“Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. ” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?””

(John 18:37–38 ESV)

Since the presidential campaign of 2016, “Fake News” has invaded politics, entertainment, religion and virtually all areas of the media.  How did this phenomenon grow so rapidly? We live in a day where anyone with an Internet connection and a social media account can become the source of “news” or spread a false story simply by sharing or retweeting it.  We also live in a day and a culture where truth no longer matters.

Since the 1970’s a postmodern worldview has dominated western culture.  While postmodernism is difficult to pin down, one of its core tenants is the rejection of the notion of objective truth.  In the postmodern worldview, everything is contingent; nothing is fixed, reality and truth are ultimately unknowable. Postmodernists do not attempt to refine their thoughts about what is right or wrong, true or false, good or evil. They believe that there isn’t such a thing as absolute truth. Therefore, no one has the authority to define truth or impose upon others his idea of moral right and wrong.  

The postmodern worldview has given way to a post-truth culture.  In November 2016 Oxford Dictionaries selected “post-truth” as its Word of the Year.  The Oxford Dictionaries annually select a word that captures the culture’s current mood and preoccupations, and post-truth does that.  They define post-truth 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 the post-truth culture, objective facts become less and less influential on people’s decisions and behaviors.  Subjective opinions are becoming more and more important. When there is conflict and disagreement in opinions, truth is no longer the arbiter; the arbiter is now power.  

How do we as followers of Christ navigate this changing culture?  The same way Christians always have stood in the changing tides of time – truth that is firmly grounded in the Word of God.  And, as Christians in every generation, we are stilled called to share our faith in this cultural moment.

We read in John 8:31-32, So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  

The Life Application Study Bible states: “Jesus himself is the truth that sets us free (8:36). He is the source of truth, the perfect standard of what is right. He frees us from continued slavery to sin, from self-deception, and from deception by Satan. He shows us clearly the way to eternal life with God. Thus, Jesus does not give us freedom to do what we want, but freedom to follow God. As we seek to serve God, Jesus’ perfect truth frees us to be all that God meant us to be.”

Truth, as it always has been, is rooted and grounded in the Word of God and in the person of Jesus Christ.  God’s truth is the power to set us free and to give life.

The culture we find ourselves in today is no surprise to God and is clearly spoken of in His word.  In Isaiah 5:20-21 the prophet writes “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”

Paul addresses the same issue in his final letter 2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

As followers of Christ, we can trust our anchor in God’s truth to hold as the winds and tides of culture beat against us.  Anything else is shifting sand in which there is nothing firm. We must fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Author: Jay Scott, elder