According to the dictionary these words have different meanings. You may have two reports of an accident, both are true ‘reporting on an accident’, but to discover the truth we have to ask not only How, (the details, or facts can be distorted) but Why did it happen (was there a reason)? Social media is often guilty of disinformation on an incident, or a speech, or a character, or a situation. We have to constantly ask not only ‘Is it accurate, but is it true?’

After reading the weekend newspaper I put it down feeling bewildered, confused and little the wiser. Blame my intellectual capacity to comprehend and correctly analyze the plethora of articles on geopolitics, economic and financial reports, social unrest and protests, world disorder, international realignments, the recurring outbreak of war, the increasing pollution and endless corruption, but as an ordinary citizen, knowing that the paper itself has a built in bias, containing opinion and interpretation of facts; I was left wondering what factors are missing, what is accurate and what is true? What conflicting reports we have had of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

When I read a novel I know it is a fictional presentation, or imaginative reconstruction that may contain some truth in the narrative. If it is poetry I know it is a personal interpretation of observed or experienced reality. If I read travel, or biography I know it is one person’s account of life experiences which may be a mixture of accuracy and truth. I know I cannot attribute the different literary genre with unqualified authenticity. This is a conclusion I must remember when I read the Bible which, though being one book, contains all the writing styles I have already mentioned and others.

The Bible does contain contradictions, duplications, misunderstandings, myths, architypes and metaphors. It is a selection of documents from a number. Its truth does not lie in the wording to be regarded as infallible. Its truth lies hidden in the overall message it contains of the slow human recognition of a Power greater than ourselves through which the universe came into being and a Person (Jesus) who personified the truthful nature of that Power in his life and ministry which opened a new era and turned the world upside down.

Human thinking particularly in the West, has been trained to be dualistic; reality consisting of only two basic principles; either/or, us versus them, black and white, divine and human, spirit and matter. Alan Watts writes, ’We divide in thought what is undivided in nature’. A certain level of dualistic thinking is necessary for our safety to do or not to do things, but for solving social, moral, spiritual and emotional issues it is inadequate. It creates division between people, between ourselves and the world, between East and West, between liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, traditional and progressive, mysticism and activism, evangelical and charismatic.

Jesus was a non-dual thinker. He saw a Samaritan, a tax collector, a leper, a centurion, a prostitute, (all accurate details), but simultaneously he saw the truth a human being made in the image of God not an ‘enemy’ or ‘alien’. He saw a sparrow, a seed, a dying thief, but simultaneously his Father’s providential purpose and loving outreach. He refused to condemn a woman caught in the act of adultery and the Samaritan woman at the well and saw them as people hungry for attention and love. He disputed the interpretation of scholars saying, ‘but I say’. He saw beyond the outward appearance of Peter who, regardless of accurate personal, emotional, psychological details, possessed a volcano of potential leadership qualities.

During the years of Afrikaner National rule we saw accurate details, but we did not see the truth. Certain doors, shop counters, seats, carriages and entire beaches made exclusive because we saw the accurate detail of skin colour, but not a people with dignity and feelings. Accuracy devoid of truth! Accuracy can be measured, but truth can be experienced. Accuracy can be calculated and proven, but truth is holistic combining all the relevant factors in a unity of being. Accuracy can imprison, but truth sets us free.

We must look beyond what confronts the eye, sometimes in puzzling, disturbing detail and ask, “Who is this person?”, “Where are they coming from?“, “What are the reasons for their actions?”, “What are their hopes, experiences, aspirations, fears, needs, longings?”. “What are they really saying?” We must not be misled by loud opinion, persuasive, authoritarian arguments, or fabricated, glamourised presentations devoid of truth. We have the task of distinguishing what is accurate and what is truth – even in this meditation!

Jesus is the truth about God’s real nature (infinite power and compassion), about being truly human (we belong to one another), about prayer and action (an expression of God in us), about life’s essential purpose (to live in freedom and light), about who we are collectively and as individuals (God’s creation).