The other day I was listening to a podcast that featured a group of Republicans and a group of Democrats discussing the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Actually, it wasn’t much of a discussion.
Expecting to gain some insight into each side’s views, I instead received a lesson on “post-truth politics” – which is defined as “a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.”
In this kind of culture conversations are reduced to…
“You’re an idiot.”
“No, you’re an idiot.”
“Well, you’re a bigger idiot.”
“No, you’re the biggest idiot.”
That’s pretty much what the aforementioned podcast discussion amounted to. Instead of a substantive debate conducted in an effort to understand each other, each group took turns trading stories of misbehavior by each political party, and as long as one group could illustrate that the other group was worse than them, that group felt like they had “won” and had proven their point.
But, you see, that’s all there is in “post-truth politics” and a “post-truth culture.”
When people don’t acknowledge an objective and absolute standard of truth that transcends human beings and exists apart from our opinions, to what can we appeal?
What standard do we look to for right and wrong?
What source is left that people of differing viewpoints will each acknowledge?
How do we get to a level playing field?
How can we settle our disagreements?
When we refuse to accept absolute truth and insist on truth being relative to each individual, all we have left is our emotions. So instead of rationally proving a point, all I can do is make my point by tearing you down. If I can cast you in a more negative light than me, I will be “proven” right.
That’s what’s happening in our politics.
There’s a reason why our politics have gotten so nasty and why divisive talk is now the norm. It’s the natural bi-product of seeing truth as relative.
This also happens in the church.
When we lower our view of Scripture and elevate our preferences and traditions, we start seeing the effects of “post-truth politics” invading our congregations.
And instead of talking to each other, we begin to smear each other.
And instead of assuming the best about each other, we assume the worst.
And instead of treating each other with grace, we treat each other with enmity.
And instead of letting God have His way, we insist that everything be done “my way.”
But even in the body of Christ we shouldn’t be surprised by this, because whenever and wherever God is removed as the arbiter of truth and God’s Word is replaced as the objective standard of truth for all humans, a descent into chaos occurs.
Because without a “higher power” there is nothing to convince me that your opinion is better than mine, that your beliefs are more valid than mine, that your way is better than my way – or that my attitude and behavior need to change.
Look at the news and ask yourself, “Is this really a better way to live? Is believing that truth is relative really more freeing than acknowledging the existence of a truth that is absolute? Have we humans really proven ourselves to be a better standard of behavior than God?”
One of the ways that we Christians can share the light of Christ is by making sure that our communities, our families, and our lives are demonstrating the joy, peace, and order that God provides when people humble themselves and accept Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).