As the year draws to a close, the Oxford English Dictionary continues its long standing tradition of rewarding the “Word of the Year” award to the word that best captures the ethos and mood of a particular year. The word that won this year is “post-truth.” It is defined by the Oxford dictionary as, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
The word was popularized in the wake of the Presidential election and the “Brexit” referendum. Political commentators were befuddled as to why objective reasoning and facts seemed to make no difference in the polls. The prefix “post” has taken on a new meaning in recent years, it has gone from simply referring to “the time after a specified situation” to meaning “belonging to a time when a specific concept becomes unimportant or irrelevant.” Thus, post-truth indicates a time in which objective truth is no longer important or relevant.
What an interesting time to live as a Christian, when our Christian convictions state there is an objective truth. His name is Jesus, and nobody can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6, paraphrased). Trends of society have always been tracking a subjective, postmodern worldview, but the events of 2016 have fully exposed the substantive nature of this cultural shift. The Church will continue to minister in an arena where the objective truth can no longer be the foundation of an argument. But does that mean the Church in the western world is without hope?
By no means! We live in an age where personal relationship and personal experience has never been more powerful! A truth like, “God loves you” is both objective and emotionally charged, and will appeal to a millennial generation that desires community. The phrase “actions speak louder than words” has never been more relevant. People will know they are loved by God when they see His Church loving them.
Let us not live in fear of a “post-truth” reality, but see it as an opportunity to engage culture in ways that personalizes the message of God’s love for them!