Pastor's Page

A "Post-truth" Culture
By Pastor Rick Mensing (adapted from an
article by John Stonestreet in Breakpoint)

The Christian satire website, Babylon Bee, has had a lot of great headlines. One of my favorites so far: “Progressive Evangelical Leaders Meet to Affirm Doctrine of ‘Sola Feels.’” "Sola Feels" means "feeling alone."  Adherents to this imaginary creed believe that “things that make us feel bad…are wrong. The things that give us all the happy feels…are true, right, and good.” Now of course, the scary part about satire is how closely it often mirrors reality.

On a related note, Oxford Dictionaries released its 2016 word of the year as: “Post-truth,” which they define as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

I can hardly think of a better description of where we are right now as a culture.

This concept of “post-truth” is a bit different from garden variety relativism. It doesn’t discount the existence of truth. Rather, a post-truth society is one in which truth takes a back seat to emotion—where feelings effectively replace facts.

A look back at the fallout over the election of President Trump provides a good illustration. Consider the meltdown among what many are calling the “snowflakes” on college campuses over President Trump's election.  Despite exit polls showing that a huge percentage of eligible millennial voters stayed home on Election Day, many of these students just couldn't handle the outcome. Their schools sent letters of condolence, exams were cancelled, even hot chocolate and hugs from administrators were offered. Faced with a reality that contradicts what they feel should have happened, many just have not been able to cope.

A post-truth culture also leads us to equate disagreement with hatred. "Loving" me in this culture means "agreeing" with me. And as many conservative speakers who’ve been chased from university campuses by angry students can tell you, when feelings are equated with a person’s identity and even reality, contradicting those feelings is the same as attacking the person.

The post-truth culture can also lead us to ignore reality altogether.  Post-truth culture dominates Facebook and Twitter feeds. Look at the epidemic of fake news that fill our lives everyday. Even Christians too often fall for completely fabricated headlines and hoaxes, largely because they validate our feelings.
The advertising agencies have been using this tendency to place feeling over fact for years

So where does all this leave us? Well, the Bible has plenty to say on the subject of truth. In fact, we follow the One Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Who came into the world to testify to the truth, a truth which—He told His disciples—would set them free. Truth must govern our emotions, not the other way around.

The 2016 word of the year doesn’t bode well for our culture. As we have seen since it was announced as the word of the year, the consequences of placing feelings above truth are devastating.  We must insist on prioritizing facts before emotions.

The “doctrine” of “sola feels” (feeling alone) is supposed to be a joke. So let’s make sure it stays that way.  

Blessings as you follow Christ's truth, Pastor Rick
Adapted from an article by John Stonestreet in Breakpoint