How can you know who is telling the truth? “First, choose the news media who tell you what you want to hear.” Most people choose the side they want and they assert that it is the truth. They do not think or care that they are complying with slander. Furthermore, some struggle to choose any view as they sift through numerous scenarios as possibly true. However, those who honestly seek the truth have a method for testing and finding the truth.
Some assert, “Science is the truth. Full stop. Nothing more to say.” However, scientists often do not have direct access to the objects of their study. Their observations and inferences also coincide and build on their learning from reports of research that others claim. When scientists rely on reports, they are relying on past reports as historical documents by which they accept certain claims as the basis for further study and research. The public commonly accepts the idea that science is a purely objective field. However, many scientists trust claims from papers in journals as their peers test the reliability by their acceptance. The scientist has no better grounds to trust the historicity of scientific claims than historians do for trusting ancient historical sources and artifacts. However, people know facts by examining sources.
Ancient Christians had biblical tactics to filter through claims, keep the facts, and remove assertions and opinions. Jesus taught that the testimony of two witnesses is true and He subjected Himself to pass that same test (John 5:30–47; 8:17–18; Acts 1:3). The first Christians had a way to identify false claims and warn others. The earliest Christian leaders taught believers to test everything so that they would hold fast to the good and abstain from evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19–21). The apostle John commanded believers to test for false teachers (1 John 4:1–6). Even in Christian assemblies, the attendants were to test and weigh what they heard (1 Corinthians 14:29). They did this according to a standard of evidence as stated, “Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1b ESV).
The standard of evidence throughout time has been the acceptance of two or three witnesses as is the minimum and sufficient foundation of proving facts (Deuteronomy 19:15). From Israel’s ancient republic to the Roman corpus of Law, ancient people knew how to weigh evidence often better than people today who make claims that contradict and ignore facts to suit their wants. In recent history, English common law has passed this standard forward with the application for law today, as it is present in section 3 of article 3 in the U.S. Constitution. Ancient Israel and early Christians had a way to discover if sources were presenting the truth by cross-examining them (Deuteronomy 13:14; 17:4; 19:16–21). These witnesses included primary sources such as eyewitnesses, records from witnesses, and trace evidence (Exodus 22:9–15; Deuteronomy 19; 22:13–21; 31:26; Joshua 4:22).
The idea that eyewitnesses are not reliable for acquiring facts is self-defeating. The individual who asserts that people cannot know what is true by witnesses and reports does so by bearing witness of one’s own experience with or without anyone to attest and authenticate that claim. No report can withstand the self-defeat of asserting that reports are not reliable. No witness can withstand the assertion that witnesses are unreliable.
Today, Christians have the same standard and method to examine claims including a way to test and attest to the authenticity of the faith. The faithful stand by evidence having cross-examined and now defending the Gospels as witnesses for Jesus of Nazareth’s claims to be the Son of God. Furthermore, Christians also have this standard to resist complying with slander and gossip in the community, in the news media, and within the church (Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19). The faithful stand on primary sources rather than on the secular practice of relying on stacked claims from secular sources supported by their peers.
Thank God that He gave humanity a way to test all things and hold to that which is good! “Test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21–22).