Christianity 201

December 5, 2016

The Age of Post-Truth

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
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“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” – John 18:37

If you follow media of any type, you’ve probably bumped up against the phrase “post-truth” in the last few weeks. Wikipedia defines it as, “a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.” The Oxford dictionary online is much the same denoting “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”  

The same dictionary publisher group named it the “word of the year.”  [source]

post-truth-banner

You see where we’re heading today. As Christians, we believe in objective truth, not subjective post-truth. We appeal to the scripture as our rock, our anchor, our source for knowledge. But it’s easy to fall into subjectivism.  We go back to Wikipedia for a definition of that term; “the philosophical tenet that ‘our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience’. In other words, subjectivism is the doctrine that knowledge is merely subjective and that there is no external or objective truth.” [italics in last clause added]

How do we become subjective:

  • When we say the situation ethics of a given set of circumstances means violating a scriptural moral principle (see note below)
  • When we try to accommodate evolution into the first few chapters of Genesis (see note below)
  • When we make allowances for homosexuality which contract what the church has historically taught on the subject (see note below)
  • When we ignore teaching on the judgement of God and say that a loving God would never send anyone to hell. (see note below)

Okay…I guess I need to stop typing “see note below” and just say it: While the statements above would seem to imply that I am coming from a very conservative, dogmatic perspective I am no longer settled on some of these issues. Perhaps I am guilty of the same post-truth mindset. What I would want to say clearly here is that I hope that whatever Biblical worldview I have is formed from debates, forums and careful study of what the Bible actually does or does not say, and not from my subjective view, or personal perspective on how I wish things were.

Basically, I can’t allow my own feelings on an issue to override God’s objective truth on any given matter the same way the Roman Catholic church allows The Catechism of the Catholic Church to override scripture.

God does have an opinion on these matters and though “we see in part” and “we see through a glass darkly” it’s our job to try to discern what it is; especially in the cases where it impacts our personal code of behavior.

So here are the verses from TopVerses.com which got me started on this topic earlier today.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness. – Romans 1:18

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. – Romans 1:25

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. – John 16:13

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. – John 1:8

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me.” – John 15:26

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. – John 4:23

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. – John 14: 16,17

It gave me great joy to have some believers come and testify to your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:3,4

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. – John 1:17

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. – 2 John 1:4

Who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. – 2 Timothy 1:4

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 1 John 1:6


Postscript: This isn’t all the verses on the page which contain the word truth in the NIV. You can read the entire list at this link. However, it’s interesting to note the number of occurrences of this word in the writings of John. Many of the above texts are from his gospel and the word occurs in each of the three epistles we have in our Bibles.

Traditionally, John’s is the gospel given out for evangelism purposes. It is consider an apologetic argument for the divinity of Christ. In a post-modern — and now we can add post-truth — world, there is no objective truth. I have written elsewhere that if you want to reach post-moderns with the person of Jesus Christ, perhaps the synoptic gospels are a better way to go. Now I’m rethinking that. Perhaps we need to continue, as the Apostle John does, to wave the banner for truth.


I can never write on a topic like this without thinking of the song One Rule for You. I looked at that song 4½ years ago and typed out the full lyrics at this article at Thinking Out Loud.

December 1, 2014

Dealing with People Compassionately Without Compromising Convictions

 

“…For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.” (Luke 19:10 MSG)

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Col. 4:5,6 NIV)

Wounds inflicted by the correction of a friend prove he is faithful… (Prov. 27:6a, The Voice)

The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you… (Prov 27:6a NCV)

Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly].(Eph. 4:15 Amplified Bible)

I recently finished reading the book, Compassion Without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth. This book deals with what is now a really tough issue facing the church at large, and takes several different approaches to this topic while at the same time revealing the vast number of situational challenges that we are either going to face, or have already faced.

I looked for a section of the book that had more general application to us devotionally and came up with this short excerpt:

 

Compassion Without Compromise…As you seek to exercise compassion without compromise, we encourage you to keep two key principles in mind:  mission and true love.

Mission – Jesus came to seek and save lost people, and he has sent us out with that same mission.  We can never forget this.  He did not call us to a “bumper sticker” mission where we are content to advertise our convictions without ever entering into the sometimes messy world of relationships.  When we are facing a tough choice, one essential question should be, “Will this help or hurt my  call to witness to this person’s life?”

True Love – The “true love” concept is at the heart of living out a life of compassion without compromise.  In our day, people often act as if love and truth are at odds.  Sometimes, people do live that way.

Let’s face it.  There are “truth” people, who dispense facts without any hint of love.  Truth people are like guys who use a sledgehammer for every conceivable household task that includes hammering something.  They might be trying to drive a stake into the ground to stabilize a sapling (good application), or a small nail into the wall to hang a picture (bad application).  In the extreme, truth people do things like question the eternal salvation of a friend’s grandmother while visiting the friend in the funeral home.  Or respond to a gay co-worker’s wedding invitation by saying, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”  Truth people need to grow in true love.

Then there are “love” people, who refuse ever to speak a hard truth if they feel it might hurt someone’s feelings.  They are like an overindulgent, willfully blind parent who refuses to believe that “my little Johnny” would ever hurt another person, despite a track record of terrorizing his classmates, or like a doctor who would refuse to give someone a hard diagnosis if the treatment might inconvenience the patient.

A “true love” person understands that trying to sustain love without truth is like trying to breathe underwater.  We are not showing anyone love when we encourage them to live out of touch with reality.  At the same time, acknowledging the truth that it is potentially dangerous to dive below the surface does not prevent us from jumping in to save someone we love!  Love drives us forward.  Truth helps us chart a safe course toward the destination.

Ultimately, we believe it is important to understand ourselves, our strengths, and our weaknesses.  Where are we tempted to compromise?  Is it easier for us to shortchange love or to soft-pedal truth?  A wise witness will understand these contours of their personality.  They will want to stay balanced as they move forward in mission.

pp. 126-127