What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer. (Francis Bacon Essays: Of Truth).
Jesus promised His disciples: I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him . . . When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come (John 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:13).
In the last edition we placed the emphasis on practising the presence of God and seeking to develop the rhythm of the so-called ‘Jesus prayer’ in our hearts. In this edition we will make a start at addressing an issue that is rarely out of the news in these days: where does truth lie in an era in which fake news is increasingly intrusive and wielded as a weapon of propaganda?
None of us can hope to even begin to obtain an entirely full or accurate picture of highly complex and many-sided scenarios, but we hope that by exploring certain ‘truth-based’ themes in the next few editions we will all be able to pray with greater understanding about matters we are usually content to spend more time observing (and either cheering or deploring) rather than actually praying for.
Many of us sense the effects of the populist sea-change that is catapulting a number of countries to adopt strongly nationalist standpoints, with little apparent perception of the dangers that accompany such developments. In the process, objective truth has often been a casualty. A good way to sum this up would be to use the phrase that was designated ‘Word of the Year’ by the Oxford Dictionaries in 2016: “post-truth.” It is used of bold statements and assertions that are made without any supporting evidence. The ever expanding influence of political correctness is also playing a major part in tilting people towards the world of ‘alternative facts’.
Those of us who grew up during the Cold War learnt to recognise the ways by which the Soviet regime made full use of a constant string of propaganda weapons, false charges and all types of allegation to ‘bend’ truth and to punish real or potential opponents of the official communist viewpoint. We will look at the origins of this in a subsequent article which will explore the satanic lies that were built into the entire Marxist structure and heritage.
For people to whom words and truths matter, it is distressing to watch lies being brandished as weapons of propaganda. In a fallen world, truth always has to be chosen – whereas lies come naturally, as Jesus warned:
[the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. (John 8:44,55)
In speaking, as the Bible does, of ‘the truth’ we are speaking of a Person rather than a viewpoint. In other words we are ultimately less concerned with some ‘abstract’ set of moral qualities than with Jesus Himself – who is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6) That is why we can and should pray with all our heart to be lovers of truth.
The post truth generation is an evolutionary concept of the doctrine of the survival of the fittest, with those who are most able and willing to parade and insist on their ideas all too often imposing their way of seeing matters, leaving so-called ‘lesser mortals’ (whether sullen, subdued, or supportive) to follow in their wake. The eternal picture is entirely different: Jesus is utterly concerned with the least and the last; those who acknowledge their need for them and are eager to go His way. It is the proud and self-contained He has problems with!
Jesus warned, however, that there would always be a considerable cost for taking such a stand for truth (e.g. Luke 5:32. Luke 12:49-53).What we have shared in this edition concerning the heroes of faith, like Father Simon, who bring the glory of God to places such as Garbage City expresses this so well! I hope you will find the perspectives we will be presenting in this teaching series helpful for gaining spiritual awareness and discernment concerning some of the trends that we face – in the Church as well as in the world.