For “if the truth of God abounded more to His glory in my falsehood, why am I still also judged as a sinner?” (Romans 3:7, mjlt)
Redefining what is true based upon one’s own self-centered perspective is nothing new. People have been trying to get away with this—rejecting objective facts and reality—forever. What Paul’s Roman audience hadn’t quite figured out yet (but were well on their way to discovering), was that there is no defense for changing the truth into a falsehood, nor a legitimate justification for it before God. No, in order to successfully twist the truth and feel blissfully uncondemned about doing it, we have to ignore God altogether.
And so here we find ourselves today—evading God’s righteous judgement, reinventing truth as we deem fit—and it is all being done under its audacious, new name: post-truth.
Winning the distinction of Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year, post-truth is “an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.” In other words, something post-true is simply believed to be true, whether it’s really true or not. If you feel something is true, it’s true. If you want something to be true, it’s true. If you say something is true (and repeat it enough times), it’s true. Well, actually, it’s post-true—opinions are cast as facts, emotions aim our moral compasses, and any thoughts, words or deeds that conflict with our own faulty ones are not only wrong, but evil.
Now, while Oxford selected post-truth because of its recently increasing usage in the realms of politics and the shaping of public opinion, the fact of the matter is that post-truth is an ancient reality, its adverse effects upon all people being preserved for us in the pages of Scripture:
Because despite having known God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor gave Him thanks, but were instead made empty in their reasonings, and their uncomprehending heart was darkened. Claiming to be wise, they were made fools… Therefore, God also gave them up, in the lusts of their hearts, to uncleanness—to degrade their bodies among themselves: those who changed the truth of God into a falsehood… (Romans 1:21-25, mjlt)
So the devastating path of post-truth destroys more than just our lives—it wreaks destruction upon the word and truth of God. It irrationally alters our interpretation of Scripture, and therefore perverts our application of it. The fact is, we permit Scripture to be rendered defective, considered irrelevant, and judged to be in error every time we allow our emotions, reasonings and personal experience to tell us that God approves of that which Scripture forbids.
This is why, for example, UMC minister Laura Young can bless abortion clinics and say that “God… is there to support women through it all.” Or why Billy Graham’s mega-church pastor grandson Tullian Tchividjian had multiple affairs, divorced his wife, and is now remarried, expecting to go back into the ministry. Or why New York Times bestselling author and Christian “mommy-blogger” Glennon Doyle Melton recently divorced her husband (with whom she has children) only to quickly announce a relationship with “her new love,” soccer star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Abby Wambach.
When we try to find a more loving, or tolerant, or palatable explanation for difficult biblical passages that plainly contradict our own point of view; or when we weigh the Scriptures “on the one hand,” and our feelings, experience, or personal sense of right and wrong “on the other,” our hearts are darkened to the truth. Though most of us may not garner national attention with news of our sin, we are all susceptible to the rationalization of post-truth thinking in our daily lives.
If our only view of Scripture is post-true, then we really have no truth at all; we change the truth of God into a lie…
At least, that’s the way I feel about it.
I did not write to you because you have not known the truth, but because you have known it, and because no lie is of the truth. (1 Yochanan 2:21, mjlt)
What do you think? Share your thoughts below.