The year was 2005.
I was just finishing up my undergraduate degree at Southwest Baptist University. But that day, I had actually skipped class to attend the Missouri Baptist Convention.
I found myself in the second row at Second Baptist Church in Springfield. It was full. Very full. And very old, very white and very male.
The keynote speaker was Voddie Baucham. He took the stage and began to passionately share about his recently released book, “The Ever-Loving Truth.”
It’s a book that opens with the line, “Truth is under attack in our culture. The person who believes in ideas, concepts, values or facts that are true for all people in all places for all times is rare, indeed.”
He warned of the dangers associated with the end of modernism. The death of absolute truth. A world filled with shades of gray.
Right and wrong would no longer be black and white. Truth would no longer be truth. Ethical absolutism would be replaced with moral relativism – the belief that my right and wrong may be different than your right and wrong. Reality would be reduced to a collection of grays.
The warning was clear: We must hold on to absolute truth. If we allow truth to become relative, we give everyone permission to define their own truth.
And how can the gospel – the ultimate truth – survive in a world where truth doesn’t matter? That’s the question we were asked over and over and over again.
We could not allow post-modernism – the de facto worldview of millennials – to invade our church or our country. We had to stand strong.
Now it’s 2019. Phones don’t flip, Netflix doesn’t mail, and truth isn’t truth. The question we were asked has been answered. Baucham’s prediction has come true, with an asterisk.
It isn’t the millennials. Yes, millennials have played a part, but it’s a different generation that is nailing the nail in the coffin of absolute truth.
Before you get upset and stop reading or send me an angry letter, let me make this clear: I am not writing about politics.
I firmly believe our country is better when there are conservative and liberal ideas, Republican and Democratic visions of what our country can be.
This post is not about tax policy or foreign policy or immigration policy. It’s not about policy at all. It’s about honesty.
And let me also acknowledge that all politicians lie: Obama lied. Clinton lied. William Howard Taft lied.
But something has changed about the lies. They are no longer exaggerations or exclusions to make campaign promises sound better. No, they have become something more blatant, more intentional.
The lies have evolved into fake news.
They are denials of the obvious – historical rewrites and fictional narratives created to tell a different, less true story.
They are memes rooted in falsehoods, begging to be shared by those more interested in their own right and wrong, their own shade of gray, than the truth.
And, most frustrating of all, they are easily disproved. All it takes is a few minutes on Google to discover they are lies.
Why does this matter, at least to Christians?
Because, let’s be honest, we are called to share (Matthew 28:19-20) a pretty unbelievable story – a story of resurrection.
Jesus has told us to go into the world and to tell people that it’s possible to walk out of the grave. To someone struggling to find hope, to someone experiencing the worst this world has to offer, that story sounds too good to be true.
But it’s not. It’s the gospel.
If we spend our time defending liars and sharing lies on social media, our credibility is called into question.
If our news feed is full of stories about how schools have banned the pledge (not true) or how the pope endorsed one candidate over another (not true) or how a pizza place is running an underground child abuse ring (not true), why would anyone believe us when we tell them the Easter story?
Not all of these fake news stories are “bad stories.” For example, I saw a post that included a picture of a soldier in the snow guarding The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
It pointed out that he was doing this while the government is still shut down. Inspirational? Definitely. But the picture was from 2016.
So, for the love of God (literally), please think before you post. Take a few minutes to google it. Visit Snopes. And if you can’t verify it, just post a cat picture instead.
If a politician (or even the president) lies, call them out. You can still support their policies while condemning their dishonesties. Hold them accountable. The world needs to see that truth still matters; that truth is still truth.
Proverbs 12:19 tells us, “Truthful lips endure forever.” In other words, sharing truth has an eternal quality to it.
Truth gives life. And the world needs life. It needs a story of resurrection.
Does sharing fake news make it harder to share that story? Absolutely.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series focused on engaging the emerging generations of faith leaders. Learn more about EthicsDaily.com’s “Emerging Voices” and “U:21” series here. A version of this article first appeared on Miller’s blog, The Caffeinated Ramblings of Chris. It is used with permission.
Chris Miller is the associate pastor at Kaw Prairie Community Church in Lenexa, Kansas. He is a 2015 graduate of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas.