Religion Magazine

Shall the Post-truth Set You Free?

By Richardl @richardlittleda

If Christians believe that 'the truth shall set you free', then what about post-truth, I wonder? At first this young upstart phrase in the Oxford English Dictionary sounds like something Christians have been lamenting for the past few decades - namely the rejection of those propositional truths which they hold dear. However, the definition is rather more nuanced than that, referring instead to 'circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief '. It seems to me like I have spent a lot of my working life saying to people from the pulpit and elsewhere that our obligation to God's truth stops not with accepting it but engaging with it. The extent to which emotional and personal belief are affected is a measure of success, rather than failure, in terms of truth.

That said, the core historical truths on which Christian faith is based cannot be replaced with an unsubstantiated 'inclination' to believe. There are truths, from which truth is deduced and by which truth is lived out, so to speak. A new dictionary definition which sounds like a threat may actually prove to be an ally, if it allows us to articulate why truth matters and what we do with it.

Two days ago, I came across the work of Stephen Wildish on 'the importance of colour', where he shows how identical shapes take on different meanings according to colour. Click here to see what I mean and note the example below.

How do you see this new definition - threat or opportunity?

Shall the post-truth set you free?
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