Even in a place and time where “post-truth” nabs Word of the Year, people still insist on making truth claims. We’re wired to know.
So one of the biggest challenges we face as truth-believing Christians isn’t actually convincing people that truth exists. It is to remember, ourselves, that we are not the ones who decide what is true: God does. If we believe this, then we understand the vast difference between what has been revealed by God to be eternally, absolutely true, and what we find experientially, subjectively, probably true. To be real truth-tellers, we have to avoid indifference to divine revelation on the one hand and dogmatism regarding human wisdom on the other.
We know where indifference to God’s revealed Word leads – quaint old church buildings now operate as cafés and community centres in most neighbourhoods. As for misplaced dogmatism, if you aren’t sure what that looks like, may I introduce you to Facebook. Public scuffles about issues that are far from central to our faith plague newsfeeds and blog posts. Necessary talk about controversial topics often degenerates into unintelligent point-scoring and personal attacks.
Christians who take part in skirmishes in social and political arenas also risk tarnishing the One for whom they’re an ambassador. Yes, two Christians may legitimately back opposing policies; our faith fully informs our political beliefs, but it does not tether us to political agendas. Amongst compassionate, intelligent followers of Christ, some believe (for instance) that immigration should be limited and some that refugee quotas should be raised.
Do you have an opinion about immigration policy? Or poverty alleviation? Or the minimum wage? Did you find the last five sentences hard to read? I found them hard to write; I have firm opinions that I wish carried biblical weight. However we are rarely experts on such topics, and even experts offer only well-informed opinions, not divine revelation.
Our zeal for such issues can exceed our zeal for those plain biblical directives that threaten society’s sacred cows – particularly the idol of personal autonomy. God leaves us in no doubt regarding his expectation of us to sacrifice for those he has placed in our lives, his exclusive right to end human life and his design for marriage.
This is not a license to scold. Eternal truths, for those who take the Bible as inspired by the Creator, deserve to be expressed thoughtfully and persuasively – not, primarily, via hit-and-run memes, and never in a manner devoid of love.
So the following articles remind us, first, that universal, God-given truths unite believers in Christ. And secondly, that the myriad of “facts” we are flooded with are neither divinely inspired nor simply verified. It takes diligence aligning human knowledge to divine revelation, and it’s hard work evaluating our human news sources.
And how should we express the partial knowledge we have about this world and the opinions we form? Let’s do so humbly, and in some instances – an option I’m growing fonder of with each election cycle – not at all.
Maryanne Wardlaw is TSCF’s communications manager