Post-Truth

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Post-truth is defined as a situation “in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” In other words, objectivity, reality, or facts don’t matter. 

Bingo. That’s where we are today. But it’s not new, and we have been living in an era where propaganda and disinformation are constantly being used to sway public opinion.

Disinformation includes blocking contrary stories or ideas. Propaganda, long a tool of totalitarian regimes, means information (especially biased or misleading) which omits salient facts in order to promote a point of view. 

That’s where social media comes in where they have intentionally silenced conservative voices by shadow banning, blocking or even suspending accounts under the pretext that it is “misinformation”.  

The fourth largest newspaper in the United States ran a story about the Great Barrington Declaration, which was created by three outstanding epidemiologists. Its twitter account was then suspended for several weeks, and the story was shadow banned on Google. Shadow banning is a way that Google uses to bury in the search results where no one will ever see it. 

Studies have long shown that the next generation make decisions mostly based on emotions, not facts or circumstances. Add to that the fact that, by and large, they don’t read. If they see something on social media or media in general, they rarely get past the headline. 

The next generation also does “crowdsourcing” to help them make decisions. An “expert” has “shifted from someone with professional or academic credentials to potentially anyone with firsthand experience” according to Michael McAfee in It’s Not What You ThinkThey have shifted from objective sources of truth to a form of crowdsourcing of truth.

Crowdsourcing may be fine for consumer purchases, but it has its limits. How can they know that the consensus approach is actually true or helpful in areas such as life choices? What if the consensus goes against their opinion or is harmful?  Without a Christian worldview, how can they make sound decisions about God, morals, or life?

In the aftermath of the presidential elections, we see two narratives which are quite contradictory.  Both cannot be true. Earlier this week in the New York Times, the headline on the first page said there was “No Evidence of fraud” in the elections. It was based on “calls to offices of the top election officials”. 

Yet, other news sources have identified thousands of people that have somehow risen from the dead and voted in their resurrected bodies. I am not sure what fraud looks like, but having dead people vote seems suspicious to me. 

My friend, Steve Noble, suggested that we are now in a Tower of Babel world. There is a divide where there are two sides, and neither of them can understand the other. On the one side, there are people who want truth to prevail, even if it means losing an election. 

On the other side, there are those who hide their true motives (which is power at any cost) and are willing to repeat the same story narrative, hoping that if it is repeated often enough it will be accepted as correct, even if it is factually wrong.   That’s where we are.  

Reminds me of the school ground arguments where finger pointing and shouting “I am right!” to a youth who says “No, you’re not!”.  There’s no debate. No discussion. No facts. Just emotional outbursts. 

In a post truth-world, where the media, large corporations and tech companies are complicit, there is a real danger to our freedoms, particularly the freedom of speech “guaranteed” by the Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech and truth are now on the chopping block, or to use the French revolution model, headed for the guillotine. 

As Christians, we know that there is real truth. There is a God and Jesus was real. He was not a fiction.  The progressives would prefer you kept your religion to yourself.  If you dare speak out by asserting your rights in the workplace, you can end up in court, just as a Christian baker did for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage. 

Twenty-five years ago, I predicted that the “price” of being a Christian in the 21st century was going up.  I don’t mean to say that I was prescient, but I could see trends where Christianity was being increasingly marginalized – both in government and the public square. 

Our next generation has been brought up in a post-modern, post-Christian and post-truth environment. That’s a lot of “posts” to overcome, for sure. In most cases, they are still willing to develop mentoring relationships – one on one – with people who have more life experiences than they do. 

Being a mentor is one way to combat the “posts”, and, at some level, introduce a reality based on truth, not emotional appeal or crowdsourcing.  I have been writing this blog for six years now, and I can honestly say that mentors are needed more than ever by a generation which is in search of truth but haven’t gotten it from their social media or friends. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Your willingness to invest in the next generation as a mentor has never been more valuable in a post-truth world.

FURTHER READING:  It’s Not What You Think – McAfee

What Does It Mean to Live in a Post-Truth World – Peterson

Saving Truth: Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post Truth World – Murray

WORSHIP: Trust in Jesus – Third Day

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Politics

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

I woke up this morning thinking all of the election bruhaha would be over. Nope.  There will be a delay in calling winners and losers of various races around the country.  Lawsuits abound as to election fraud in several states. Seven Milwaukee, WI, wards reported more presidential votes than registered voters. 

