Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. John 18:37
Have you ever been to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Neither have I, but the name is intriguing. According to a write up, it has a population of around 6,500 people, and there are 12,034 reviews of things to do and places to visit or eat on Trip Advisor. Who knew?
The name of the town fits well with my theme: there are consequences when one doesn’t believe in truth. Laura and Michael McAfee devote an entire chapter to this topic in their book Not What You Think. The chapter is entitled “Our Problem With Truth”.
It is worth reading because it explains many things in a fresh way. I have touched on this topic frequently: most millennials make decisions based on emotion and crowd-think (i.e. what others think, usually from social media).
The McAfees start with the crowd-sourcing notion – millennials put more stock in what their peers think than from traditional “experts” from institutions. Some have labeled this “Groupthink “.
We live in a post-Christian era. It is now described as “post-truth” which was the word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016. Post-truth is defined as where “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in the shaping of public opinion than appeals to emotion or personal belief.”
Or, in the words of a professor, “objective truth is unknowable”. It ultimately comes down to your own interpretation and what you think. Wow!
Let’s think about that for a second. If my sense of right and wrong is my truth, and your sense of right and wrong is your truth, what happens when you drive and decide that motor vehicle laws are wrong so you can be reckless without impunity.
Society breaks down when everyone’s interpretation of right and wrong starts colliding with each other (literally). It leads to confusion. McAfees believe there is a need for truth, although there is dissatisfaction “with modern secular substitutes for truth” by millennials.
C.S. Lewis said it this way: “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.” I would hope that having near death experiences is not needed for most millennials.
The authors think even the most skeptical millennials are really is searching for truth. Millennials “hunger for an answer and desire to find something valuable that we can believe in and trust.”
That said, millennials are fleeing the church. They are seeking ways to find truth that are new and non-traditional.
In a way, even I succumb to crowd-sourcing. When selecting places to eat or visit on a trip, I look at reviews posted on TripAdvisor or Yelp. They are instructive on the simple decision of where to eat. But millennials do this for larger life choices “such as whether to believe in God and what values and morals to live by.”
There is a common world view among millennials which shapes and undergirds their lives. It has a name – moralistic therapeutic deism– or the view that “God is distant and wants us to be good people so we that we feel good about ourselves.”
For moralistic views, millennials believe that life is best lived by being a good, moral person. That often means being nice, kind, respectful or tolerant of others. It also means self-improvement and trying one’s best to be successful. This is what the McAfees call a “do no harm” principle. It is “essentially personal and isolated.”
“Therapeutic” is really a feeling of “feeling good, happy, secure and at peace”. Confrontation is to be avoided at all cost. The result is tolerance. Yet Christianity often results in confrontation – first with oneself and then with others.
That being said, millennials are often on a quest that leads them to dissatisfaction, not happiness, according to most research.
The millennials concept of deism acknowledges the existence of God, but it is a God that is not demanding. His job, according to their thinking, is to solve their problems and make them feel good. He is always on the job but is distant and does “not become personally involved” in their lives.
It is no wonder that we are facing dire consequences to the lack of belief in truth.
The challenge here is that the millennial worldview has been distorted by crowd-sourcing and group-think. That’s the bad news. The good news: despite their reliance on each other for decisions, they remain unsatisfied with the results. They are searching for truth in all of the wrong places and they are finding “no comfort in the crowd.”
MENTOR TAKEWAY: You can help a millennial mentee who struggles with truth. It is a valuable investment of your time.
FURTHER READING: Not What You Think– Available from Amazon
WORSHIP: Listen Love Comes Down by North Point
MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.
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