Living, Post-Truth

pilate

 

I haven’t blogged much recently. Partly, that’s due to work and my now four and two year olds; much more, it’s due to expecting number three in a few short months.

I meant to post this piece back when I wrote it in February but, between morning sickness and the day job… well, you get the picture.

For context: I am on a circuit of writers who contribute to the Christian Comment section in our local newspaper. So, every couple of months, I get 300-350 words to give a short Christian comment on whatever I feel called to write. The piece that follows is what I wrote in February:

I have long wondered what epoch I live in; I’d read and learnt about the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Modernism… what name would history give to our slice of time?

My curiosity has been sated: it seems I live in the Post-Truth society. 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’ – ‘post-truth’ was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016.

Our struggle with the nature of objective truth is not one peculiar to our time, our advanced culture, and our frenetic media-saturated lives. ‘Post-truth’ is really just a reframing of Pilate’s equally infamous question: ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38).

The question has refracted throughout the canons of literature, philosophy and film, appearing over and over again – but rarely is it preceded by the statement of Jesus that sparked it: ‘In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act,” wrote George Orwell. No statement more so than Jesus’; in it, he proclaims that there is not only such a thing as objective truth, but that He is its voice. Or, as He puts it elsewhere: ‘[He is] the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]’ (John 14:6).

In the Western world today, there is a kind of comfy discomfort in the term post-truth; we have solidarity in decrying the faithlessness of politics, and then feel justified in our behaviour. There is philosophical high ground in scoffing alongside Pilate – and then washing our hands of it all.

Jesus calls us to a higher standard than this. The truth isn’t just radical – it is transforming, redemptive, and awe-inspiring. Jesus longs for us to discover that, and to discover Him. He calls us to delve into the words of His Father, learn the truth, and carry it as a beacon into our truth-starved world.

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One thought on “Living, Post-Truth

  1. Interesting thoughts. As a Medievalist, I think the Englightenment is over-rated, and I don’t believe in ‘the Renaissance’- in the sense that I think there was more than one. Its interesting to look at the often maligned pre-Enlightenment worldview, when people believed faith and science were entirely compatible, and that rational was an expression of humanity’s innate rationality, given by their creator.
    Science did exist before the Enlightenment (Medieval people invented glasses, the mechanical clock and correctly explained refraction, among other things).

    As to the Reniassance, well the Classical world had many good points, but its not the source of all goodness. There was a French historian who argued that, whilst classical law allowed for torture and slavery, English common law, developed and adapted by people the Romans would have considered Barbarians and their descendants, prohibited torture, and the Normans bought an end to domestic slavery in England. There is something to be said for those often overlooked Medievals.

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