From Randy: Today’s blog is by Sara Barratt, from her book Stand Up, Stand Strong, which was recently released.
Stand Up, Stand Strong is an extraordinary book. Sara clearly understands the appealing but deceptive cultural values that confuse and derail countless believers, who, apart from learning to think critically, will likely abandon their faith. Sara is immersed in a biblical worldview that permeates everything she says. She writes with rare wisdom and insight. Often, I read books that don’t quite live up to what they could have been. This one actually does. I highly recommend it for young people everywhere. Older believers could benefit just as much—this is a terrific book for families, groups and churches to discuss together!
Hope you enjoy these reflections from Sara on the subject of truth.
In 2016, the Oxford Dictionary named post-truth their word of the year.
According to their definition, post-truth is “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
A post-truth environment exists when people are directed by subjective feelings rather than objective facts. A post-truth world is not one in which truth has ceased to exist, but one in which truth has ceased to matter. Truth becomes personal, all “truths” (aka opinions) are equally valid, and feelings have the upper hand. “What’s true for you doesn’t have to be true for me” is the mantra of the post-truth age.
We’re all susceptible to this. Just a glance around our culture and within our own hearts makes that abundantly clear. We innately stick with beliefs and ideas that make us feel good. While post-truth mindsets are becoming more evident culture-wide, these seeds of relativistic thinking grow in each of our hearts.
This clash with truth occurs on a daily basis in ways big and small. Have you ever read a news story only to find out later it was slanted to the writer’s agenda and didn’t tell the full story? Or have you ever seen someone believe something (or held a belief yourself) just because it was posted on social media when a few moments of research would have quickly debunked the idea? Or had a conversation and listened to someone stubbornly hold to their perspective even if concrete facts supported another view? Each of these examples point to a post-truth mindset.
In short, we want truth when it conforms to our own point of view and affirms what we already believe. Facts are willingly sacrificed to project an agenda or affirm one’s own bias.
Post-truth thinking is able to thrive because people have become confused on what truth even means. What is truth, anyway? Is it possible to know truth? How can you be certain of what’s true?
The answer to these questions comes when we understand the various forms of truth that exist. One form is subjective truth. “Country music is the best” is an example of subjective truth. That statement is 100 percent true in my opinion because I love country music, but the same statement is 100 percent false for someone who can’t stand John Denver or Carrie Underwood. The statement is only true for people who enjoy country music—it’s a subjective truth claim because it deals with preference and personal taste. In cases of subjective, personal inclinations, “True for you, but not for me” is, well, true.
On the other hand, there is objective truth. “Grass is green,” “George Washington was the first president of the United States,” and “Two plus two equals four” are all statements of objective truth. You can’t argue with them and you can’t disagree with them. They’re simply statements of reality. In cases of objective actuality, “True for you, but not for me” is simply ludicrous.
Secular culture doesn’t deny the existence of objective truth (you’ll never find a politician arguing that grass really isn’t green . . . I hope). But it does argue over what does and does not equal objective truth. Matters of religion, morality, and identity have all moved from the “objective” category into the “subjective.” “Jesus is the Son of God,” “Gender is fixed, not fluid,” and “Marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman” are now considered statements more reflective of personal opinion than objective reality. But that all depends on who gets to determine objective reality.
According to culture, we are the ones who get to decide based on our preferences. According to God, He is the only One who has the authority to make that distinction. Moral absolutes do exist if a moral authority also exists. But because even the existence of God has become a subjective truth, everything else in our lives and society that really matters has also been relegated to the realm of the subjective. And post-truth is born the moment the objective is placed in the position of the subjective.
Post-truth thinking is deadly. If we don’t know the truth, how will we know how to live? How will we define right and wrong? For Christians seeking the absolute truth of God, post-truth thinking is incredibly serious.
Every generation since Adam and Eve has experienced forms of post-truth thinking, as humanity has attempted to rewrite the script of truth with their own opinions. As Proverbs says, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirits” (16:2). We all want our ways to be right. But our ways are human and fallible. God’s are not. God’s truth is founded upon reality as much as “two plus two equals four.” In fact, more so. Without God’s truth, no other truth would exist, and we’d be floundering in a world where everything is subjective. God gave us the gift of truth so we could live with clarity, wisdom, and order. But to do so, we have to accept His standards above our own.
Is it any wonder there’s an attack on truth in our society when the enemy of our souls is the father of lies? Satan “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Why wouldn’t Satan target truth? Getting people to doubt truth and believe lies causes them to speak his native language.
God, however, is the opposite of post-truth. Every word God says is true. Every aspect of God is true. There are no hidden theories or shady agendas when it comes to God. Truth matters to God. That’s why truth should matter to us.
As Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Truth is not a personal preference. Truth is a person, and that person is Christ.
Sara Barratt is a 22-year-old author, speaker, and Editor-in-Chief of TheRebelution.com. She's the author of Love Riot and Stand Up, Stand Strong: A Call to Bold Faith in a Confused Culture. Her passion is challenging teens to live sold-out and set-apart for Jesus. Connect with her on her website sarabarratt.com and on Facebook and Instagram.