David Irving is a renowned historian and writer who denies the holocaust. He decides to sue author and historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel, for comments she has made about him in her books.
Deborah finds herself on the back foot, having to prove her own views about the reality of the holocaust, so she hires a team of crack lawyers and after much discussion and prep the case begins.
It proves to be a difficult and complex trial, not least because David Irving is a clever and persuasive man. Proving the truth is not always easy or straightforward. Arguments and ‘facts’ can be manipulated and distorted. The Psalmist writes about being surrounded by liars and evil people, (see Psalm 43 for example) feeling himself alone in a sea of treachery. He cries out for the light and truth of God to show him the way forward. It must be deeply disturbing, terrifying even, when others manipulate lies and call them truth.
Jesus described himself as the truth, and he spoke of the truth setting us free. But his enemies accused him of being false. Every day he faced a barrage from those who wished to shout him down. Jesus also spoke about knowing a tree from the fruit it bears, implying that the fruit we bear often shows who we are. Words can be a smoke screen, but what we do can clear the air. Jesus’s life spoke of truth and justice. And when his enemies got rid of him to silence him, it didn’t last long. The Truth rose again, Justice conquered lies and murder. We have just celebrated Easter. A story that continues to resonate in the lives of those who have found Jesus to be the truth that sets us free. We continue to battle with fake news and half-truths, but I’m grateful for biblical wisdom, which keeps drawing us back to life-affirming truth.
There is a line I love in the film Dead Poets Society, ‘Truth is like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.’ And I do think that truth on its own is not enough for us complex mortals. In Jesus we find truth mixed with love, honesty infused with kindness, all offered to us to help us, heal us, inspire us and set us free.
‘Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!
Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven.’ So we are assured in Psalm 85 verses 10 and 11. This is what I need, this is what we need, so much in our chaotic lives and stumbling world. Love, truth, peace and the smile of God in the depths of our being.