Author: Steven Ruane
Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.
Over the Upham Arch are the words, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” I have always thought it peculiar that a public university would have a Bible verse engraved into one of its academic buildings, but I think its presence reveals something encouraging to the gospel mission. God has put into the heart of every man and woman a craving for the truth. We see the fruits of this innate desire for truth every day—it lies behind every academic endeavor we undertake and it is an essential part of what makes our school a school. People want to know the truth.
This universal desire encourages me because when people set out in search of the truth, whether they know it or not, they actually set out in search of God. Jesus says, “I am the Truth,” and indeed He and all His claims are true. Thus we should be encouraged by our peers’ pursuit of truth, for with every step they take closer to it, they at the same time take a step closer to finding God.
I saw this play out once in a beginner level philosophy class while we were discussing Nietzsche and the origin of what we now call good and evil. Philosophy has the reputation of being in opposition to Christianity. Heading off to college, I heard perhaps twenty times the anecdotal warning of a lifelong believer curiously walking into a philosophy class, only to have his faith demolished by what he studied therein. My experience, however, has been greatly different than that solemn story.
I do not think we as Christians need to fear any subject, be it philosophy, science, mathematics, psychology, or anything, because if Jesus is the truth, then we have nothing to fear from academia. Rather, we should press in boldly and assuredly, encouraging our peers to do the same, knowing that Jesus is the glorious answer to every inquiry. In the case of my philosophy class, I watched as fifteen self-identified atheists or agnostics nervously admitted that given their worldview, there is no solid ground for morality, and therefore, in the absence of a Law-Giver, everything we perceive as right and wrong is mere illusory.
They may not know it, and they may have many to go, but everyone in that class just took a step toward Jesus. Their desire for truth, should they continue to chase it, will push my philosophy classmates past their current beliefs to something better and fuller, to the drink which quenches all thirsts. I believe we all thirst for that which only Jesus offers: we thirst for meaning and purpose, we thirst for justice and security, we thirst for love and acceptance, we thirst for hope and a future—we thirst for a truth which will set us free.
The message on the arch attests to this deep longing to look into the reality of the universe and find that it is good news. I praise God for this longing, for if as St. Augustine famously writes, “Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee,” then that yearning will push our peers into the arms of a Lord, Savior, Father, and Friend—to the One who spoke the words under which they walk every day—and to the One who says to them now, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Now that truth is good news indeed, and it is my prayer that all who seek shall find it.