Do we really need truth?

A number of years ago it was all the rage to wear rubber wrist bands with the letters WWJD – “What Would Jesus Do?” As times have changed the battle today really should answer a different question. “What Would Jesus Think?”

The challenge of TruthCurrents is that our goal is to help you learn how to think Biblically about current events - how to frame what is happening in the world around us and think of those things from a Biblical perspective.

A Changed Mind is a Changed Life

I’ve been caught off guard in recent months as TruthCurrents has really expanded far beyond the reach of what I ever dreamed as people share videos and it makes its way to other places. And so, I want to pause this morning from a discussion of current events to go back and remind us why we do what we do. TruthCurrents is not designed to provide a local pastor with 15 minutes of rant time. I’m not here to just talk about my opinions related to current events. Rather, this is a reflection of the reality that Paul tells about in Romans 12, when he writes this,
"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:2)

Paul’s argument is that in order to not be conformed or like the world, what’s necessary is not to change behavior, it’s to change the way think. We’re transformed by the renewing of our mind. And as our mind thinks like Jesus, our behavior begins to look like Jesus.

Smooth Talk

There are verses in the book of Colossians that Paul gives us. I want to read these verses: Colossians 2:4, 8. He says the same thing in a couple of different ways:
4 I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with arguments that sound reasonable.
8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.

The goal of TruthCurrents is not just to talk about current events. It’s to look at the events happening around us and evaluate those events from the perspective of a Biblical worldview. Paul says, “don’t allow yourself to be deceived by arguments that sound reasonable.” “That were deceived” is really the Greek word “kidnapped.” He means “don’t let yourself be carried away” by arguments that are fine sounding but they’re meant to manipulate you. It means pithy talk. It’s a term used rhetorically to describe speeches that were based on logical reasoning and smoke and mirrors rather than on hard evidence; arguments that sound plausible but they’re meant to manipulate.

If there’s a definition of the 21st Century American media, it is an attempt to manipulate the conclusions of voters of citizens because we are presented with persuasive arguments that sound reasonable and push people to the conclusion that’s desired. As Christians we can’t swallow everything that’s presented to us. We need to measure what happens around us, what is communicated to us, the assault of information that comes to us. We need to measure those things from a Biblical perspective.

Paul says there are two origins for this kind of deceptive persuasion. He says in verse 8, “be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition and on the elements of the world.” Human tradition means practices that are not based on divine revelation. In other words, it is those elements of our culture that are explicitly and intentionally not based on the Word of God. Be careful about absorbing the way the world thinks because you don’t capture the thought process in your mind and intentionally try and develop a Biblical approach to the world.

What he calls the basic elements or the basic principles of this world, there he’s talking about the elemental powers or cosmic spirits that have a motivation of deceiving humanity. In other words, we can translate this verse by having Paul say, “the world spreads its lies through the empty traditions of human beings who reject God and the empty superstitions of spirit beings who reject God.”

Smooth Talk Christianity (?)

Now, how does this play out? Well, I read an article recently about a Christian pastor in North Carolina who is involved with transferring a Christian church to the ownership of a Muslim community. And they’re turning this Christian church into a mosque. Now, that’s an issue of real estate. If you have a building to sell and somebody buys it, you really don’t have much say over what the new owners make use of the building. But what disturbs me about his article is that the pastor, an Episcopal pastor, in Smithfield, North Carolina, a town in Johnston County, which is about 45 minutes south of Raleigh. His name was Jim Melnick and he talks about the community that has developed between his church and this Muslim community to the point that he admits that he has regularly joined with the Muslims and worshipped Allah.

Now, here’s what he says, “Proof that Allah is the same as God the Father in Christianity is that Coptic and Palestinian Christians used the Arabic word 'Allah' for God.” Well, that’s not proof. That’s just linguistics. Sure, the Arabic word for God is Allah. It doesn’t matter how that’s used. That in and of itself is certainly not proof that the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are the same thing.

He goes on to say this,
"The Quran teaches that Jesus was not the Son of God and did not die on a cross to save humanity from sin. In fact, the Quran teaches Jesus faked His death on the cross when one of His followers died in His place. Muslims believe that Jesus will in fact return one day but not to bring human history to a close. Rather, His return will be to break down all crosses and symbols of Judaism and Christianity and convert the world’s Jews and Christians to Islam by force if necessary."

And here’s what the pastor had to say about those doctrines of Islam. He said, “I won’t be deterred by any such minor doctrinal differences.” He goes on to say, “Obviously, I’m a Christian.” And I didn’t hear anything he said after that. Because frankly, there’s nothing about his Christianity that is obvious to me at all. He’s not thinking Biblically.

