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Truth seems up for grabs in our confused culture.
 
It is possible to speak truth in a nasty way or for improper motives, which is why Scripture reminds us to speak the truth in love.
 
God is the ultimate source of truth. Actually, he is truth, so he defines reality and he never said, "Don’t speak the truth." So, speaking truth is not an act of hate, as incredibly some now claim.
 
It may seem harsh, for example, to call something error, wrong, sin, but if true, it creates an opportunity for change, correction, forgiveness, redemption > hope.
 
Without truth, there is no hope.
 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    


A 2:23 min video I recently recorded with Manna Media, thinking about our culture's battle against the idea of truth...and now the consequences. I've lived this experience in "my day." Still am. Some of you have lived it too and will recognize the trends.

Scripture says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31, NIV).



© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019

*This video may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.

Since at least Dr. Francis A Schaeffer’s work and others in the 1970s, philosophers have warned us about moral relativism, the idea there is no right or wrong.  This view sounded good to a culture that wished to throw off all restraints, especially sexual.  

But now into the 21stCentury we’re plagued by division, crudeness, lack of integrity and character in “leadership,” declining free speech, pornography, narcotics, racism, sexual harassment or assault, random shootings, alienation from not just politics but from the country itself (Celebrities vie for news saying they want to move to Canada), rancor and the new “hater” phenomenon...the list goes on.

None of this is a surprise.  An emerging social dystopia is a direct result of a people deciding there’s no difference between right vs wrong and though many still say they believe in God most do not see how this is relevant to their everyday lives.  We’re now grasping at any belief, even entirely irrational ones like an inability to define man vs woman, or politicians voting not to protect born-alive babies. 

We’ve lost what scholars call our “sacred canopy,” which until the 1960s was a “Judeo-Christian consensus” about how society could operate freely and justly.  Now we have a mishmash secularism and weak religion, but what we need is a revival of the idea of objective truth, and individual responsibility and accountability.  Without this renewal of belief in truth, our mooring, centrifugal forces in our culture will continue to spin toward irrationality.

This is not an encouraging prognosis. Yet God is still there.  He is still the definition of Truth, Love, Mercy, Justice.  

Revival does not begin with the non-churched, “…judgment begins with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17). Speaking truth to culture begins with us, the individual Christian believer and the Church.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attributionstatement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events atwww.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with meat www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

 

Contemporary culture seems bent upon finding ways to embrace, even promote, ideas, attitudes, values, and practices earlier cultures considered lacking in common sense. Indeed in much of this it seems contemporary culture is, in sum, a celebration of irrationality.

Some of these relatively recently embraced ways of life (culture) are irreverent, some are immoral, and some at one time were illegal. I say recently embraced, but there are really no new practices under the sun, just old ones recycled (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Of course, what you call irreverent, immoral, or illegal depends upon your point of view, which in turn depends upon your worldview. What you believe about God, life, and truth influences what ideas, attitudes, values, and practices you embrace as legitimate. This is a prime reason contemporary culture celebrates irrationality. It does so because the current cultural zeitgeist, or spirit of the age, has jettisoned the idea of moral absolutes in favor of a new, ironically, "absolute" called moral relativism.

The existence of ultimate truth is rejected. And the existence of clearly knowable, objectively established truth is rejected. In their place contemporary culture enshrines “There is no truth” or “What’s true for you may not be true for me,” so people believe and do whatever they want. Consequently, since we can know nothing for sure, we cannot believe anything for sure. If we can know nothing and can believe nothing for sure, what we believe, and therefore what we do, doesn’t matter, at least not to anyone but us.

A culture that does not believe in objective truth, i.e. objectivity, is vulnerable, nay, is wide open, to subjective "truth," i.e. subjectivity. In other words, if we don’t believe truth is determined outside of us than it must be OK to determine it within us. We do what’s right in our own eyes.

This approach to what’s right pretty much lets us determine what to do based upon personal experience, not based upon the Bible, the Church, religion, or even history. So if we want to get an abortion, why not? If we want to say heterosexual expression outside marriage or homosexual expression is morally acceptable, why not? If we want to believe life began by chance and that human beings are descended from apes, why not? If we want to spend not only beyond our means but spend other peoples’ means (our children and grandchildren), why not? There’s no piper to be paid, no reckoning. It’s all just going to work out…somehow.

To state what should be obvious, celebrating irrationality is not rational. Our culture cannot sustain itself indefinitely with this kind of pell-mell rush to senselessness. Yet lemming-like, we keep running toward the cliff.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

“Check the facts” is a piece of advice that fits a lot of situations. Early in my teaching career I learned to check the facts when a student, in college as well as in the grades, told me thus or so was happening. Early in my administrative career I learned again: check the facts before making an administrative decision or before going public with information given to me.

“Check the facts” is also good advice for much of the American public who do not read. And it’s a doubly worthy insight for those who merely glance at titles.

