Every year, the Oxford Dictionary chooses a word or phrase they believe captures the “ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year.” Well, the 2016 word is out, and they chose the word “post-truth.” Wow, what a powerful indictment against our culture! But I believe they may be on target with this one.
As an example of this, have you noticed, lately, the emergence of a concern about “fake news?” The idea of fake news first came to my attention when the Hillary Clinton campaign blamed it for her loss in the presidential election. As I was trying to keep up with what was going on during the campaign season, I did notice a lot of bogus articles (about both candidates), but didn’t really think much of it except to make a mental note to check out anything I read. After all, fake news is not really that new a phenomenon – it just has a new name. But when I began to read up on this topic, I discovered that it is now being taken to a whole new level: There are actually people who intentionally make up fake news. Some do it in order to make money from advertising when people click on their fake websites, while others do it because they really want to promote their own candidate, or harm their opponent.
But in order to really understand what is going on with this, we need to dig a little deeper. The idea of “post-truth,” while including fake news, actually has a broader expression. The way the Oxford Dictionary defines “post-truth” is, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” So, in this definition, the “post-” prefix doesn’t mean “after.” Rather, it designates an environment in which “the specified concept has become unimportant or irrelevant.” What that means in this case, is that the very idea of truth, in our day and age, is unimportant or irrelevant.
I don’t know about you, but that screams to me that we live in a society dominated by naturalistic worldview beliefs; where all beliefs are considered relative, and even the idea of objective truth is scoffed at. As Christians who believe objective truth does exist, and must navigate this world, what are we to do?
In my mind, there is only one antidote to a lie, and that is the truth. That has, of course, always been the case, but the implications of truth telling in modern society have repercussions that it did not have in times past. In the past, the truth, in society at large, was at least valued. Now, the truth is often considered a problem to be suppressed.
In interacting with some people on social media, I find this to be very true. Many of those who live by a naturalistic worldview are not content to simply express their opinion, they actually try to personally put down or destroy those who oppose them.
As a Christian, I find this to be a rather uncomfortable position. In many cases, I find that there are only two choices – either shut up or fire back. This does mean that the “firing back” has to be personal or ugly, but it must be direct – calling a spade a spade.
At this point, I want to encourage all my Christian friends to stand strong. Let me also arm you with the knowledge that to do so will require three things. First, it will require that you have thick skin. If you are really determined to stand for truth, you will be attacked. Second, it will require that you arm yourself with knowledge of the truth. This will certainly include the truth of your faith, but also the truth about worldview and current events. Finally, it will require a humble attitude. This does not mean sitting back and letting yourself be run over: Meekness is not the same as weakness. It is not only okay, but actually proper to stand up for the truth; but we must always do it with a Christlike attitude.
Many people in society may consider that we live in a “post-truth” world. But be sure that you recognize that it is not the “world” that is post-truth – it is people who believe it is okay to lie. It is not okay, and we should boldly express our faith as we confront this satanic interloper in modern society.