The election season has started. Perhaps it never stopped after our last presidential election. But now it’s in full voice, bragging, accusing, spending, spending, spending. And with national elections come the truth squads, the fact-checkers who try to point out half-truths, claims with no basis in truth, and promises that in truth cannot be fulfilled. Because of the inflamed rhetoric, this season may not be much of a season of truth, but, as in all times, it is a season for truth.
Truth is often shadowed and shaped by folks who want to change our minds or our behavior. We can explore how those folks are becoming more effective and what that does to our spiritual lives is for another time. This column, then, is not a call for “fact-checking” this speech or that advertisement. I want to deal with something more basic, the move from absolute truth to relative truth that has been going on for a long time but is more evident now. I want to remember and remind you that Christian living and thinking must be based on truth—God’s truth.
Of course, we base our lives on God’s truth. What other kind of truth is there besides God’s truth? In terms of absolutes, there is no other truth that deals with human origin and destiny. Only God’s truth reveals humanity’s place in the creation. Only God has given humankind moral standards that allow us to flourish. But, for some time people with influence or those who want to gain influence have replaced God’s truth with a new “truth.” Specifically, truths of right and wrong have been set aside as no longer applicable.
Today, as a result of a half-century of teaching “new truth,” in schools of all sorts, public and private, grade school to graduate studies, the idea of right and wrong absolutes is out of favor. Tolerance, understanding, and acceptance are presented as alternatives to teaching what is right and wrong. After all, so says this “new truth,” a person’s or a group’s view of the world, their standards of right and wrong are based on their culture, their heritage, their place in society, their beliefs. As long as it works for them, it’s acceptable. Moral absolutes revealed truth, God and His one way only—none of these are really true so the “new truth” teaching goes. We’re going to become free when we grasp this new way of relating and accepting others. And remember, Jesus said, “and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32, NASB). New truth surely leads to new freedom.
Folks wanting to use Jesus to support what they say is the truth love this verse. They present the latest intellectual fad or theory as the true way of seeing things, understanding matters. And, when you see that, you will be free, so their “pitch” goes. Of course they never call attention to the preceding verse, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine and….” Jesus’ truth brings freedom as it is absorbed and practiced. Folks forget, also, Jesus challenging words, “I am the way, and the truth. and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6 NASB). (My emphasis) Jesus is the truth, not simply a teacher or practitioner of truth.
The idea that a person or group, a culture or nation can set aside God’s truth is dangerous. Loosed from the Creator and His Son who died that we might be free in Him, human beings revert to the proud, self-determining disobedience of Adam and Eve. Still, we must not use intolerance, impatience, and rejection to oppose people who embrace the idea that right and wrong are totally culturally conditioned. You and I, also, are shaped by such things as our heritage, status, education, and family. We are not yet examples of God’s truth, but God is changing us.