Not the Whole Truth
by Paul Hazelden


We want to know the whole truth, but all we can get is partial truth.

In the court, you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But everyone understands that this is supposed to be only the relevant whole truth, and we rarely get even that.

I suspect that, at times, our desire for the whole truth leads us to assume that the truth we already know is the whole truth; and this leads us into serious new problems.


An old saying: theology is true in what it affirms, and false in what it denies.

The same is true for politics. And probably for most other areas of life.

On the whole, we embrace a position because it says something good and important; and we put up with it in the areas where it is uncoimfortable. These often seem to be the consequences of the original position - the 'therefore's.

The example of this I have been using for years is in the theological realm of Calvinism. The Calvinist, to paraphrase horribly, says, "God is sovereign, therefore man is not free." The other side responds with "Man is free, therefore God is not sovereign."

We can see the same thing happening in politics. The Conservative says, "The talented and hard-working must be free to enjoy the fruit of their labour, therefore we must reduce the burden of taxes." The Socialist says, "The weak and poor need to be cared for, therefore we must protect them from the strong and powerful."

In all these cases, the starting point is fine, but what is seen to follow from the starting point is a real problem.

In each case, what you believe is true, but it is not the whole truth. The whole truth is much larger, stranger and more difficult than the neat, packaged thing we find comfortable to work with.

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Copyright © 2011 Paul Hazelden was last updated 13 November 2011
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