In the span of only a few months, “fake news” and “alternative facts” have been thrust into the cultural vocabulary, soiling the recent political season and exacerbating a cultural assault on truth. Websites, on both the left and the right, claiming to be genuinely journalistic, used social media to camouflage and distribute artificial information, presumably to influence the election.
But the problem goes much deeper than politics. The public is widely influenced by lies, distortion and deception in many areas, including spiritual matters. This assault on truth defies God’s prescribed order. It also defies the foundation upon which this nation was built. The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence begins: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
Two of those self-evident truths are listed on that July 4, 1776, document as the “unalienable rights” to life and liberty. Unalienableis defined as something that cannot be taken away or denied. Yet, since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, it is estimated that more than 58 million unborn babies have been robbed of the right to live—based on the lie that women’s rights outweigh the rights of unborn babies.
And religious liberty is under unprecedented assault. Business owners such as bakers and photographers have faced steep fines for merely trying to function according to their sincerely held beliefs as Christians.
The philosophy of relativism—the premise that all viewpoints can be equally valid—has become rampant in American society, particularly on issues of marriage, sexuality, gender and the existence of God.
Yes, the relativist says, you believe there is a God who has spoken on this subject. I don’t. What’s true for you is not necessarily true for me.
It’s as if the mentality of Pontius Pilate has swept over society. Standing face to face with the Truth Himself, Pilate dared ask: “What is truth?” (John 18:38).
“We have a whole culture that’s still asking ‘What is truth?’” said pastor and Wheaton College professor Ed Stetzer. “The culture is increasingly less open to the idea that truth is personified in a Person—Jesus—and is made clear in His Word, the Scriptures.”
The lack of agreement on a true moral compass has the nation on the verge of eruption as it nears a boiling point of division—racially, morally, politically and spiritually.
“The elephant in the room is God,” said Tommy Nelson, pastor of Denton (Texas) Bible Church. “Not everybody talks about it like that, but that’s what it’s about—the debate over abortion, same-sex marriage and gender neutrality. We have a holy war.
“The Christian worldview is that God has spoken and that there is final truth. Modernism said truth can be found by man on his own. Now, in postmodernism, the perception is that man can determine truth for his own existence.”
The root of this problem, of course, goes back to the Garden of Eden, where Satan—the father of lies—appeared in the form of a serpent, deceived Adam and Eve, and led them to eat of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Nelson says the fallout is that the world is arrogantly operating as if it can define what is good and evil. But he expects a holy resistance as Christians across the country petition God for spiritual renewal.
“We’re about to have a theological and moral civil war, and we’ll just see who wins, and whether or not this country slides into oblivion,” Nelson said.
Though the secular media is often cited by the church as a primary channel through which the liberal message is disseminated, some voices in the mainstream press acknowledge that the widening debate about truth is a slippery slope that could lead to America’s demise.
None of us can go into this world of alternative facts,” former CBS News anchor Dan Rather told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. “Listen, two plus two equals four, that’s a fact, there’s no alternative to it. Water runs downhill. That’s a fact. It snows in Alaska. There’s sand dunes in Saudi Arabia. These are facts.
“Facts and the truth, or as close as it is humanly possible … are at the very foundation of our democracy and dealing with an informed citizenry.”
Look no further than the church—and its lack of discipleship and commitment to the authority of Scripture—as the reason we’re in this mess.
“We live in a very literate time in North America,” said Jeremiah Johnston, president of the Christian Thinkers Society and a professor at Houston Baptist University. “We may have the intellectually smartest Christians of all time. Yet they’re the most Biblically illiterate. We have lost our spiritual bearings in many churches where preaching of the Bible has been replaced by self-help talks.”
This at a time when we have more access than at any other time in history to evidence proving the truth of the Bible.
“In just a few clicks of a button, you can get your hands on tangible evidence John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon knew nothing about,” Johnston said. “Discoveries like the Dead Sea Scrolls.”
If multitudes of Christians don’t stand upon the Word of God, is it any surprise that even open-minded non-believers could be swayed by the fervent agenda of anti-Christian activists looking to trample Biblical truths?
“Ultimately, our culture is choosing that ‘no, the Word of God is not our authority,’” Stetzer said. “But ever since the Garden, the trajectory of the human heart has been inclined to turn away from acknowledging God’s truth and toward making our own truth.”
Indeed, Romans 1:25 speaks of “exchanging the truth of God for a lie,” and that’s precisely what’s going on all around us—a diabolical exchange that strikes at the heart of the Gospel.
“We can’t improve upon the Scriptures,” Johnston said. “We’re exchanging God’s truth for old wives’ tales and philosophies that add up to nothing.”
It’s critical that the church responds by spreading the Gospel message to a dying, hurting world that doesn’t realize it’s on a treacherous path with never-ending consequences.
“The culture is deceptive, but this is the culture that God has called us to reach,” Johnston said. “So let’s start the conversations, let’s know what we’re talking about and let’s really do it in a spirit of love and prayer. Then let’s watch how God uses us to make a difference.”