In the 1950’s, Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, famously said:  “Vote early and vote often.” The quote may have actually come from Al Capone, a famous gangster.  Still, it is a cynical phrase that may apply today. 

I did a political science research paper in college which looked at how voters chose their candidates. I found that in the presidential elections, candidates weren’t chosen by voters for their policies, but for their appearance, personality and appeal. In other words, personality (whether perceived or real) was more important to voters than what each candidate stood for.

As a consequence, political campaigns were all about making a candidate look “likeable” and trustworthy.  People voted on their impressions, not on substance nor political platforms or policies.

Fast forward into the 21st Century. While appearance and likeability are a factor, in this last election the choices were stark in terms of policies and ideologies. I watched a video by Gary Hamrick’s sermon where he treads on difficult issues of politics and the church. He does a similar sermon every four years prior to a presidential election.  

His premise is that if he was to vote for a candidate based on personality, he would vote one way. But he made the point that over the centuries, most people never cared about a king’s personality – they cared about what he did with his power. 

Gary continued with his analysis of the current election based on policies, not on candidates, from a biblical worldview.  His video is worth watching. 

He took several statements from each candidates’ platform without ascribing which one it came from and asked his audience which statement was consistent with a biblical worldview. Only after they chose which was consistent with biblical principles did he reveal which party had drafted the statement. 

His point – one that I have been making over the last six months – is that the hard pull of the progressive left towards socialism is dangerous, which is why he labeled his sermon “Wake Up America”.  As he noted, the Democratic party is not the same party of the 1960’s of John F. Kennedy, nor even the party of Bill Clinton.  

In fact, if Kennedy was up for election, he would be considered a conservative by most. It was Kennedy who posed the question: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

That sentence has been reversed today in the guise of equality.  Organizations like Black Lives Matter and the drum beat of Critical Race Theory and Social Justice treats the black community as oppressed victims.  The push for reparations for slavery is an example. 

The next generation has been indoctrinated into thinking that revolution and socialism is the answer. This is pure Marxism, and Karl Marx would have been proud, even though he died in 1883. It is more than just ideology; this is a move to change the American democracy by undermining its institutions.

The indoctrination is not just in colleges where it has been taught under the radar for decades, and it is being advanced by mainstream media and social media which is increasingly progressive. As I noted, conservative or dissenting opinion is not welcome, and is often blocked, shadow banned by obliging large tech and social media companies run by progressives. 

If that was not enough, Robert Reich, former head of the U.S. Labor Department and a professor at University of California – Berkley, has proposed a post-election “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”. The stated purpose is to target and censor supporters of the other parties’ presidential candidate. You can’t make this up. This is a Banana Republicidea. 

When I got up this morning, it hit me that the next generation may not understand what the real issues are. The live in a post-modern and increasingly post-Christian world that is far detached from a biblical worldview. They are also woefully deficient in civics or history, and the majority of them (63%) don’t even know what the Holocaust was. 

How then, do we navigate the political arena with the next generation?  It is a world where everything is now politicized. Even things that shouldn’t, by their nature, be political, such as treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. 

While we live in am increasingly turbulent political time, we have one constant that we can cling to:  Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

The challenge here is that the next generation is in desperate need of mentoring.  They need real world mentors with real world life experiences to help them navigate through the political thicket.  In a world where up is now down, and good is now bad, they need seasoned people to walk beside them.  

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You can’t mentor everyone. But investing in the life of just one person may be the most valuable contribution you can make for the Kingdom. Jesus only mentored the Apostles, not everyone He met.

MORE STUFF:   Wake Up America – Gary Hamrick

Live Not by Lies – Dreher

Are Western Christians Facing a Totalitarian Threat from the Left?  Max

Mentoring 101 – An Introduction

WORSHIP: God of The City – Christ Tomlin

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I Can See Clearly Now

For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?  Esther 8:6

This post is more than just the title of a popular song.  It is the culmination of my research and posts on cultural trends over the past couple of years. Increasingly, we are seeing a drift towards socialism by the next generation and a Marxist agenda gaining a foothold.  It is dangerous to our democracy and our nation.

Rod Dreher has written Live Not By Lies. The title comes from the last book written by the anti- communist critic, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, before he left Russia.  Dreher believes we are facing something called “soft totalitarianism”.  His book is in two parts, the first of which is to describe surveillance by large tech companies and a compliant media, academia and corporations. 

Doublethink takes two contradictory beliefs and accepts both of them. If ideology demands it, you will be taught that 2 + 2 = 5. Truth is a falsehood; “freedom” is slavery. Good is now bad. 

