In my other day job, away from Our God Given Mission, I run a thriving and growing news network called Common Sense. In board meetings, we often beat out chest about not being beholden to one perspective but taking a holistic and panoramic view to current affairs. My role sees me hosting debates, conversations and panels with equally passionate actors from different political isles. In journalism, you’re rewarded for considering a range of political opinions. I routinely have to swim through emotions and rhetorical arguments just to get to the facts. It’s a worthy cause, often tiring, but worthy. Because of the sheer volume of takes and thought pieces online, the truth has become harder than ever to see. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing.
Oxford English Dictionaries designated “post-truth” as its 2016 Word of the Year. It’s actually not a new word, having been coined likely in 1992. But in 2016, it was used 2,000% more than in the previous years. According to Oxford Dictionaries, post-truth relates or denotes circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs. In other words, feelings and preferences matter more than facts and truth.
One key moment where this term reared its head was when President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, raised eyebrows by claiming that “truth isn’t truth” during a television interview. He was arguing that Mr Trump should not testify to the Russia probe, as he might be “trapped into perjury” at the time. He seemed to be saying there was no objective truth but that people could all have their own version. On another occasion when confronted with falling crime numbers, he replied that “people feel like it’s rising and that’s what matters.” These interactions encapsulate the sentiments of the term.
‘Post-truth’ is different to postmodernism. Where a postmodern person might say, “There is no objective truth,” a post-truth person might think “there is objective truth, but I don’t care because my personal feelings and preferences matter more.” Anyone who brings facts that challenge those feelings or preferences is labelled as a “hater” or something similarly derogatory.
One mode of post-truth is the “hard mode.” By this I mean there are those whose personal preference to have their social or political agenda is so strong, they’re willing to twist the truth or even spread falsehood to get progress for their agenda. This is much of what we see on social media today. The democratizing effect of social media means anyone can send their thoughts and contribute to debate with just a few taps on a phone. Exposure to such a large range of thoughts and noise contributes to the sense of malaise and apathy that grips this generation
Is It Worth it?
When Jesus said that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” he was perhaps saying one of the most profound things ever uttered in history. That’s not an exaggeration. In fact, there’s so much in just that phrase that one could write an entire book based on it (pun intended)!
Jesus linked truth with freedom. When we know the truth, we’re truly free. This is why the enemy makes it so difficult to find. That’s the first coupling Jesus makes. But just a few verses later, he makes another astonishing coupling. He says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Jesus said in verse 32 that the truth would set us free and in verse 36 he says that the Son sets us free. Coupling them together we see that the Son is the truth.
In the person and work of Christ, we see the truth that we’re made in God’s image meant to commune with God, that we’ve forsaken that purpose, but that in the Son, God has provided a way to restore our purpose. That truth sets us free to be who and what we were meant to be. This truth is worth pursuing and knowing, no matter the costs.
So is the pursuit of truth worth reading that extra article or investigating the biblical consistency of claims online, yes. Jesus clearly thinks it is. Social media may leave you pressed but don’t be crushed (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). There is still value is seeking the truth. There is still value is pursuing clarity in Jesus