Truth, the Daughter of Time
Basket of Figs, January, 2004
The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he over throweth the words of the transgressor. Prov. 22:12
This preacher has lived long enough to see the truth of the proverb. A book that had a profound effect on me as a young man was Whitaker Chamber’s great book Witness. People under forty probably don’t even know who Whitaker Chambers was, but he was the senior editor of Time that gave evidence against Alger Hiss before the House Un-American Activities Committee, headed by a young congressman from California named Richard Nixon.
Chamber’s testimony touched off the “Red Scare,” and launched the career of Nixon. The whole liberal establishment was up in arms, because Chambers said that Hiss was a member of a secret Communist spy cell reaching clear to the state department, for Hiss was a top aid to Owen Latimore, Secretary of State under Harry Truman. It was a great issue in the election of 1948, which Truman won by a whisker, after trailing Dewey throughout the campaign. The election was complicated by the rebellion of the Southern “Dixiecrats” who ran Strom Thurman as the Democratic candidate of the South. Truman labeled the whole Hiss thing a “red herring.”
Hiss went to prison for perjury and became a martyr for liberalism, especially in the higher education establishment, who used him as an example of how good people were persecuted by conservatives.
But truth is the daughter of time. Over the years it became established that Hiss indeed was a communist spy who, along with Harry Dexter White, helped shaped the formation of the United Nations and US policy toward Russia during those years. If it had not been for the true patriotism of Harry Truman the damage might have been far greater than it was.
One very touching passage in Chamber’s book recounts the incident that led to his own break with communism. One day sitting at breakfast with his baby daughter, he had an experience that changed his life. His daughter was just old enough to sit in a high chair and was beginning to eat oatmeal. As children do, she plunged in with both hands and in a very short time had covered herself with the cereal. Chambers reached over with a towel and began to wipe off the cereal.
He was suddenly struck with the perfection and beauty of her tiny ear, still smeared with oatmeal. “That could not have happened by chance,” he thought. He would later write in Witness that although he did not know it, at that moment he ceased to be an atheist and a communist. It took a great many months to extricate himself from the spy apparatus in which he had known Hiss, but his entire thought process was transformed.
The vain dreams of liars are always exposed eventually. The totalitarian dreams that dominated the 20th century, fascism, Nazism, communism, are all on the dust heap of history, as will someday be the totalitarian dreams of Islamic Jihad.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical event, but it is also a great parable of the triumph of truth. Truth cannot be kept in the grave. The Way, the Truth, and the Life could not finally end in the grave. Error and hate cannot triumph because it is the true, loving, and living God Who created and sustains the world. Sin will run its course and evil men will have their day in the sun so as to fulfill the purposes of God, which are usually hidden to us, but they will be exposed to be liars and their evil will come to nothing.
In the proverb quoted at the first of this article, the eyes of the Lord refer to His foreknowledge and predestination. God knows all about the wicked before they know themselves, and all their ways are predestinated by Him. How can they succeed?