Buying truth and making sense of it all

Earlier today, a Facebook friend pointed to a tendency when people share information e.g. on Facebook for them to spread falsehoods if it happens to back up their point of view. It got me thinking …

buy truth

The comment was in context of a number of posts to do with, who else, Donald Trump, and this was particularly aimed at supporters of a man he considers to be a serial liar (e.g. see here), who may use dubious sources and do whataboutism. Following the November 11th Remembrance Day celebrations and an event Trump was supposed to attend but did not because of the weather there were posts mocking Trump for his non attendance on what was considered spurious grounds by among others two respected Christian friends. It seemed to me Trump had a legitimate reason for not attending but truth was cast aside because those who posted did not like Trump and the story told by various mainstream media happened to fit this negative portrayal. It seemed ironic given Trumps support of the military and well documented respect for those who died.

Ever since Trump became a serious Presidential candidate over two years ago, I have been keenly following his dramatic journey, and have written about this in my e-book: “Donald J Trump – bad, mad or good?” I concluded that despite having glaring flaws in character (including lying) and in setting policy, on balance he is good for the world and he has been raised up by God to lead the global battle against evil and corruption i.e. to drain the swamp. The things I especially love about Trump is he asks important questions, doesn’t accept nonsense, says it as it is and does what he says. I then found myself ever since in the uncomfortable position of sticking up for him, and while I have a number of pro Trump friends, it seems there are more who are anti Trump, who in my opinion have got it wrong. But given the stakes are high and the issues are grave, I mustn’t shut up, as it would be a dereliction of duty if I did.

As I have remarked more than once, when I became a Christian the group I associated with in those early days did not think taking interest in the sort of question posed in my e-book was appropriate. I have long theologized on the matter and am now of the view it can be providing a number of principles are observed, headed by the text above. I have been brought to task more than once for sharing information that is factually incorrect but when that is pointed out I try to put right. I also realize we need to distinguish fact from opinion, and as far as we can refer to reputable sources rather than hearsay etc., notwithstanding in the end we need to make our own judgments. I realise there is a lot we don’t know and all of us have a belief system that whether we mean to or not will influence our point of view on someone like Donald Trump.

Sadly, I have come to distrust mainstream media, and even when they tell the truth it often is half the truth and about stuff that fits their narrative. While I often look to alternative media for news, I recognize they often have an agenda and are sometimes over keen to promote conspiracy theories. Ultimately, it should come down to judgement: researching the facts and then weighing them. As for how Christians respond, I am mindful of deep division, and while it is tempting to get on our truthful high horse, we need grace and humility too, including saying “I may be / was wrong” and “I don’t know”. Prayer and Bible study is important and I have even come round to the idea of the prophetic word that might help us make sense of the world, and it is a matter of deciding if that word is true.

Having explained the challenge I and others who think as I do face, I need to set out my store. It would be the easiest thing in the world to withdraw from expressing a view (in some countries doing so could be a death sentence), but it would be irresponsible for me, as would going along with the opinion of the majority, especially when as happens here the majority are wrong. When I wrote my book “Outside the Camp”, some five years ago, it was my story as a gospel preaching community activist that saw the need to start off “inside the veil” before going “outside the camp” to engage with the wider culture. While I look forward to the day when culture among much else will be redeemed with the return of Jesus, we are still called to do good and resist evil living in the world.

We are also called to “watch and pray”. A lot of my writing is as a result of my watching, but I recognize I need to pray more and pontificate less. Part of a watchman’s role is to warn and while it may not be popular it needs to happen and too few fulfill this role, and is what I seek to do, for if not me then who? While one should robustly state what is, noting when it is opinion, the quest and respect for truth is paramount as well as the importance of gaining wisdom and understanding, which are activities for a lifetime.

Afterthought: I am mindful some Christians strongly disagree with me on some of these matters, even among those I consider as doctrinally on my wavelength. Given the great hope of the Church is in the prayer Jesus prayed in John 17 “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” 20,21, it is important that we who follow Jesus don’t fall out on these matters and are united in serving and declaring Him to the world, doing good while we can. It is true that every day as I read my various news feeds I see a string of things going on in the world that I find upsetting and am desirous to put them right, knowing I can’t, other than doing my bit to serve and pray to God and live in peace with my fellow man where I can. It is tempting to look to individuals to save us and is why I wrote as I did, but the truth is that even the best and most powerful of humanity is limited in what he can do and is not always right. But the one we need to put our hope in is the Lord God Almighty, who alone can save, and will not disappoint.

Update 30/11/18: The matter of truth is rarely far from us and new examples crop up every day, e.g. the extent we rely on instinct or pure facts. The problem with the former is our instincts can be wrong and the problem with the latter is the tendency to select those facts that match already held opinions. Often when trying to come to a view, we don’t have all the facts, or they are distorted, and we have to take a view. Then when it comes to truth: is this something to be regarded as more important than love? It seems to me that the biblical model is we need both and we fall short if we focus on one and not the other. As for Trump, people are divided as to whether he upholds truth or deals in lies or is a flawed mixture. The answer is probably the latter. I suspect in the next few months we will see some startling revelations – some will back up some peoples’ negative views and some will vindicate what he has been saying and / or hinted at regarding a large cohort of bad people who have been wicked and lied about it. Yet it should be realised that the truth question should apply to every area of life, and not just issues like Brexit but in our day to day conduct in how we handle people and situations. As far as we the wider public goes, we do not have all the facts, but hope truth will win. And as for us, it is back to the text at the beginning of this article, and giving it top priority: “buy truth and do not sell it“. This should permeate our thoughts and actions, including how we react and deal with events. While we may disagree e.g. our views on Trump etc. we need to be truth exemplars.


2 thoughts on “Buying truth and making sense of it all

  1. paul fox says:

    I agree with you about the Media, they continually put down Jeremy Corbyn, who I think is an honest man, and they print as little as possible about Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza. Especially the BBC. But I dont think we will ever agree on Trump. You admit he is a serial liar.I see a man who only cares for him self, Thrives on power. If he could, would like to be a dictator. Does not trust any one, so continually sacks his staff. Is always aggressive. Puts him self first. Is a hypocrite. Ignores climate change, and supports the Gas, Coal, and Oil industries, while penalizing the sustainable industries . I could go on. I do not see how God would work through him? What other person of similar character, does God work through today ? Putin, Li Keqiang, Kim Jong-un ? For me I can see God working through, Pope Frances, Ex President Carter, Archbishop Toto, and many, many more. You can tell them by their fruits. My second point is Nationalism, as opposed to globalism .I believe Nationalization is the curse of the world. It was nationalism that was, and is the cause of most wars. It was the case with both World Wars.Brought Hitler to power. Each nation wants to make it self great, at the expense of others. Have more power than other nations.If Globalism means we see this world as one. Remember “One World Week” We cooperate with each other. When one country is in trouble, all come to its aid. With Climate Change, and the pollution of our planet, starvation, all nations have to work together. So we have the UN. I cannot see Trump wanting any part of this. We have just had Remembrance Day, especially for 1918. Have we learnt the lessons of that Day. I wonder if you saw my thoughts on this. If not here they are—

    The First world War was a terrible tragedy. 37 million people died in that war. You can .google it, as I did. I had elderly Aunts, who never married, as so many of the young men were killed This war was between nations that were Christian, and the Churches did little to stop it. Each believing that God was on their side. In fact one Christmas morning, the solders heard the other side singing carols, They came out of their trenches , swoped cigarettes,and food, and even played football. Sadly by Boxing day they were back in their trenches killing each other. At the end of the War in 1918, the Killing stopped but the hatred carried on. Again the Churches did little to stop it. A few like Bishop Bell and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, tried, but 23 years later and, the War, started again. At the end of the Second World War, some people thought we should learn to forgive each other, and get to know each other. So our Church, brought a group of German School Children here to Westcliff, for a summer holiday. The German children were poorer, thinner, and hungrier than us. Remember our food was still on rationed,you could not go down to the Supermarket, and fill up a trolley, with goodies.We had ration-books, for food and for the food and sweets had to come out of the cupboard, and cloths, out of a draw. Mum and Dad, and the children had to give up their food and cloths for their German Guests., But I am sure the children had a good time, and went home with happy memories. David Greengrass, our Minister at Westcliff Church, was in Germany, and met Trudy, then, came back to England and married here. Rev Marlaina Schwerbul. came to England with her family, and was our minister at Westcliff for more than 6 years.Twice we went to Germany, by coach to meet her family and friends, and go to her church
    The Othona Community was started in 1947, by a group of young air force men with their Padre, From the start they invited young Germans to come and stay and work and play at Bradwell. Those young Germans, became our friends, many getting married, and having children, who are bilingual. Some now live in Germany, some here in Britain, but they still keep coming back to Othona. I do not believe we will ever go to War with Germany again. We cant . They are Family.

  2. Thank you dear John, keep speaking.

    And Paul Fox- John in no way said that President Trump is a serial liar.

    When you distort John’s words in this way, you stand self condemned of misrepresenting a brother.
    Chris Moyler.

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