Making desciples in a post-truth world, Part 2
Back in September, I wrote what I consider to be "Part 1" of a conversation on making disciples in a post-truth world. This newest faith column is a continuation of those thoughts and of that conversation. While that first article summarized what we are witnessing in our culture from a Biblical worldview, I think it's important to address what is at the root of what is unfolding before our eyes. While there isn't sufficient time to unpack that in its entirety, I do want to take a moment and address the myth of neutrality as well as the predominant worldview that has led us to this place. I want to caution the reader not to read what comes next as any kind of endorsement of Christian nationalism. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, I am going to speak the Truth into the situation from a Biblical standpoint.
Let's start with the Biblical understanding, which will form the basis of my position. In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the way, the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
When we pause for a moment to think about what Jesus is saying, He is actually making some pretty profound truth claims. Not only is He making the claim that He is the only way to the Father (exclusivity), but He is making the claim that He is Truth. He isn't just one way, but THE way. He isn't just one truth, but THE Truth. He personifies it. And speaking of Christ in Colossians 2:3, Paul states, "...in whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Paul goes on to warn his readers in Colossae very directly in chapter 2, verses 4-8 that: "4) Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5) For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
"6) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7) rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
"8) Beware lest anyone cheat you (or take you captive) through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
Would you pause with me for a moment, again, to process precisely what Paul is clearly saying to you and me? In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Christ is the source of knowledge and wisdom. If we want true knowledge and true wisdom, we must look to the source and find them in Jesus. To try and find them elsewhere, according to Paul and according to Scripture, is futile. Yet this is exactly what our culture has done, and this is precisely what many parents are doing. The futility of our culture and its rapid decline is not a mystery at all. It is exactly what one would expect to happen when the foundations of truth and knowledge are fundamentally rejected in favor of secularization. That is the great lie Paul talks about in Romans 1 that subjects men to futility. They trade the truth of God for a lie and worship creation as opposed to the creator.
For the Christian, the conclusion is obvious. You can't build upon any foundation apart from Christ if Truth matters. If Jesus is Truth, if in Him are found wisdom and knowledge, then it stands to reason that to remove Jesus from anything is to build on a false foundation. It is futile. Worse, it is deadly. If you consciously remove Truth, then everything you are building upon is, by definition, false. I'm sure the discerning reader can understand where I'm going at this point.
The predominant worldview driving our culture and the education of our children is postmodernism. It is a rejection of objective truth, and it states that such a truth does not exist. Postmodernism, by definition, is antichrist in its nature. It is the current narrative and driving force behind everything around us but especially education and social narratives. The obvious problem is that postmodernism and everything built upon it cannot solve the problems our world is facing because it has already been subjected to futility. If you're not building on the Truth, you're building upon a lie. If you're building upon a lie, then all you're ever going to produce is false. And as with all lies, one begets another, which begets another, and none of them ever lead to anything but a web of deception that eventually overtakes and distorts reality.
While time once again does not permit the opportunity to discuss in depth the appropriate responses, it is important to address the lie or myth of neutrality. It is impossible to hold onto neutrality when the world is anything but neutral. To remove truth from anything be it education, politics, social narratives, etc. is to subject those things and society at large to futility. Worse, by allowing those false foundations to flourish, we are perpetuating false narratives at the expense of truth and all in the name of neutrality. It isn't possible. You can't remove the source of all Truth and expect to not have consequences. You can't remove truth and expect what is produced to be of any real or lasting eternal value. To remain neutral is ultimately to reject truth. As Jesus puts it plainly in Matthew 12: "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."
The myth of neutrality is one of the many subtle but dangerous lies that many have bought into. There is no neutrality, and neutrality is not an option if we love our children, love our neighbors, and we want to see people and society flourish. People can't flourish apart from truth, they only perish apart from it. If Jesus is Truth, why would we think it possible that we can remove Jesus and not devolve into chaos? It's become rapidly and readily apparent that we cannot. What we're witnessing in our culture illustrates this better than any words ever could. There is no mystery as to what we see happening. The only question that remains is whether or not we will continue to perpetuate that lie.
We are standing at the precipice of a unique moment in our culture. This is especially true for Christian parents who are trying to figure out next steps and how to protect and empower their children. I want to encourage you to join in the conversation of how Christian parents, churches, businesses, etc. can begin to answer these questions and especially in the arena of how we educate our children. It may be difficult, but it may also be the most important conversation and action of this generation. If we value our kids, if we value Truth, then these conversations are not optional. Jesus IS Truth, and in Him knowledge and wisdom are found. If we believe that, then neutrality is not an option.
Aaron Mapes is the lead pastor at First Assembly of God. He can be reached at 541-447-7254.
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