How much of what you believe is true? And how, in your head, does an idea gets placed on the “really true” shelf? Here’s a little true-false quiz. (No need for “test panic”–I’ll give you my answers as we go along. See if you agree with them.)

You know something is really true because–

Your mom or dad told it to you. (F) Not always a dependable proof of truth. My own dad told me a few things he thought were true, but they turned out not to be. He was probably told them by his own father. I’ve told people things I thought were true, until to my horror I realized they weren’t. For years I believed (and often repeated) that General Dwight Eisenhower had gotten a preemptive appendectomy so that he wouldn’t have to deal with a burst appendix during World War II. Great story, but not true.

Someone with a PhD and a couple of post-doctoral degrees told it to you. (F) On one of my bookshelves I have a delightful volume called, ironically, The Experts Speak. It is filled with real quotes from really educated people of the past few centuries which are utterly non-factual or fallacious.

Your pastor told it to you. (F) Not always reliable, because pastors can innocently repeat something from a non-verified tradition rather than strict Bible truth.

The Bible says it. I’ll put a reverent “F” here too, but only because once in a a great while Bible people told lies, innocently or deliberately. Satan (whom Jesus contemptuously called “the father of lies”) made several assertions, some of them containing just enough half-truth to make them doubly dangerous. And when the drama of Job has wound its way to the end, we find the Lord telling Job that his three friends, and the fourth hanger-on, had not spoken of Him what was right. So don’t quote from Job unless you see that it’s Job talking. How do you know which parts of the Bible are true? Just read every passage in its context, like you’d do with any book or article. You’ll pick up what’s suspect–such as when Goliath obtusely told David he would feed that young shepherd to the birds of the air. Didn’t happen.

So be careful out there, okay? I might come back to this topic in a later blog and give more examples, but stay ready to abandon what you’ve been told is true in favor of better truth.