(Posted in July of 2020)
My thoughts below predate COVID-19, masks, hydroxychloroquine, or churches defying public health emergency orders. Last fall, different controversies were exposing problems in how believers evaluate conflicting claims and decide what to believe.
But those problems are still with us, and the current raft of controversies is exposing them even more painfully.
Many Christians who claim to revere the Bible lack biblical habits for evaluating truth claims and consequently lack skill in judging the ethics of situations in a biblical way. It seems almost ubiquitous now—the habit of putting the political/culture-war lenses on first, and embracing or rejecting claims based solely on source classification (friend or foe). The result is that ideas are accepted uncritically if they’re perceived to be from “our people” and rejected reflexively if they’re seen as from “the other side.”
What’s missing is weighing ideas and claims on their own merits—on things like evidence and sound reasoning. Increasingly, what’s completely missing is any nonpolitical consideration of what Scripture teaches and what sound application requires of us.
More than ever, believers need to meditate on a genuinely Christian view of truth and on a genuinely Christian approach to evaluating truth claims. At least five principles are are fundamental that effort.
"The root problem with critical theory is not how the American story is told, but in pre-empting any critique or debate. That sort of thinking cannot be successfully countered by emulating it. The only way to fight bad ideas is with better ones." - Breakpoint
"In his recently-released book, Faithful Presence: The Promise and the Peril of Faith in the Public Square, Haslam draws upon his years of experience to highlight the redemptive role of faith in politics while offering biblical insight into the hot-button issues of today." - C.Post
"It’s using one standard for LeBron and another for Trump. It’s accusing the one and excusing the other. It’s saying, 'Someone with as much influence as LeBron needs to be more responsible,' while at the same time claiming, 'Yes, Trump was the most powerful man on the planet, but he was just venting.'" - Michael Brown
"If I had to summarize the last four years in a single phrase, it would be simple—it’s been a time of testing. This time of testing has broken us and divided us. It’s divided us between those who are honest and those who lie, the cruel and the kind, the principled and the hypocrites, between the courageous and the cowardly.... this is not a matter of left and right—or of Trump and anti-Trump." - David French
One of the most frustrating aspects of the recent civil unrest in America for me, has been trying to figure out what people mean by what they say. Am I at fault for failing to understand the plain meaning of simple words, or are the words themselves intended to obscure the real intentions of the speaker?
I am beginning to suspect it’s the latter. It seems that words are being used in a manner intended to hide, not reveal what the speaker actually means.
Consider the catchy slogan, “Defund the police.” What does that mean? It sounds like the abolishment of police departments by eliminating their funding. If money for salaries, training, headquarters, equipment and vehicles is withdrawn, there will no longer be any police. Am I wrong for thinking that’s what “defund the police” means? But no, several prominent politicians have assured us that “defund the police” doesn’t mean get rid of the police, even if that’s what it sounds like. It really means reduce some fraction of present funding by shifting it to other purposes such as social work or reduction of poverty.
Well, that’s reassuring. At least we should be able to have an honest conversation about whether police officers could be more effective if they were not expected to deal with social problems. Still, one wonders exactly what that means as well. How can the police know if a call for help involves social problems before they respond to the call? I’m not sure I understand exactly how this is supposed to work.