Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
Buzzwords in our society tend to come and go with some regularity. But it is the irony of modern buzzwords more than their duration that currently has me shaking my head a bit.
For the last few years, the main buzzword(s) being bandied about was “my truth” or some similar variation. “Beth used to be Bob,” a pundit would say, “But she transitioned. She is living ‘her truth.’” Or at other times it may be, “Yes, that person is an individual, but their preferred pronoun is ‘they.’ Yes, that is technically a plural pronoun, but they are just living their truth.”
Recently, though, the main buzzword of society has changed. I do not know if there is an Exalted Council Of Societal Buzzwords somewhere that meets, exchanges secret handshakes, and then deliberates over the what and when of them, but however it happened, “my truth” has now given way to “misinformation.”
“Fred says that Ivermectin saved his life when he had covid, and he has put a video on YouTube to that effect. He must be banned for life for ‘misinformation.’” Or perhaps, “Sylvia posted on Facebook that she got myocarditis after getting vaccinated. She needs to be reported for misinformation.”
It seems to me that the Exalted Council Of Societal Buzzwords (which I have decided does indeed exist, and how dare you question my truth) made a bit of a tactical error in having the latter of those buzzwords follow hard on the heels of the former. It makes any thinking people begin to ponder the very nature of truth itself since both views of truth cannot possibly be valid. Either everyone gets to decide what truth is, in which case there is no such thing as misinformation, or things are either true or false regardless of how we feel about them, in which case truth is truth and does not cater at all to the feelings and opinions of anyone.
If the former proposition is true (everyone gets to decide what truth is, in which case there is no such thing as misinformation) then we may safely end this column now. In fact, we can end this very newspaper and never print it again. Who needs “news” when truth is a personal choice? “The Chinese just launched a nuclear attack, you say, and we have just a few minutes to live? Hah! I say they didn’t, and I am going downtown for ice cream. You live your truth, I’ll live mine.”
But if the latter proposition is true (things are either true or false regardless of how we feel about them, in which case truth is truth and does not cater at all to the feelings and opinions of anyone) then we have something to talk about and some facts that can guide us no matter what issue we are examining. And clearly the latter proposition is true; things are either true or false regardless of how we feel about them, in which case truth is truth and does not cater at all to the feelings and opinions of anyone. So what, then, are some things we should know about truth? Fortunately, the Bible, the ultimate source of truth, gives us some amazing guidance. This column cannot possibly be long enough to cover everything God’s Word teaches about truth, but here are a few of the more prominent ones.
First of all, people can believe something with every fiber of their being and still be utterly wrong. Eve believed the devil wanted all the best for her, Samson believed he was invincible, Satan believed he could defeat God, David believed he had successfully hidden his great sin, and the Prodigal Son believed things would be better in the far country. Little wonder then that, despite the even earlier Hallmarkesque buzzword “just follow your heart,” Proverbs 28:26 says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.”
Second, among humanity, truth is a discovered thing, not a decreed thing. That being the case, a devotion to chosen “experts” (on anything) is far inferior to an actual pursuit of truth. The great apostle Paul came to Berea to preach, and Acts 17:11 says, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Paul the expert preached – and the Bereans did their own investigation to see if he was right. That practice has definitely fallen out of favor of late. Not only are people mocked for doing their own research (on anything, not just covid), but they are also handed a small list of pre-approved experts who must be regarded as speaking infallibly, no matter how many other highly-trained specialists disagree, and woe to anyone who actually follows what used to be the standard procedure of getting a second opinion and then deciding for themselves.
Third, truth is truth, whether in the majority or in the minority. Truth is not determined by votes or retweets or subscribers or viewership numbers. The entire world in Genesis 6 believed Noah and his family were cracked, but only until the flood came and they found out that the truth rested with the eight, not with the world. Ten spies said Canaan could not be taken; two said that it could, and the minority proved to be right. The multitude said, “He is a fraud; crucify Him!” But three days later, Jesus arose and proved them all wrong. Truth is truth, whether in the majority or in the minority. Robbert Goddard was mocked by the enormous New York Times in 1920, but his work put a man on the moon in 1969 and brought an apology that was 49 years late in coming.
These qualities of truth, among others, are what give truth its value. And because of what truth is, it does not need to fear the light of day, and we should always cast a skeptical eye at anyone who seems intent on using Orwell’s 1984 as a “how-to manual” rather than as a cautionary tale.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and other resources are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner