Skip to content

Month: January 2023

When death still stings

In the TV series 1883, the final episode shows Elsa Dutton, slowly dying from an arrow to the liver, lying in her father’s arms under a tree. Watching a jack rabbit carelessless munching on grass, she asks: “What is death? What is this thing we all share? Rabbits. Birds. Horses. Trees. Everyone I love. And everyone who loves me. Even stars die. And we know absolutely nothing of it.”

For some reason, that episode haunts me.

For much of my life, I have been relatively sheltered from death. Going to funerals sums up the vast majority of my experience. But in the last two years, I have had to look death in the face.

During COVID it happened twice. In the fall of 2020, my dad died of general age-related issues; he was 81. And two months later, my sister succumbed to sepsis. She was 56—the age I am now. read more

1 Comment

Following Jesus in a wild world of relativism

I often look at the world around me with bewilderment and wonder whether I the one missing something.

Am I just not getting it?

Surely, I can’t be the only one connecting the dots between the current reality and insanity.

I don’t claim I am the only sane person in the world. I just have trouble understanding it.

And that has occasionally boiled over into frustration.

Recently a major paradigm shift has increased exponentially with each passing year. Symptoms include inconsistency, slippery definitions, construction of truth narratives filled with blatant yet unrecognized contradictions, and lack of self-awareness. This shift is happening institutionally, culturally, and even individually.

It’s everywhere.

Before the 118th Congress met, news broke that Republican Congressman-elect George Santos of New York had lied about pretty much everything on his resume: his ancestry, education, employment, charity work, etc.

His response: “This will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”[1]

How will he be good—when he is an outright liar? In a courtroom, when a person gets caught in a lie, everything he or she says before and after loses all credibility. Why hasn’t this guy bowed out?

Several years ago, around the 2016 election, I talked with a Trump supporter who knowingly passed on articles and posts that were either suspect, or totally made up. When I questioned this, he shrugged. It didn’t matter what was true. It only mattered that Trump got elected.

The other side (one famous past example was then-senator Harry Reid) also has been caught doing exactly the same thing.

In 2022, the United States’ economy entered into a recession based on the definition of the word used by Democrats and Republicans, journalists and economists, as well as the most in the business communities for nearly 50 years.[2]

Yet suddenly the administration — widely blamed for causing it — changed the definition. Thus, apparently, the financial struggle of many Americans is all in our heads.

Last year, the president himself claimed gas was five dollars a gallon when he took office, apparently to take credit for bringing it “down” to $3.39 at that time.

But in truth, gas documentably averaged $2.39 per gallon the day he took office, and its skyrocket to over $5 per gallon was clearly after he had been at the helm for a full eighteen months. [3]

What is incredibly disturbing is “fact-checkers,” self-proclaimed gatekeepers of facts, are nothing more than partisan stooges. In several cases, Snopes, a long-time legitimate source for rebuffing urban legends and conspiracy theories, fact-checked many articles from the Babylon Bee, a satirical site that actually makes no effort to hide it..

A “fact-check” page fact-checking a satire site whose motto is “Fake News You Can Trust”?

And we’re suddenly confronted with, out of nowhere, dozens of new genders, each with new made-up pronouns.

To question this makes you the bad guy.

My favorite example of a world gone mad was when journalists, who for years defended the “moderation” of conservatives on Twitter, screamed “fascism” when Elon Musk bought Twitter and in turn started moderating them.

It made me wonder how they somehow could not see the irony.

Every new day seems to outdo the previous ones.

However, I honestly don’t think the world has simply gone insane or that the inmates are running the asylum.

It has more to do with the dominant worldview that has settled into the majority of the country: relativism.

This reality is what you get when every individual believes he or she has the authority to construct their own reality, their own truth.

Relative, the root word of relativism, is, relatively speaking, a harmless word. It means in relation to or in proportion to some else. If I tell a group to think of a “red vehicle,” all will imagine something different. Some might describe a red Ferrari. Others might think of a red ’69 Camaro. Others a red truck.

Further, each person might see a different shade of red: fire engine red, dark red, etc.

The definition each person comes up with when thinking of a “red vehicle” imagines it in relation to their own interests, culture, and preferences.

There is nothing wrong with that. Unless you apply it to everything and take it to its extreme: total relativism.

Relativism is a philosophy in which knowledge, truth, and morality are constructed in relation to culture or a particular context (geographical, historical, etc.). Truth is constructed according to these things.

And since truth and knowledge are constructed, the relativists believe neither can be absolute. Facts are not necessarily facts, and truth is simply created in a group, tribe, or mind.

Therefore, if I wanted to be a different gender or species, that is my truth, and no one can tell me otherwise.

Further, relativism is not about seeking that which is true; it is about constructing the narrative. It holds that all truth is created, so I can create any narrative I desire.

Thus, I am not accountable to an absolute truth which transcends all cultures and historical contexts.

This is now the dominant worldview in the United States.

And it is why nothing makes sense.

It is not enough for the Christ-follower to shake their heads in disgust (which admittedly I tend to do) or lament days gone by.

We must keep in mind that God is not surprised by America’s current condition. When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God knew this would be the result.

And so did the crafty serpent.

To Eve, the serpent said: “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). In other words: you will be like God. You get to personally define (construct) what is good and evil.

When humans get to decide good and evil, right and wrong, and even truth itself, you have the mess of relativism.

Yet this is the world the Christ-follower is called to reach.

Christians often try to combat relativism with reason and rational arguments. But this, frankly, seldom works. People who build their own reality couldn’t care less if they are contradicting themselves.

Relativism is full of contradictions. For example, if a woman says there is no such thing as absolute truth, she often has zero awareness that her statement is an absolute statement in and of itself.

Further, I could tell another that my personal truth says it is justified for me to steal. I am pretty sure he would protest if I went for his wallet.

But he would not connect the dots.

Satan’s temptation to be your own god and creating your own definition of good and evil is just too exciting to worry about any contradictions.

But we absolutely have to remember that Jesus died for relativists too. When on the cross he prayed, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” he was praying it for them as well as me.

So how does a follower of Jesus live and function in this world that we’re also commanded to reach?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).

Our job is to be Jesus to the world around us. We are to go to the scripture itself not to learn how to make the perfect rational argument against relativism (or other worldviews) but to teach ourselves how Jesus specifically interacted with the lost.

What does it mean to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Matthew 22:39)?

How do I live the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) in responding to the relativist society?

What is my answer to the question “who is my neighbor” (Luke 10:25-37)?

How do I speak the truth of Jesus Christ to a lost world with love lest I come across as an obnoxiously clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1-2)?

How can I help others by being salt that is tasty, not bitter, or a light that is guiding not blinding? (Matthew 5:13)?

These are tough questions that every Christ-follower must meditate on and pray about. This is how we navigate our respective roles in the Great Commission.

Make no mistake, we live in a relativist, post-Christian culture. That will not change. Christianity is now marginalized. For speaking truth, we’re considered crazy.. Gene Veith in his book Post-Christian wrote: “Those who would impose their morality on those who do not share it, those who demand conformity, and those who punish the dissenters are now the militant secularists. Christians are not used to being considered ‘the wicked.’ But we should probably get used to it.”

We must be sure of our priorities in the Kingdom worldview.

Fighting and beating the relativist culture isn’t our end game.

Making disciples in a relativist society is.

[1] https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-york-rep-elect-george-santos-confesses-lies-about-his-resume

[2] https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/what-is-a-recession/

[3] https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/biden-falsely-says-the-price-of-gas-was-more-than-dollar5-when-he-took-office/ar-AA13sEx4

Leave a Comment