issues, and that she is speaking with relevance to some of the most potent questions about truth at this moment: Can we really know truth with any certainty? If there is such thing as truth, where do we find it? Is truth safe, or does it just divide?
Alongside this concern to understand and articulate how our wrestling with truth feels in our culture today, Mair is also unafraid of being counter-cultural. This book calls Christians not to abandon the idea of real, objective truth – especially the truth claims about Jesus that are unpopular in our current climate – but rather to stand by truth confidently. This call feels compelling because Mair helps us understand so clearly the struggles and contradictions at the heart of our culture’s relationship with truth.
It aims to grow disciples
We fight lies by standing in the truth. Standing firm. And we stand firm by actively calling to mind and physically walking in the truth of the gospel; in our listening and our doing. (p101) More Truth doesn’t stop short at convincing us that truth is a real thing that can be known. In her relentless focus on Jesus as Truth himself, Mair encourages us to grow as followers of Jesus. She wants us to live as those who know, love, live and speak truth because Truth lives in us and gave himself for us. This was probably my favourite thing about the book and I found myself repeatedly challenged about how knowing Truth himself should hit the road in my life in a variety of ways. Jesus’s words to Pilate are startling: ‘those who belong to truth listen to my voice’ (John 18:37). Jesus says what we belong to, we listen to: those who belong to Truth listen to Truth himself. The thing is, we are always listening to something and it isn’t always Jesus (p72)
Mair wants us to grasp that being people of ‘truth’ isn’t simply about head knowledge of certain facts. Our hearts and wills are meant to be caught up in the truth too – by listening to Jesus’s voice of truth and discerning lies around us; by being quick to confess and repent, turning consistently back to Truth; by speaking truth to others, and by sharing the joy that comes from knowing Truth himself.
A book written on the topic of truth for today’s world could so easily have stopped at providing some strong arguments for the existence and reasonableness of absolute truth claims. But Mair goes further than this, devoting the second half of the book (about six chapters) to exploring the implications of truth being personal and relational rather than merely propositional. She wants us to be disciples of Truth himself so that we can point the way to him in a world that both resists and longs for truth. This emphasis makes More Truth a really refreshing, practical and Christ-centred take on the topic.
It has an evangelistic heart
Although often directed towards Christian readers, Mair reveals an evangelist’s heart in her call for followers of Truth himself to live and speak in a way that commends him. Chapter 11 on engaging the apathetic, sceptical and truth-seekers offers a compassionate example of how to receive our friends’ struggles with truth, as well as practical ways we can unmask wrong thinking about truth claims and point to the answers found in Jesus.
Again, there is no speech–life divide here: we are called to both speak up for truth with rational argument, and at the same time to stand by our words by living truth-filled lives that witness to what we’re saying. And that note of confidence that marks the whole book is here too – because whatever culture says now about truth, Jesus remains the same and we are to be his witnesses:
The beauty of the Great Commission is that Truth finishes these words saying that he will be with us to the very end of the age. To the end of our post-truth age or whatever age we ‘progress’ into next, Truth comes with us…Truth does not leave us alone. Truth comes with us. Truth lives in us. Truth speaks for himself through his Word. We have the liberating privilege of being those who point to Truth. (p123)
It puts Jesus at the centre
There’s so much here in this short, conversational book: a whistle-stop tour of the Bible storyline and the history of philosophical thought about truth; reflections on our ‘post-truth’ world; explorations of how we know what we know – the list goes on. But in the end, More Truth is foundationally about Jesus Christ. You could give it to Christian friends of all ages and stages, as well as to a friend who is seeking after truth but doesn’t yet know Truth himself.
More Truth wants us all to place our confidence and hope in Jesus, because in him we find God’s real, living and satisfying Truth – and that is its greatest recommendation. As Mair concludes, ‘Truth is real, Truth has flesh, Truth walked among us. And Truth’s name is Jesus Christ.’
is Research Fellow at Oak Hill College, and is pursuing a PhD in aspects of epistemology at The University of Birmingham This review by Liz Willis of UCCF was first published at Be:Thinking.org, here.