“What is Truth?”

Posted by on 10 Jan 2013 in Pastor | 1 comment

My son and daughter-in-law gave me a couple of neat things for Christmas… one was a plectrum punch, so I can make guitar plectrums (picks) out of waste plastic like old credit cards. The other was a book, “The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures” by Louis Theroux. The book describes Theroux’s tour of the US as he tries to revisit some of the rather strange people he’d met while making a TV series 5 years earlier. He would, of course, have to go to America for that, because there are no eccentric or deluded people here in the UK.

Anyway: in the final chapter he tries to make some generalisations about the cult members, the white supremacists, the gangsta rappers, the followers of get-rich-quick charlatans and the Christians who ‘know’ when the end of the world is coming. In a sense it’s in these last few pages that the book becomes more than just a freak show. Here’s the key quote, which itself begins with a quotation… Louis Theroux writes….

“’Have you ever argued with a member of the Flat Earth Society?” a self-help guru named Ross Jeffries once asked me. ‘It’s completely futile, because fundamentally they don’t care if something is true or false. To them, the measure of truth is how it makes them feel.  If telling the truth makes them feel important, then it’s true. If telling the truth makes them feel ashamed and small, then it’s false.’ My experience on this trip has borne this out. On the list of qualities necessary to humans trying to make our way through life, truth scores fairly low. Why do people believe and do weird things? Because in the end, feeling alive is more important to telling the truth…. We are instruments for feeling, faith, energy, emotion, significance, belief, but not really truth…. The world is a stage we walk upon. We are all, in a way, fictional characters who write ourselves with our beliefs.”

This certainly helped me understand a couple of people I’ve known who are highly vocal fans of a succession of the more “twilight zone” Christian writers and broadcasters. These fans don’t so much care if the teachings are true, so long as it gives them something to talk about and so feel important. If the teachings or the broadcasters are discredited (Jesus failing to come back as predicted, financial scandal, etc etc) then it won’t matter because by then the fan will have moved on to some other guru. There will always be plenty to choose from, because these days you can become one with only (a) a twenty-quid video camera (b) a YouTube account, and (c) too much time on your hands.

But such folks are easy targets.

Am I talking about truth, holding onto Christian teaching, and indeed making a living out of it, because I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and that when we know the truth it sets us free? And even if I do… am I coming across like a member of the Flat Earth Society?

People need the truth about Jesus to avoid a nightmare eternity, but how can we present that if they really only care about what makes them feel alive, rejecting as false what makes them feel ashamed and small? Does telling the truth about Jesus ever make us feel ashamed and small? Do WE look like we feel alive?

 

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I promise to blog more often this year, and to check for replies / responses…. honest. Trust me, I’m a minister. By the way, I’m short of plectrums; have you got a credit card handy?

One Comment

  1. That sums up folk I talk to, too Andrew. Last week an atheistic golfing companion told be he had proof that there was no life beyond this one, because, when he had a blackout whilst driving and ended up unconscious in the middle of a round about, he didn’t meet God or have any supernatural experience. I just said, “But you didn’t die!” and he had now’t else to say. How easy it is to be totally certain my view of life is as perfect as I am provided I ignore the evidence.

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