You may have heard of the term post-modern, relating to the era that some would say we are in that is after the modern era. Depending on who you ask, the modern era with its values, ideas, practices, and general way of doing things started somewhere between the 1600’s or as late as the twentieth century. The starting date is not important for this discussion per say but just to know that it has existed in our history. When it comes to postmodern, it is even more elusive. Some would debate if there has been a significant change in eras from a modern to a postmodern. Yes there have been changes in thought and how we identify our selves but I cannot significantly define if this is big enough change for people or not. What I can say that in this change of thinking which could be placed in the postmodern era, is that there has been a push away from what we call absolute truth.
The idea of absolute truth, an idea/fact that is true no matter what or in what ever context. In passing you may have heard the question, “what is truth?”. Have you taken time to really think about this question? At times I have heard the question, start thinking about it and then get distracted. Other times I have taken a great deal of time to think about how truth affects my life. By the way I do believe in an absolute truth, and I believe that Jesus fits into the role of absolute truth. So in my life, as a pastor, but also as a husband, father, and friend, truth is at the heart of my life. Truth is important to me and I try to live out this truth. So it is troubling when I have heard the term multiple times this past weekend, the term post-truth.
It hit me after reading some Facebook posts about theology which then started me thinking back about different news articles and a radio program I was listening to that talked about false news, especially in regards to the United States presidential election. In the news field, it is easier today to get and transmit “news” through social media by way of what is called citizen news writing. The ethics of news industry, which I have been unsure of in the last number of years in some cases do not need to be followed. I have heard arguments that now we are free from the over arching influences of the media providers when we have regular people sharing the news instead of people with an alterior motive in presenting the news the way that they do. Yes we all have biases no matter how hard we try to be unbiased, some of our biases come through in how we receive information and relay it to others.
If you have had a longer conversation with me you may have heard that I think we are on the verge of a new dark age because we are becoming more and more reliant on retrieving information without knowing if it is true or not. We are learning less but have more information at our finger tips, but we are becoming less and less sure if the information that we have is true, fact, opinion, or total fiction. Even the idea of claiming truth is becoming passé and yet there is a subtle move to impose other’s truth on to me even when it is debatable whether their is any backing to that truth. Truth is being defined by the loud majority and when this is challenged they are defined as a new heretic, oppressive, bigoted, etc. I will admit that this argument can be used against the Christian church for upwards of 1500 years. It has caused harm to people and cultures but as people are reacting to this harm that has been caused we need to be careful that the reaction that goes against these historical facts don’t become the modern oppressors.
The struggle that we need to really engage in is not whether or not there is truth, but how do we work together with those around us to live in truth and not be beaten down by truth or beat someone else down with truth. Truth exists. As a Christian I am continually learning how to love others while living with the truth that Jesus is and has given to us. If we try to say there is no truth, we create a paradox, but more importantly we harm ourselves but belittling our own existence by saying that we are each the highest level defining, essentially that we are our own gods. In doing this our hope is reliant on our own abilities, strength, hope, relationships, etc. What happens when we fail ourselves? What happens when we look so far into ourselves that we lose the important relationships that bring life and meaning?
Post-truth is not a good thing, it is a very dark place that we could drown in. However, the truth of Jesus’ life, reaching out and helping the hurting, lonely, sick, even those who are dead we see that there is hope instead of nothingness. In Jesus’ death we see that God is willing to go to this great length to reestablish a relationship with us. The resurrection of Jesus shows us that the hope that the disciples had in Jesus was not unfounded and neither should our hope in Jesus. Jesus overcame even death, imagine what He can do in your life. You don’t need to be alone. Jesus is waiting to hear from you. He has already sent you the message. What will you do with His truth.