Truth & Post-Truth

cri-blog-hanegraaff-hank-post-truthIt is quite stunning. The editors of the Oxford Dictionaries have selected their word of the year for 2016. It is hard to imagine what it might be. Even harder to imagine that this is the word for the year when you actually hear the word. Their choice could not be more apropos as a sign of the times. It is an authentic reflection of the state of our culture. The word of the year? Well, here it is—post-truth.

Post-truth is an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Think about that for a moment. Objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. The Oxford editors actually explain that:

The concept of post-truth has been in existence for the past decade, but Oxford Dictionaries has seen a spike in frequency this year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom [Brexit] and the presidential election in the United States. It has also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase ‘post-truth politics’.

The OUPblog indicates,

Post-truth has gone from being a peripheral term to being a mainstay in political commentary, now often being used by major publications without the need for clarification or definition in their headlines.

The bottom line here is that post-truth in the year 2016 stands in stark opposition to plain truth in the past. One is based on subjectivism, the other on objective facts.

All of this of course begs a simple question: What is truth? Or maybe more importantly: Why is truth important? To answer that question, it might be significant to go back a time when Jesus Christ stood before Pontius Pilate. “What is truth?” was the very question that Pontius Pilate posed to Jesus Christ (John 18:38). Here the Roman prefect of Judah was standing toe to toe with the personification of truth and yet he missed its reality.

I would say that postmodern people who hold that emotion trumps fact, that feelings trump biology, that there is no such thing as objective truth, very much like Pilate, miss truth’s very essence. They stare at truth but they fail to recognize its identity. What is that identity? Well, truth is an aspect of the very nature of God Himself; therefore, to put on truth is to put on Christ, for Christ is truth (John 14:6; Eph, 4:24; 6:14). Christians are to be the bearers of truth.

I love what Os Guinness said when he articulated that Christianity is not true because it works, that would be not truth but pragmatism. It is not true because it feels right that is subjectivism. It is not true because it is my truth that is relativism. Christianity is true because it is anchored in the person of Jesus Christ the one who spoke and the universe leaped into existence. Truth, therefore, we must say, clearly and correctly is anything that corresponds to reality. As such, truth should never yield to the size and the strength of the latest lobby group. Nor is truth really a matter of preference or opinion; rather, truth is true even when everyone denies it and a lie is a lie even if everyone affirms it including the editors of the Oxford Dictionaries. Truth properly understood is essential for you and I to have a realistic worldview.

It is sad to say that sophistry, sensationalism, Scriptorture, superstition, and post-truth subjectivity has sabotaged truth in our epic of time. Our view of reality is seriously skewed when that happens. The death of truth spells—this is pretty serious—the death of truth spells the death of civilization. As such, the redefinition of truth in post-Christian America is no small thing. I think we ought to stand with Alexander Solzhenitsyn who initiated the Velvet Revolution and he did so because he understood that one word of truth properly defined outweighs the entire world.

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog adapted from the November 21, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

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