JI Packer has famously said “a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.” Today, we find ourselves swimming in a sea of half truths, scratching our heads and thinking “that sounds right – kinda.” In the end, the Father of Lies is just as happy when we swallow a half truth as he is when we fall for any other kind of deception.
Tim Keller, in his book How To Reach The West Again lists a handful of the secular narratives that have become mantras for some in our contemporary culture. See if you’ve heard any of these recently.
The cultural narrative when it comes to our identity, Keller says, is “you need to be true to yourself.” It sounds noble, and there is a kernel of truth there, right? But the question for any of us is “how do we discover who we really are so we know what to be true to?
The cultural answer is to look inside. You know who you really are. What you feel deeply is your true self. Be true to that.
But the Bible says we need to take our thoughts (and our feelings) captive to God’s Word. Our hearts can deceive us. God’s word is a more reliable source of what’s true about you than how you see yourself. Be true to yourself, yes. But let God’s Word be your source when it comes to understanding who you are.
Here’s another cultural message: “You should be free to live as you choose, as long as you don’t hurt anyone.” But once again, the Bible has to inform us when it comes to freedom. Jesus said that everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin (John 8:34). We’re not free to live as we choose. We are in bondage to our passions, our desires and the “pleasures that wage war in our members” (James 4:1).
Part of being true to ourselves, we’re told in our culture is that “we must do whatever makes us the happiest. We should not sacrifice our own happiness for anyone else.” The Bible says that joy is found in giving up our lives for others. “Do nothing from selfishness,” we’re told, “but regard one another as more important than yourself” (Philippians 2:3).
In our day, we are told “we can only solve our problems through objective science and facts.” Science is a wonderful tool for progress and human advancement. Facts and data matter. But if we’ve learned anything in the midst of the current pandemic, it’s that science doesn’t have all the answers. What was presented as a scientific fact two months ago is now outdated. We have new information. That’s to be expected. Science has always evolved as we learn more about our world and about ourselves. Jesus said it’s truth, not science or facts, that sets us free (John 8:31).
“Everyone has the right to decide what is right and wrong for themselves,” we’re often told. This view of mortality has become less potent in our current cancel culture, but the underlying idea that morality is a personal choice is still imbedded in much of our thinking. The book of Judges describes a time in Israel’s history when “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). It was not a happy time for God’s people.
For centuries now, voices in our culture have been telling us that “history is bending toward social progress and away from religion.” The reality is that everywhere the gospel is excluded, people suffer. And where the gospel takes root, social progress follows. Sometimes slowly and painfully. But always forward. Jesus Himself said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church.
Tim Keller points out that these secular narratives are fragmenting our culture. This fracturing, he says is “one of the bitter fruits of the secular project, the first effort in history to build cohesive societies without a common set of shared moral and religious values.”
“While each of these cultural messages is partly true (and indeed, despite distortions, rooted historically in Christian teaching), they are all theologically mistaken and pragmatically harmful to human life… We need a counter-catechism that explains, refutes, and re-narrates the world’s catechisms to Christians.”
My friend and fellow pastor Michael Easley likes to say “Don’t let the culture teach you theology.” He’s right. The antidote to the cultural confusion here is to renew your mind with the truth of God’s Word, so you’re ready to spot the half truths when you hear them.
RCC MEMBERSHIP CLASS – 9.19.20
Even in the midst of COVID-19, we’ve a number of you who have been asking about when our next church membership class will happen. Well, we’ve set the date. On Saturday, September 19 from 9:00 am until noon, we’ll host our next class, either in the RCC Family Room or in our Worship Center, depending on how many of you sign up.
There is some reading we ask everyone to do in advance of the September 19 get together. Email Pastor Matt and he’ll get you what you need so you can be prepared. Mattgurney77@gmail.com
Jesus tells us that anyone who believes in Him will have rivers of living water flowing from within. What does He mean? We’ll look carefully this Sunday morning at Jesus’ invitation to “come and drink.”
See you (in person or on line) Sunday!
Soli Deo Gloria!