We are compelled to engage in “doublethink” every day: “Men have periods. The woman standing in front of you is to be called ‘he’. Diversity and inclusion mean excluding those who object to ideological conformity. Equity means treating people unequally, regardless of their skills and achievements, to achieve an ideologically correct result.”

Dreher’s book contains anecdotes and interviews of people from formerly communist countries who have lived under totalitarian rule.  Those refugees recognize the danger signs and say, “It can happen here.”

Dreher outlines our drift towards socialism and ultimately totalitarianism:

  • The lack of truthful and objective journalism by mainstream media. They have become intolerant propaganda machines for the progressives. They even force a getting Bari Weiss  to resign from the NY Times for not being Woke enough. 
  • Suppression of contrary thought by big tech, either by algorithms, shadow banning or by deleting accounts of selected individuals. Shadow banning refers to the ability of companies like Google to control what you see, or in this case, don’t see. A recent example is the Great Barrington Declaration which was written by epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford. 
  • An increase in a number of Marxist organizations flying under the radar such as Black Lives Matters organization which was founded by three avowed Marxists. A fund raiser for the BLM organization is a former Weatherman terrorist, Susan Rosenbergwhose 57-year sentence was commuted by Clinton on the last day of his Presidency.
  • The cancelling of conservative views on college campuses, sometimes by violence.  A number of conservative speakers have been denied permission to speak across this country. Only one viewpoint is permitted. 
  • The rewriting of American history by the historically inaccurate 1619 Project into a singular tale of racism so that there are only two sides – the good and the bad.  If you are white, you are in the latter camp even though you may have never committed a racist act in your life. This is being sold under the guise of “white fragility”.  It is being used in 4,500 public schools.
  • Surveillance capitalism by Google and others that track everything you do on every visit to the internet.  They justified their tracking as a way to permit vendors to reach interested customers through their buying habits. Now, it goes much farther into to what you think or your political inclinations. 
  • Public social media shaming for those who dare to exercise their first amendment rights, such as the CEO of Mozilla who was shamed on social media because he had made a small personal contribution to a pro-life organization.  He resigned as a result.
  • The denial of personal property as something that is valuable and protected as understood by John Locke and the Framers of our Constitution. Instead, if you are wealthy, “good” victims are justified in looting as reparations.  
  • An increasing postmodern antipathy towards Christianity and Judaism.  Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.  That antipathy includes attacks on the nuclear family.

In Orwell’s Ninety Eighty-Four, all residents had a telescreen in their apartments which  delivered propaganda and monitored residents, “allowing the totalitarian state to invade the privacy of people’s homes”. Today, we have consented to being tracked by our smart watches, apps on phones, Alexa or anytime you go on the internet. Orwell’s “Big Brother” is watching you in the guise of creating a better consumer experience.  

Harvard’s Soshana Zuboff wrote that Surveillance Capitalism is undermining personal autonomy and democracy. Every email on Gmail is processed by Google without your consent. It is a form of surveillance. There is no supervision of how they can use that data. At least not yet.   Remember, 90% of all searches worldwide are done on Google, and they track every one of them in your “data file”.

Most surveillance takes place without our knowledge or even permission. Totalitarian regimes try and control the populace, and one way is through surveillance. In pre-tech days, it was through your neighbor spying on you as in East Germany through the Stasi (secret police).

As Dreher suggests, pandora’s box has been opened to unleash unseen ways “to manipulate individuals into thinking and acting in certain ways”.  That is scary. Dreher ends the book with a call for Christians families to become “resistance cells” powered by our Christian worldviews.

The next generation has no historical perspective and have been manipulated by social media into believing what is being fed them. They favor socialism, but their idealism is not based on facts, reason or history, but on emotionalism. They need mentors in their lives to walk alongside who can provide context.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Many in the next generation need a mentor to come beside them and help them understand that ideologies can produce unintended results. 

FURTHER READING:  Live Not by Lies – Dreher

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism – Zuboff 

Twitter’s Partisan Censors – WSJ

Bari Weiss’s Resignation Letter

Are Western Christians Facing a Totalitarian Threat from the Left?  Max

Why Jew Hatred is Always a Hallmark of the Totalitarian Left  Federalist

The Lingering Trauma of Stasi Surveillance – Atlantic

SONG I Can See Clearly Now – Nash

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The Bolshevik Revolution

I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8

Edmund Burke is credited with the quote that “those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.” The Bolshevik revolution is more relevant to contemporary America than many of might realize, according to Rod Dreher.   I agree.

First, the Russian people were ruled by Nicholas II, a czar, who came to power in 1894. At the time, Russia’s economy was agrarian while the rest of Europe was industrializing. The laborers in Russia lived in misery and exploitation. Calls for reform of the imperial government and the “ossified” Russian Orthodox Church went unheeded.

The small ruling class believed in Prometheanism – a belief that man had unlimited godlike powers to shape the world to suit his personal desires. In their bubble, they assumed that their system of autocracy would survive anything. But it couldn’t. 

Postmodernism is an extension of Prometheanism: it replaces God with man and assumes a good result.  What could possibly go wrong?  

Between 1905 and 1907, nearly 4,500 government officials were killed, and an equal number of private individuals killed or injured.  The following three years saw terrorist acts and revolutionary robberies.  Anna Geifman, a noted Russian historian commented: “Robbery, extortion and murder became more common than traffic accidents.”

“Anyone wearing a uniform was a candidate for a bullet to the head or sulfuric acid to the face” according to Morson. Country estates were burned, and businesses were extorted or “blown up”. The terrorists increasingly went from merely killing to sadism.

How did the educated liberal society react to the terrorism?  That’s where it gets a little scary. They were part of the Kadets party in the Duma (the parliament set up in 1905). The Kadets aided by funding terrorists and turning individual homes as “safe houses”.

They called for total amnesty for arrested terrorists who “pledged to continue the mayhem.” (Does free bail for rioters come to mind?)

Industrialists, bank directors joined lawyers, teachers, doctors and engineers in raising money for the terrorists.  Why? Because it was considered “good manners”. Lenin is attributed as saying “When we are ready to kill the capitalists, they will sell us the rope.”  Let that sink in. This is groupthink on a society level. 

Solzhenitsyn, in November 1916 has Vorontyntsev, the hero,  surrounded by Kadet adherents and realizes that everyone repeats the same progressive slogans. When the hero suggests something that is different, the entire group’s silence is aimed at him. He succumbs and, “as if hypnotized, repeats the progressive pieties with the rest.” 

The hero seeks solace in a university professor, who notes that university professors “must choose every word carefully.”  The professor continues: “in educated Russian society, by no means every view may be expressed. A whole school of thought …is morally forbidden not merely in lectures but in private conversations.”  This is happening on college campuses today.

One of the Kadet party, Peter Struve, broke with its orthodoxy and tried to point out the absurdity of backing bloodthirsty terrorists. He wrote Landmarkswhich failed to sway opinion away from a revolutionary trajectory.  

Struve posited that the intelligentsia (those adherents who worked but were not necessarily intellectuals or well-educated) had conformed not just outwardly in their dress and appearance but in their set of beliefs.

The intelligentsia dogma was atheist at its core. It believed that the world was guided by a blind purposeless force which would lead to progress in human terms and moral perfection. 

To them, your personality is a product of your environment and can improve over time. It reminds me of Churchill’s quote of a man standing in a bucket trying to lift himself up by the handle. 

Every question was to be “judged politically”.  Opposite views were not challenged by logic or evidence but by naming it “reactionary.”  They contrived ways to “justify radical intolerance and violence as [something] forced, understandable and noble.”  

The liberal elites sided with them, although knowing that the anarchist demand to abolish the police would not end well, and that “socialism would not instantly cure all ills”.  Think forward to today’s narrative of violence and riots which caused $2 billion in damage, cost 30 lives but was justified as being “mostly peaceful protests” by liberal politicians and the media. 

In the end, the Bolshevik Revolution brought Lenin (pictured above) to power and it is estimated to have cost 61 million lives. The liberal ruling elites that had supported mayhem were the first to be attacked or sent to gulags. Among other things, communism abolished private property by eliminating self-ownership.   

Fast forward to 2020 where we see Antifa, dressed in black-masked uniforms, inciting violence and riots in 140 American cities. We see defund the police movements spreading. Even worse, where anyone who challenges orthodox narratives like white fragilitysocial justice or critical race theory are being cancelled, punished or even censored by private tech companies. 

Our challenge is to remember the past and its lessons. When we see them being repeated again, we need to realize where things are headed. Our next generation is compromised by their lack of historical perspective and they rely on social media for their truth.  

At the core of today’s cultural movements is a total disregard for Christian truth. As Christians, we are guided by God, not ourselves.  

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Your mentee may have never heard of the Bolsheviks or the Holocaust. You can do him a favor to get a historical perspective by reading about the Revolution and its devastating results. FUTHER READING: Suicide of the Liberals – Gary Morson

Live Not By Lies – Dreher

Are Western Christians Facing a Totalitarian Threat from the LeftWax

Landmarks: A Collection of Essays on the Russian Intelligentsia – Struve

What’s Wrong with Promethianism?

Not White Fragility – Mutual Responsibility  Gospel Coalition

What to Do About the Emerging Threat of Censorship on the Internet – Cato Institute

Tracking Cancel Culture in Higher Education

WORSHIPNot to Us – Tomlin

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John Locke (1632-1704)

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Romans 13:1

I pushed this post up my queue because of the US Senate confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett for the US Supreme Court.  Forty years ago, a confirmation of a nominee for the Supreme Court was pretty ho hum.  That changed with the Robert Bork nomination by President Reagan, and it has deteriorated since into harsh partisan rhetoric.

Our Constitution specifically prohibits a “religious test” for any federal employee (a Supreme Court Justice is one of these). Nonetheless, questions of a nominee’s religion have risen on more than one occasion. When Barrett, a devout Catholic, was confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Senator Diane Feinstein wondered whether “The dogma [of Catholicism] lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern”. 

As I write this, Barrett is going through her nominating process before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Whether senators choose to follow Feinstein’s lead and inquire into her Catholic faith remains to be seen. But the very fact that it came up in an earlier confirmation hearing bears taking note.

The reason? Well, today, many (including Senators) gets it totally wrong about the role of faith in public life.  The Feinstein question brings about an opposite question. What if the candidate was an activist atheist who has no grounding of moral right and wrong? Would that disqualify them?  

The beginnings of our nation started with settlers who emigrated to avoid religious persecution.  Our framers were very careful to create a democracy based on Christian principles, but at the same time, they kept religion separate from government.

John Locke, an influential political thinker to the founders of our country, navigated through the thicket of religion and government. While this country has strong Christian roots, it was never founded as purely a Christian nation. Nor was it a product of the secular Enlightenment where science and reason replaced God.

To Locke, “the role of faith in public life is [still] misunderstood” by both sides. In A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), Locke wrote: “Toleration of those that differ from others in matters of religion is so agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”  He continues: “It seems monstrous for men to be so blind” as to not tolerate others. 

Locke was actually a critic of religious authoritarianism, and he said: “There is no such thing as a Christian commonwealth”.  Instead, he emphasized that the “spiritual obligations that God’s love and mercy placed on every person”.  

In The Reasonableness of Christianity, Locke maintained that it’s not enough to believe in Jesus “unless we obey his laws and take him to be our king and reign over us.” As individuals, we are to be examples of Jesus for others to imitate. That was true then as it is today.

While Locke was worried about theocracy, he was more more concerned of the threat of atheism. “The taking away of God, even in thought, dissolves all.” 

 As Zachery Rogers writes, “Atheists who deny God remove one of prime reasons men obey the law, keep their word, and comply with contracts—fear of God’s punishment and eternal damnation”.

Locke’s approach was generous to religion. It resulted in the Bill of Rights’ protection of religious liberty and in the prohibition in the Constitution of religious tests for public office.   Our founders created an ethos of “freedom, pluralism and equal justice” and it has lasted 230 years.

Locke wrote “how happy” he would be and “how great the fruit” in both church and state, “if the pulpits everywhere sounded with this doctrine of peace and toleration.”  It was his inspiration that helped our nation turn religious diversity into “a source of cultural strength and renewal” which has been unmatched anywhere else in the world. 

To Locke, the Church is responsible for saving souls whereas the state (government) is responsible for preserving natural rights which includes the preservation of life and property (or as Locke said: “the just Possession of these things belonging to his life.”

As an aside, as we watch our cities being looted and burned, and over 30 people have lost their lives from “mostly peaceful protests”, it is very sobering to see that Locke was adamant that the government not only protect life but also man’s possessions. 

The John Locke Foundation was formed in 1990 in North Carolina. It is dedicated to using the principles of John Locke in “creating strong families and successful communities committed to individual liberty and limited, constitutional government”. The website has a useful pull-down menu of “Explore Issues” which advances Locke’s principles on many public policy issues. 

The challenge here is that the next generation is largely ignorant of civics and the principles of our founding fathers or even those that inspired them like John Locke. Without that context, they have great difficulty in navigating today’s issues. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Your mentee is likely to have a deficit in understanding Civics due to a lack of emphasis on this topic in schools. It’s important for them to know how and why this country was founded, and a mentor can be a resource to that end.

FUTHER READING:  The No Religious Test Clause [of the Constitution]

John Locke and the Fight over Judge Barrett’s Catholicism – NR

John Locke on the “Reasonableness of Christianity” – Riano

When the Dogma Lives Loudly – Chaput

John Locke Foundation – Explore Issues

How Robert Bork’s Nomination led to a Changed Supreme Court

WORSHIP:  Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)  – Thomlin

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Postmodernism


What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  
Eccl.1:9

One of my close friends, Ralph Ennis, frequently mentioned that we live in a “post-modern” world. My eyes would glaze, and I would knowingly nod my head in agreement, not really understanding this cultural descriptor.  I suspect I am not alone.

As Scott Allen notes, “All cultural change begins with language change. Changes in language – new words, new definitions – can usually be traced to thought leaders who may have lived hundreds of years before.”

Worldviews help us make sense of our identity and purpose. We have to start with pre-modernism, a worldview which started with the Reformation in the middle ages. It was a worldview based on a belief in God.  This included the concept of original sin and that humans were subject to God’s will. 

The Enlightenment changed that, and faith in God was replaced by experience and reason. It emphasized science and individualism. Science and reason became the basis to prove the world true. 

As Andy Kalan notes: “There sprouted a utopian optimism in the belief that humanity (and science) could explain and fix all problems.” In other words, the Bible was “out”, and science was “in”. 

Moral agency (the right of an individual to determine his course) replaced a reflexive action based on biblical principles. Spiritual considerations wouldn’t hold up to the weight of science and Darwin pushed the idea that life was the result of spontaneous and chaotic naturalism. Yet even his theory of evolution doesn’t provide answers at a molecular level. 

Modernism provided the notion that “we are all just animals acting out of our instinctual ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality set within us for our benefit.”  The result?  “Two world wars which pushed power structures and racism causing unforeseen devastation by people who were considered “civilized, cultured and evolutionary advanced”.

Fast forward to the 1960’s when postmodernism started as a quest to “figure out who I am.” Premodernism was defined by agriculture; modernism by capitalism, industry and mass production. Postmodernism shifted to the need for communication between isolated individuals searching for “meaning, experience from which to belong.”  It’s economic model is socialism.

Premodernism was based on “where we came from”; modernism was based on a career-driven “what we do”; and postmodernism’s focus is on “who I am.”  All have a similar ring. In a way, they each represent the three basic human needs to be loved, to be known and to be provided for. 

Michael Foucault, the French postmodern thinker in the late 20th century argued that “language is more about power than it is about truth”. He insisted that, in modern society, “the deployment of force and the establishment of truth” are identical. 

In the postmodern world, truth is fungible. There is no absolute truth, which makes biblical moorings difficult to maintain. Instead, political power replaces truth; if they can cancel your voice, threaten you with violent riots and force you to comply, then the imaginary world they  demand will come into being. 

The new “truth” isn’t based on the objective world or something we can describe or experience. It becomes the decisions that strong people make.  It justifies violence to create and enforce. We see groups like Antifa roaming the streets of our cities causing violence and rioting, and one has to see the connection to postmodernism. 

The agitators today present their ideas as new. They are not.  In Greek times,  gurus like Heraclitus insisted “all things are in flux”, which meant that there was no stable truth which could be known or counted on.

Thrasymachus, a Greek who argued with Socrates in Plato’s Republic, was the precursor to Foucault. He asserted that “justice is simply the will of the stronger.” 

“Truth” has become so distorted that you wouldn’t recognize it. An example is the recent media and political narrative that riots, violence, lootings and even murders in many US cities were really mostly “peaceful protests”.  

One cable news network featured a newsman giving a video report that the protests in Kenosha, WI, were “fiery but mostly peaceful” while standing in front of burning cars. Those “mostly peaceful protests” did close to $2 billion of damage to 140 cities and almost 30 died in the past 6 months.

That was not an isolated instance of media misinformation. We are being gaslighted, which is a reference from the play Gas Light in 1938.  It is a form of psychological abuse aimed at controlling a person by altering reality and truth.

In the play, a husband sequentially turns lowers the gas-powered lights in the house. When his wife notices the dimming, her husband denies it and convinces her that she is imagining it to the point where she questions her own sanity. 