I’ve posted many blogs on my website and later to Facebook, and I’ve written a lot of columns and articles, printed and/or posted later for public access. On several occasions I’ve experienced negative response, which is to say criticism, about what people think I said. In other words, they quickly read the title, misinterpreted it or otherwise made assumptions, and then let ‘er rip. But their criticism made it clear they’d never read my actual content. They’d never checked the facts.

“Check the facts” is an especially important M.O. if you think you must critique or correct another person. Even more it’s critical if you intend to impugn their character. Better be careful. Check the facts.

We’re glad for a legal system built upon the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” We’re even more grateful if we’re the one accused. Why? Because if indeed we are innocent, we most certainly want authorities to take time to check the facts.

Remember ol’ Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) on the black and white TV program called “Dragnet”? “All we want are the facts, Ma’am.”

Check the facts. You’ll be better off no matter what you do next.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

“How much fiction can a nonfiction book contain before it must be re-classified as fiction?” That’s the question of the month that’s raising eyebrows far beyond publishing industry.

James Frey’s book, A Million Little Pieces (2003), a drug-addiction novel-turned-memoir, sold more copies in 2005 than any other book except J.K. Rowling’s latest tome in the “Harry Potter” series. Everything was going swimmingly for Frey, including an October 26, 2005 appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and Oprah’s selection of the book for Oprah’s Book Club, which resulted in some 2 million book sales (3.5 million total to date) and counting just from Oprah’s fans.

Then the website, The Smoking Gun, outed the book’s numerous fabrications built into the supposedly true, gut wrenching story of addiction rehabilitation. Frey and his publisher, Doubleday, have been doing damage control since including an appearance (with his Mother sitting at his side) on “Larry King Live” January 11, 2006 during which Oprah literally placed a last minute call blessing the book’s “underlying message of redemption” and saying the book, “still resonates with me.” Later she added, “To me, it seems to be much ado about nothing.”

Frey has refused to respond directly to The Smoking Gun’s allegations and has threatened the site with a lawsuit. Larry King zoned in and Frey responded to accusations of falsehood by bizarrely admitting to 18 pages of “embellishments,” which he said represented “less than 5 percent of the total book.” For Frey, “The important aspect of the memoir is getting at the essential truth.”

So now instead of Truth we have “essential truth,” which is a bit like Al Gore’s “no controlling legal authority” or Bill Clinton’s “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.” Clinton still owns the Baby Boomer Fabricator-in-Chief title with his finger-pointing “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” But Frey is introducing his generation’s definition of truth, which is to say, “essential truth.”

Neither Frey nor Doubleday much care about the hoopla, for it simply sells more books. And Oprah thinks its much ado about nothing. But shouldn’t the rest of us care? If nonfiction is fiction aren’t we left with Orwellian double-speak offering no certainty and eventually no hope. Former New York Times reporter Jason Blair lost his job for fabricating stories. Why is what Frey did any different?

Frey’s book was first conceived as a bloody, graphic novel, which was, according to Frey, rejected by a dozen publishers. When his agent then suggested Frey call the book a memoir it sold and sold big. Memoir is a form of the word “memory,” and everyone’s memory grows dim with time. But “memoir” also means “one’s personal experiences,” which is to say that the author tripping down memory lane is remembering, however dimly, actual events, times, places, and people---not fantasy.

Politicians are often accused of “spinning” the truth, which may mean putting one’s best foot forward (actual occurrences) or it may mean stretching the truth (which is a form of not telling “nothing but the truth” and, therefore, a lie).

Christians are guilty too. For years I have disliked the phrase “evangelistically speaking,” which is used as a generally kind but sometimes biting comment about a preacher’s tendency to exaggerate his statistics. I’ve never liked even the kindly use of the phrase for it seemed to indicate the preacher was either an uninformed boob who could not get his facts straight, an avid spinner creating a fuzzy impression, or an outright liar. None of these images seemed very preacherly to me.

Lying began in the Garden of Eden. As part of Adam’s race, we’ve all lied at some point if not multiple points in our lives. But this condition of the human race does not make lying acceptable, whether its called prevarication, fabrication, spinning, equivocation, hedging, evangelistically speaking, dissembling, pulling the wool over his eyes, fibbing, “truthiness” as has been cited on comedy channels, or lying.

The concept of “essential truth” fits neatly within moral relativism-the idea that there is no such thing as absolute, for-sure, for-certain, “true even if you don’t believe it” truth-which is one of the defining characteristics of postmodern culture. Francis A. Schaeffer coined the phrase “True truth” a long time ago, just to convey the reality of divinely given ultimate, objective truth. Truth is, whether James Frey, Oprah, Bill Clinton, Jason Blair, you or I own it or not.

No one ever said nonfiction can have no fiction within it, just that respect for God, truth, one’s own integrity, the writer’s craft, and the reading public demands the fiction be identified. I’m glad Frey is no longer addicted to drugs. Let’s hope he can break his addiction to falsehoods. Even more, let’s hope the publishing industry rediscovers the definition of fiction and nonfiction.

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.