Have you ever been to court and been asked for your testimony? Before you speak, you place your hand on a Bible (in most cases) and swear to ‘tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’ For years in the Western court system, the Bible was seen as a standard, a book of absolutes to which the court would measure the truthfulness of the testimony about to be entered.
In a post-modern world, we’ve reached a point where the Oxford Dictionary selected ‘post-truth’ as its word of the year for 2016. The definition they provide is a huge indictment on our world – “an adjective defined as ‘relating to our denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” They trace the spike in frequency this past year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States. They cite the frequent use of the term in major publications ‘without the need for clarification or definition in their headlines.’
We’re certainly witnessing more clash between the absolutes of Scripture and the non-absolutes of a Western culture that has lost its way. The battle grounds are multiplying in many sectors and Christ followers need the mercy of God to keep them from, as J.B. Phillips notes in his paraphrase of Romans 12:2, ‘allowing the world to pour us into its mould.’
In 2 Timothy 3, Paul cites the progressive shift in values, which Timothy would witness in the ‘last days.’ The term ‘last days’ is used in the New Testament as describing the period of time between Christ’s first and second coming. Consider Hebrews 1:2 “…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” or 1 John 2:18 “Dear children, this is the last hour;….This is how we know it is the last hour.” To apply this simple to a yet future time slot is to ignore the clear sense of these and other verses.
As one reads through 2 Timothy 3, the list of descriptions of godlessness, though written to describe the first century, seemed remarkably current, a perfect portrait of today’s ‘post-truth’ culture. I’ll list Paul’s assessment and seek to interpret and apply them in the coming posts in this blog.
“But mark this: There were will be terrible times in the last days. People will be
lovers of themselves,
lovers of money,
disobedient to their parents,
not lovers of the good,
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
-having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Sounds up-to-date, doesn’t it?