“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776)
We read this sentence, and we believe it, we trust it, we know it is true. It is what has been taught and reinforced in the classroom. Some of us have had to memorize it, write essays about it, or recite it as part of a 5th grade play.
We don’t doubt the truth of this important sentence in our nation’s history. We may doubt its adherence, or whether the equality and freedoms it prescribes are truly equally experienced, or whether our broad interpretation today is what the founders intended during their era replete with inequalities. But, whatever we question and wonder, we don’t argue with the truth of its premise - we are created equal.
God knit us all with purpose. We were all created by the same Creator and made in His image, and nowhere in the Bible does it say we were unequally made - different: yes, unequal: no.
While we easily believe the truths outlined in the Declaration, many struggle to trust the truth of the Bible. The texts are millennia apart in their creation, with one more widely translated and investigated and verified throughout the centuries. The Bible has endured more scrutiny and testing than the national document we revere, and yet, we readily question the Bible’s credibility.
In 2016, the Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” the word of the year, brought by an information era and political season rife with misinformation, fake news, endless skepticism and doubt. It is not surprising as we struggle in search of what is true.
Truth in a post-truth world is hard to determine, and researchers, pollsters and media outlets are scrambling to find explanations for the current chaos of information and all its consequences. Many are recognizing that the beneficial access to information we enjoy not only brings great opportunities for accountability and transparency, but also brings avenues for untruths and doubt.
The media challenge of our time is how to help audiences discern what to believe. This is the same challenge before churches and congregations.
How do we as a church help a public so fraught with doubt, BELIEVE?
How do we help believers and non-believers know what is true in a post-truth world? Many might argue, we have to start young as we did with teaching the Declaration. Or, we have to provide the right scholarly literature to show the veracity of the Bible. Others may say it requires a leap of faith to trust what is true. There are a variety of claims on how to discern truth. Some say truth is tradition or relativistic or intuitive or mystical.
At Brave we believe TRUTH is evidential; it is what logic and evidence point to.
It is what we can know. It is what is. We seek to understand this, as we listen to Jesus in John 8:31-32:
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (NIV)
The truth will set you free. As skeptics, we can become paralyzed, trapped by never-ending questions of who and what to trust. We are the opposite of free, scattered in mind and bound in spirit by the weight of doubt and lack of knowledge.
So, we must KNOW THE TRUTH.
This here is the hard part. To know something is to study it, to cull the accurate information and internalize it. Just as we know the first lines of our nation’s declaration, trust their meaning, and believe their equal application is paramount to society, we must also confidently trust and believe our Bible as true.
For more important than our Declaration, the Bible is the foundation of our faith and our life. The Declaration remains our framework for citizenship, but the Bible is the nourishment and guidance for our life.
Pastor Daren’s Truth in a Post-Truth World Talk Series is helping listeners to know just what is true. It is informing us and our future conversations with logic and evidence. We have gone through facts of the bible’s circulation, translation, durability, impact, and composition. We have reviewed details of the timeline in which it was created, comparing it to other trusted, ancient texts. We have analyzed the claims of contradictions by scholars who question the Bible’s accuracy.
As we navigate the evidence, we are reminded that the Truth is available to us, if we use logic and evidence to discern it. We can know the truth. And, we can be set free by it. But, we are also learning that this takes effort, and maybe even a little post-5th-grade memorization too.
We can agree with the first lines of our Declaration because we know the terms. We believe that the self-evident truths listed are in fact self-evident. And we believe this because it is what we have learned.
We may join with doubting neighbors and question whether God and the Bible’s teachings are self-evident because of what we do not know and have yet to learn. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, something is self-evident, if it is clearly true and requires no explanation.
Considering this, we can recognize the gift of God’s Word and His Son. God foresaw our humanity and our current era of doubt. We have the Bible, with all its accounts and explanations, in order to know and hold His teaching, to know Him. To know Him is to make His truth self-evident, clearly true and requiring no explanation. This is our journey in a post-truth world, to seek Him, to seek the truth he gave us, and to make His truth ours.
Prayer: We pray that God and His Word become self-evident for all of His creation. And, that we recognize that truth is what logic and evidence point to. By knowing this, may we daily seek more evidence and logic from His Word. May we use what we have learned to share His truths with those we meet, especially those who come to us with questions. Amen.
To join in listening to Brave’s Truth In A Post-Truth World Talk Series, click here.