We are now living in a period of constant gaslighting, where the “reality” being told is at odds with what we see. If you push back, you will be labeled and cancelled. Socialism is the answer because capitalism is oppressive, yet over 100 million people died from communism in the 20th century. 

The challenge is to realize that postmodernism is Post-truth. It has bent truth beyond recognition and reality. Our next generation has been brought up in an environment where  social media – their primary source for information – don’t question what is being fed to them. 

They are searching for meaning in life, and they need others to come alongside who will display authentic and transparent lives with integrity.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You should recognize that your mentee is weak on history. If they don’t know about the Holocaust, then they can be deceived by narratives that are not true. You can help by leaning in and provide context such as an understanding of postmodernism. 

FURTHER READING:

Defining modernism and pre-modernism and Postmodernism – Stephen Hicks

Analysis of History: The Story of Premodernism, Modernism and Postmodernism – Andy Kalan

Discipline and Punish – Foucalt

Death Toll Rises to Estimated 30 Since “Mostly Peaceful Protests” Began – Federalist

Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice – Scott Allen

WORSHIP:  Your Love Changes Everything – Red Rocks Worship

Social Justice

“I was blind but now I see.”  John 9:25

On Sunday, I listened to one of my friends, Marty Prince, play the harmonica during our worship service.  He was simply amazing as a virtuoso.  He had no music to follow, because Marty is blind. Afterwards, I found him and complemented him, and he replied: “Nice to see you, Bill.”  I’ll let that sink in.

What does that have to do with “social justice”.  Well, a lot, actually, because it is a term of recent coinage that is thrown around and sounds nice, but is it really?  It even uses a term that has biblical dimensions: “justice”.  We have a just God, after all, and the term justice appears throughout the Bible. 

It was first used as a Catholic term in 1840 to describe a “new kind of virtue (habit) necessary for a post-agrarian societies”.  It has morphed into a term used by progressives to describe “the uniform state distribution of society’s advantages and disadvantages.”   We think of justice as coming to a just and equitable solution.  That is not the social justice of today.

It has nebulous meanings, but one thing is clear:  it is not biblical and in fact is becoming a problem in Christianity to the extent that it has crept into usage. To some Christians, if you are “not into social justice, then you must not care about racism or abortion or sexual assault or inequality or the imago dei itself”, according to Kevin Deyoung

Deyoung goes through what the Bible says about justice, starting with Leviticus 19, , and ending with Luke 4.  His summary is that biblical social justice means “treating people equitably, working for systems and structures that are fair, and looking out for the weak and the vulnerable.” 

Note the term “equitably”.  Current usage has redefined “justice” as it was used in the French Revolution where the French term “égalité” was introduced. Sounds the same, but it’s not.  What égalité meant is equal, not equitable. 

Social justice requires equality of outcome. In the bible, equality refers to equality that all humans possess as “image-bearers of God.” Scott Allen writes: “All people have equal dignity, worth, and God-given rights” even though we may be diverse in “our sex, our personalities, our gift and our ethnic backgrounds.”

In other words, equality of opportunity where personal responsibility and accountability plays into the matrix of one’s life.

Which brings me back to a lesson in history of Marxism. Members of the Frankfurt School came to the United States during and after WWII. They were influenced by Antonio Gramasci, a Marxist theorist, who advocated giving new meanings and definitions to prior language.  Their goal was to alter Marxism from an economic struggle to a cultural struggle.

By redefining words and phrases, they have been able to seductively change words and phrases into things that obscure the old meaning. Social justice is one of those phrases, and when the evangelical church “exchanges the biblical definition of a word as important as justice with a counterfeit, it is no small matter” according to Scott Allen. 

Allen’s book, Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justiceis a must read. It demonstrates how the term social justice now embraces Critical Race Theory (CRT), in that it has a distorted view of racism in America.  It is a post-modern ideology which “holds that ultimate authority is not vested in God, or in science, but in the autonomous, sovereign individual.”

In other words, the theology of God has been replaced by the ideology of man. It is a verbal wolf in sheep’s clothing. Allen writes that Biblical justice “requires that authorities render judgments fairly, treating everyone before the law because…. that’s how God treats us”. 

Social justice has now been redefined: “The tearing down of traditional structures and systems deemed to be oppressive, and the redistribution of power and resources to victims in pursuit of equality of outcome.”  Reparations are form of redistribution of resources.

