The publishers of the Oxford Dictionary have selected 2016’s Word of the Year: “post-truth,” 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.” It is further explained that “rather than simply referring to the time after a specified situation or event – as in ‘post-war’ or ‘post-match’ – the prefix in ‘post-truth’ has a meaning more like ‘belonging to a time in which the specified concept has become unimportant or irrelevant.’”
About ten years ago, popular late-show host and comedian Stephen Colbert popularized a word with a similar meaning: “truthiness,” which is defined by Oxford as referring to “the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.” Oxford explains that “’post-truth’ extends that notion from an isolated quality of particular assertions to a general characteristic of our age.”
Oxford could not have chosen a more fitting word to describe today’s world.
Apparently, our society has advanced far beyond the archaic concept of objective reality. Facts have thankfully become quite irrelevant in any discussion, but particularly in those involving politics and religion. After all, why should we restrict ourselves to such arrogant things such as logical conclusions based on clear evidence and common sense?
The idea of any real truth existing is so outdated that it demands being replaced with something far more reliable like our emotions and personal opinions. So, for instance, if someone asserts that 2+2=22, who is there to prove him false? Or, if a 43 year-old white male decides he feels more like a 12 year-old Chinese girl, what self-righteous bigot will tell him he cannot use the women’s restroom? Yes, indeed, our “post-truth” world is so much better than 100 years ago when people actually stood for something.
In all seriousness, there must be absolute truth. To deny it is to prove it true. Should someone ever tell you, “There is no absolute truth; all that matters is how a person feels,” you simply need to ask them, “Is that an absolute statement? What if I feel differently?” and any clear-thinking person will see the self-defeating nature of such a claim. Yet political correctness and relativism has blinded the majority of people into swallowing this idea. To be fair, the idea of “post-truth” is appealing; the only problem with it is that it is logically false and can only lead a society to destruction.
How do Christians live in and interact with a “post-truth” world? First, we must unashamedly identify ourselves with the truth of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:24 teaches that the new person we have become through Jesus’ sacrifice was created “in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Since “truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21), we are to make it a part of who we are so that we walk in it. Truth is not just something we know; it is something we practice (1 John 1:6).
Secondly, we must be on guard against being influenced by “post-truth” thinking ourselves. Some Christians have replaced an honest study of the Bible with “I feel” thinking. “This is the way I feel and all the Bible verses you show me to the contrary cannot convince me otherwise” is a common sentiment heard in religious discussions. Yes, our feelings are real; but there is a mile-wide difference between acknowledging our feelings and making them the standard of all truth. The whole purpose of studying the Bible is to keep our feelings in check with the truth, not the other way around. Why not just say we don’t believe in the Bible at all?
Thirdly, we need to offer the world a better alternative, the gospel of Jesus Christ. People are hungering for something more stable and meaningful than “post-truth.” Relativism leaves people conflicted, confused, and unhappily wrapped up in themselves. Let us recognize the abundant opportunity to shine the light of God’s truth in this dark world. By our consistently righteous lives and our genuine concern for others’ souls let us demonstrate that the way of truth is far better than the way of “post-truth.”