The Rejection of Truth

There’s one way to God. It’s through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is not a minion that will someday further Islam. These are faulty ways of thinking. But they’re presented very piously and reasonably. We don’t want to be judgmental. We don’t want to be judgmental people. And so, we’re told that this is the way that we bring everybody together under one big tent.

Here’s the problem. If we’re going to think like Jesus, we have to start with an absolute unshakable conviction that there is such a thing as truth. Truth is objective. It’s not up for grabs. It’s not based on opinion. It’s not one version of truth for you and another version of truth for me. And here’s why that matters. When absolute truth is rejected in a culture, first of all, that rejection damages the human condition. It puts our experiences in a priority position over revelation as the authority for faith and practice. It takes issues like divorce and sexuality and ethics and it leaves them in the realm of personal preference. It’s exactly what we see in the book of Judges in the Old Testament when we’re told that “in that generation, every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Everybody lived by his own truth. The problem is, society can’t function with a million competing versions of what’s true. There has to be some core consensus of what’s true or we can never figure out what’s right and what’s wrong.

Not only does the rejection of truth threaten or damage the human condition, but the rejection of truth produces Biblical illiteracy. The most widely known Bible verse in the world is, “God helps those who helps themselves.” And yet, even Christians are sometimes surprised to find out that this verse is not in the Bible at all. “God helps those who helps themselves.” Do you know that that originally appeared in Poor Richard’s Almanac published in 1757 by Benjamin Franklin? Without an understanding of the Bible, we have no unshakable foundation upon which we can attach truth. So, there’s no authority. There’s no understanding of spiritual things. And grace is not only optional, it’s unnecessary.

The rejection of truth leads to ethical confusion: abortion, unrestrained sexuality, gender confusion. If you need convincing that we’re in a post-truth culture, all you have to understand is that you don’t have to spend more two minutes on Twitter to find somebody who will state with a straight face that men can have babies, because we’ve decided that gender is fluid, that what we identify with in our minds creates a physical reality around that, and so now we can’t even tell the difference between men and women. There’s an ethical confusion because we have no unmovable standard by which we can evaluate things.

Political correctness offers a constantly changing reference point for morality. Even among progressives, I find them attacking each other because somebody that was perfectly progressive and acceptable on Tuesday says the wrong thing and they become the target of cancel culture on Wednesday. It’s exhausting to try and keep up with truth as a moving target. Truth is a standard. It’ an unmovable reference point.

When we reject truth, it creates false gods. When the God of the Bible is rejected people choose a new god. And in our culture, we have two new gods. One is Tolerance. But that word doesn’t mean what you think it means. Tolerance generally means “I don’t agree with you, but I don’t mind you holding that position.” But that’s not the new god of tolerance in our culture. Tolerance has now been redefined to mean, “you not only accept what I believe, but you approve of it.” In fact, you must accept and approve everything in the culture except truth claims. How do you enforce that kind of tolerance? Well, the only way to get people to agree with things that they don’t agree with is to have power.

The second god is the god that we call Equity, not equality, equity. Equity says that “equal outcomes are necessary regardless of the personal choices that created our circumstances.” In other words, you’re not responsible if you make a lifetime of bad decisions. Society should adjust so that you still get the same cheap party prize at the end of the game that everybody else gets.
This is where our culture is today. We must contend for truth in a culture of lies. Because when truth is up for grabs, power is the only thing that determines where a culture goes.

Thinking Biblically

If we don’t think Biblically like Jesus, the battle for the culture will be gone. Why does truth matter so much? Why does TruthCurrents offer you a chance to think Biblically about the events around us? Because the Church can’t be the Church without being on the side of truth. Jesus is the champion of truth. And without truth Christianity just becomes therapy and Jesus followers just become patients.

Our task is to understand Christianity as a complete view of the world and of our place in that world. If our faith is not truth, it’s nothing but mere sentimentality. And if we do not preserve and present truth, there is nothing between us and the collapse of the world that we’ve known.

What would Jesus Think? That’s the question with any news story you read, any media account you hear. Think, “What does the Bible tell me about this subject?”

You have to get your information from sources. I would say that the New York Post is better than the New York Times, the Washington Times is better than the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal is better than PBS, World magazine is hands down better than Time or Newsweek.
You can do this game all day long. Try and evaluate them, but here’s the bottom line: every news source must be evaluated Biblically. Never swallow any media report without comparison and verification. Why? Because there are those who would sway you with words that sound reasonable. Paul says, “don’t be trapped by that.” Let the Word of God renew your mind because that’s how you avoid being conformed to the culture.

This is TruthCurrents.
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