There are only those who ignore the truth and those who seek to bring themselves in line with it. And so, more than ever, we must pray for the grace to bear witness to the truth of Christ with the love of Christ, with faithful hope in an outcome secured by the Savior whose heel crushed the father of lies.
In 2016, the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year was “post-truth,” because that’s when the word began showing up in multiple articles about political movements in the United States and Europe. The official definition reads: relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
In a post-truth world, feelings trump facts, and personal subjectivity matters more than objective reality. Six years later, we’re swimming in post-truth cultural waters and trying, with increasing difficulty, to hold society together when even basic agreements over the nature of truth and reality become contested.
The paradox of fallen humanity is that we both love and hate the truth. We long for the truth, as beggars hungry for something of substance, even while we despise the truth, as mini-tyrants who chafe at any notion there might be someone or something that exerts authority over us. Our longing for truth leads to the easy embrace of lies.
Why do we resist the truth? Because deep in our souls is the desire to be the masters of our own destiny, and truth too often gets in the way. Truth stands outside and above us. Truth doesn’t bow the knee to our preferences, no matter what Orwellian language we adopt, euphemisms we deploy, or pronouns we insist upon.
As John Webster wrote:
“The truth about the world is something over against us, something that we cannot subdue. Truth cannot be commanded; instead, it commands us. It forces us to acknowledge that the world and we within the world are what they are, independent of us. Truth blocks invention; when we reach the truth, we reach the limits of our wills. And it’s because truth is that kind of barrier against us that we have to find ways of circumventing it. We have to flee from the truth.”
In today’s world, we see two common strategies for fleeing from the truth.
Strategy #1: Relativize the Truth
One way we circumvent the truth is by relativizing it based on our experiences. That’s why we hear a lot these days about “speaking your truth” or “living your truth,” as if the word “truth” is now just a synonym for “perspective” or “experience.”
Yes, we should make room for sharing our perspectives and recounting our experiences. But if our tendency is to adorn “truth” with adjectives like my and your, and never the, we’re violating the very definition of “truth” to begin with. “Truth” is what’s right regardless of time, situation, or circumstance. It’s as valid for the young as it is for the old, for today as it is for yesterday.
Furthermore, when we think about truth in exclusively personal terms, we miss the adventure of seeking and finding something beyond the depths of our heart.