How has the church fallen into the "post-truth" culture?

(Joshua Spare) #1

In Abdu Murray’s Saving Truth, Murray discusses the nature of a culture which is descibed by the word “post-truth.” He clarifies that there are two types, a hard and a soft post-truth. Whereas the hard mode is “a willingness to propagate blatant falsehoods, knowing they are false, because doing so serves a higher political or social agenda,” Murray describes the so-called soft mode as follows:

The first is “soft” mode, by which I mean that we may acknowledge that truth exists – or that certain things are true – but we don’t care about the truth if it gets in the way of our personal preferences.

Murray then proceeds, in the subsequent chapter, to discuss the existence and impact of this attitude within the church, drawing out two practical outworkings of the operation of a soft post-truth attitude on the church:

The church has succumbed to post-truth’s soft expression in two seemingly contrary ways. On the one hand, Christians have compromised the clarity of Scripture for the sake of acceptance and to avoid conflict. On the other hand, Christians have indulged the cultural practice of vilifying those with whom they disagree.

My question, then, is as you read though Murray’s assessment of the church, what is your response? Do you agree? If so, how do you see these attitudes of compromising or of vilifying playing out in your own life or in the life of the church around you? Do you disagree? If so, do you think the assessment is wrong or incomplete?

And finally, if Murray’s assessment is accurate, what verses come to mind that bear upon this situation and can lead us to repentance of sinful compromise or villainy and towards Godly engagement with the world and the culture in which we live?

(Candace foster) #2

I totally agree with Murray’s assessment of the church today. I think Hosea 4:6 has always spoken to me on this idea…”my people are destroyed for lack of,knowledge…”

I live in the Deep South, outside of New Orleans. I think here we still have the cultural vestiges of religion so there is the sense of “us and them”. And so to the second part of his assessment, there is the vilifying of those who may not have the “form” of religion as taught through parochial schools or at grandma’s knee.

An example from my life. A relative was raised in the church although from all experiences is not regenerate. He is highly condemning of those who don’t reach the moral standards that he absorbed in his younger days. If it weren’t sad, it would be amusing because the irony of condemning another on standards that you don’t really live daily…sort of the Archie Bunker vibe!

As to the first part of Murray’s assessment, I totally agree. I see the New Age influence within the church as a direct result of the lack of knowledge of Biblical truths. I could go on and on about this as it is very disturbing to me but I am sure that most of you have seen the same things…perhaps in different guises.

(SeanO) #3

@jspare Thought provoking quotes. Here are a few ideas to hopefully bring about further discussion.

How to Avoid Compromise

When I think of this topic I often think of Jesus with the woman at the well. Jesus was so gentle and compassionate to this woman and yet He was absolutely clear that the Jews were the only ones who knew the true God. If we compromise knowledge of the true God our ministry becomes meaningless. We want to help - we want to lead those in distress and poverty of soul to safety - but if we worship false gods to conform to society we can only lead them to death. Salvation is in Christ alone. That does not mean we are not compassionate and gracious - but we must be clear that there is only one place to find life.

John 4:22 - You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Acts 4:12 - Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

Here is a quote from ‘The Silver Chair’ by C. S. Lewis that I really like:

“Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.
“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”

How to Avoid Vilifying

I think the answer here is always that if we really understood the Gospel we could not vilify anyone because we ourselves have been guilty of sin as well. We can stand up against injustice and wickedness, but we would always have an open hand to the repentant sinner because we too were once sinners made saints only by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. To understand the Gospel at this profound level we must do 2 things:

1 - Recognize that we are sinners - deserving of God’s judgment and unworthy of His love - blind, naked and poor. We see a Church in Revelation that had not been able to admit this reality. I think this is often the source of vilifying - when we have justified ourselves in our own eyes through our religious practices or our culture, we then fell justified in condemning others.

Revelation 3:17 - You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

2 - Realize that God wants us, in all of our wretchedness, to come running home in repentance that He might clothe us in the glory and honor of His Son.

Isaiah 55:1 - Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

I John 4:19 - We love because he first loved us.

Titus 3:1-8 - Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #4

i have recently finished his book and i must say, it’s absolutely fantastic! And yes I wholeheartedly agree with Murray’s assessment of the church about falling into the “post-truth” culture and also his conviction that the church also helped contribute to the Culture of Confusion. i love his example of the misinterpretation of Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged” and how its taken out of the whole context “in our effort to be liked,” as Murray puts it. the second “seduction” that Murray says the church has succumbed to is the “us verses them” attitude. This is one I can identify most with. I have to admit that I’ve been caught up in this same attitude. Murray really says it best, “Too often, Christians conveniently forget the fact that like everyone else, they need a Savior.” Powerful words. Immediately what comes to mind when I think of this is the song by Casting Crowns “If We Are The Body.” Too often i have found myself walking through a local mall and realize that I’m actually condemning so many of “them” that walk by me. It’s a struggle for sure. It’s as if we think that our frail knowledge of God’s truth makes us better than the those who are ignorant to the truth. I can’t help but be reminded of C.S. Lewis and what he says in Mere Christianity:
“My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives.”
He says this on the topic of marriage and divorce, but i think the quote works here too. What Lewis says he means by that is that Christian marriage shouldn’t be forced by law, but should be quite distinct from non-Christian marriage. Jesus continues on Matthew 7 to tell us that before we judge others (With humility, love, and gentleness, with the best of intentions in mind), we are look at ourselves first.
this is what first comes to mind when you bring up the question.

(Ingrid McHenry) #5

“According to a new survey from Pew Research, New Age beliefs are common in America, even among people who are highly religious in traditional ways.” - here’s a great article explaining the nuances of beliefs

I’ve been reading John Gresham Machen’s book, Christianity and Liberalism, written in 1923. His observations pretty much mirror the pew research study as well as Murray’s views. It very well could have been written today. Interesting nothing has changed in 95 years (and I think he was behind about 75 yrs). Satan is still working the subtleties of pantheism to confuse and deceive. Why hasn’t the church caught on to his MO? Why aren’t we better Bereans? Why do we compromise? Why aren’t we more bold? If the church truly believed the Word, we’d be afraid to compromise & vilify. Going on 170 years of compromise now - how do we change this?