Time magazine is known for their provocative questions.
In a time where theologians were (more-or-less) working within a newish field of study called “religious studies,” Time published a cover story asking “Is God Dead?” The article engaged growing phenomenon that often left God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit out of public conversations. Even though it didn’t quite pan out, the Time covered seemed then to signal the dawn of a truly secular age.
It is no surprise then that in a time where “alternative facts” are being spouted as truth and during a period in which “relativism” became a hot topic, that Time would again create a provocative, yet timely new cover story for our cultural moment dubbed, “Is Truth Dead?”
The story behind TIME's 'Is Truth Dead?' cover https://t.co/xyJOd4qxx1
— TIME (@TIME) March 23, 2017
It seems, especially within the political world in which we find ourselves, truth is at a premium. Politically speaking (because Time’s article is focused on the truth claims coming from the Oval Office), society is bombarded with “truthes” from both left and right.
But I think the deeper question behind Time’s question—“Is Truth Dead?”—is bigger than politics. And it isn’t about whether truth can be dead or not. The question reveals how much we as people actually care to know the truth.
To get to that question, however, we have to make a quick detour into what we Christians actually define as true.
Truth cannot be anymore dead than God is dead, because all truth is God’s truth.
Truth is only truth because it is founded in God. Not to oversimplify the message of Jesus, but in John 8, Jesus makes the huge claim that, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The truth sets humanity free truly to be ourselves (as we were created to be before sin permeated humanity). Rather than be a slave to sin, truth (through the salvation of Jesus) frees us better to be who we are meant to be.
Yet something seems to have has taken the preeminent place of truth. Could it be we’re more taken with a desire to be right—to arbitrate truth—than truth itself?
Ed Stetzer, a professor at Wheaton College, wrote an article recently called, “Facts Are Our Friends: Why Sharing Fake News Makes Us Look Stupid and Harms Our Witness.” Stetzer claims that, essentially, when Christians accept fake news, false facts or worse “alternative facts,” we drive a wedge between us and the people we are supposed to reach. Worse still, when we use our own “facts” based on our desires to do something—even if it is good—we are falling short of who God calls us to be (we’re simply lying).
For Christians, this is not OK. As Stetzer wrote, “Integrity matters.”
The truth should challenge us, should call us to know God more, should force us as Christian to reorient our world to know God more and know what God desires for the world.
Truth sets us free, even if truth doesn’t support the issue, cause or presidential candidate we support.
Truth is dead only in so far as we have stopped desiring actually to know the truth.
God, and therefore truth, will never go away, and never die. But God or even the truth can be “killed” when we stop desiring actually to know God and know the truth, because we would rather accept the “facts” that support our claims, our desires or wants—even if we wrap up those desires in a spiritual guise.