The Appearance and Essence of Truth

“In order to say how something is real, that is, to speak truthfully, one’s views and thoughts must be directed toward what is real in God and through God and for God. Every word that I speak is governed by the requirement to be true. Quite apart from the truthfulness of its content, the relationship that it expresses between me and another person is already true or untrue. I can flatter, I can be arrogant, or I can be a hypocrite, without speaking a material untruth, and my word will still be untrue, because I am undermining and destroying the truth of the relationship of husband and wife, of superior and subordinate, and so forth. The individual word is always part of a total reality that comes to expression in words. Depending on whom I am speaking to, by whom I am asked, about what I am speaking, my words must vary if they are to be truthful. The truthful word is not something that is constant in itself. Rather, it is as alive as life itself. When it is separated from life and relationships with particular other people, when “the truth is told” without considering the person to whom I am telling it, then it has the appearance but not the essence of truth.”

— I Want to Live These Days with You: A Year of Daily Devotions by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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