Recently, riots and looting occurred at stores on the Miracle Mile in Chicago, triggered by misinformation.  The damages were estimated at $60 million. One of the looters who emerged through the broken window of a store with arms full of merchandise is quoted as saying this was “reparations” and that he deserved it. 

The scene was described as an “uncompensated retail experience” by one media source. No one mentioned that it was stealing and criminal. The biblical value goes back to the Mosaic law which said “thou shalt not steal.”  Social justice overrides that law by justifying theft. It is an example of man’s ideology overriding biblical values.

The social justice ideology is not about social justice but power, oppression and victimization. It uses tactics similar to Mao’s Cultural Revolution so that the ends justify the means. It is hostile toward Judeo-Christian religion, particularly in its beliefs of the natural family and sexuality. Finally, as my story above indicates, it is fixated on redistributing wealth and power. 

Allen’s book was an “Aha” moment for me.  I was blind but now I see what is really going on, and it is dangerous. If you do not realize that the post-modern concept is that “each person is a law unto himself or herself”, you get chaos because there will be no order in society. 

Sadly, Allen notes that “individual freedom, responsibility and accountability are all casualties of this profoundly destructive and dehumanizing belief.” In contrast, the Bible affirms the importance and value of every individual. 

Yet social justice is now mainstream in western culture and has even crept into the Church. It is a false teachingand one which we need to spotlight. It leads to an erosion of the rule of law, the loss of due process, the loss of free speech through Cancel Culture, the loss of truth and ultimately the erosion of religious liberty. It leads to the loss of any basis of civility (most can see this already), and no hope for future justice.

In a post Christian world, it is a successor ideology to biblical principles. Allen quotes Andrew Sullivan who said: “that, for many, especially the young, discovering a new meaning [for life] is thrilling.”

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   Your mentee is likely to favor the concept of social justice, and it is very important that you take the time to help him see the fallacies from a biblical worldview.

RESOURCES:

Social Justice is Not What You Think It Is. Heritage Foundation

Is Social Justice a Gospel Issue?  Gospel Coalition

Critical Theory: An Introduction to the Frankfurt School

Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice – Allen

WORSHIPLove Changes Everything  Red Rock Worship

The Holocaust

I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Col. 1:4

For the older generation – Baby Boomers who were born at the end of WWII – this was one of the saddest episodes in human history.  It was an attempt at genocide of the Jews in Germany, Poland and areas controlled by Nazi Germany. Over 6 million Jews were killed in extermination camps.  That was 2 of every 3 Jews in Europe.

On my first family trip to Germany in the early 1980’s, we visited Dachau, the first of one thousand concentration camps. They were created in 1933 by Adolph Hitler when he became Chancellor of Germany.  It was a sobering experience, one which I will never forget. 

Several years later while visiting Israel with Jewish friends, we toured Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. It was moving and instructive at the same time. The wife of our Jewish friend who accompanied us is now a Docent at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

The DC Holocaust Museum has an Encyclopedia of Holocaust information. It describes the Holocaust as a “systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators”.  It goes on:

“The Nazis, […] believed that Germans were ‘racially superior’ and they wanted to create a ‘racially pure’ state. Jews, deemed ‘inferior,’ were considered an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.”

Over the years, there have been denials that the Holocaust happened.  Those, unfortunately, have crept into social media.  The CEO of Facebook suggested said that he didn’t think deniers of the Holocaust were “intentionally getting it wrong.”  That comment is hard to imagine in light of the existence of gas chambers pictured above. Those are not a mirage. 

Because the next generation get their information from social media, it comes as no surprise that they are largely uninformed.  About 1 in 10 young adults in America think that Jewish people caused the holocaust, or that it didn’t happen, or they aren’t even sure it took place according to a recent survey

That may be bad enough, but a shocking 50% of millennials and Gen Z reported seeing Holocaust denial or distortion posts online.  63% of all those surveyed did not know that six million Jews were murdered and 36% thought that less than two thousand Jews died. 

Two thirds of millennials in America don’t know what Auschwitz was and half of Americans believe that the Holocaust could happen again.  Seventeen per cent could not name a concentration camp or ghetto (there were 40,000 of those in all).

Why is this important?  Well, lots of reasons, but the main one is that it shows a tragic failure of the education system to teach accurate history in our school systems.  Edmund Burke is quoted as saying that “those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

We are seeing an attack on our foundations and history at unprecedented levels, including the teaching of Critical Race Theory and curriculum based on the 1619 Project. What is clear is that it shows how quickly our foundational knowledge can be lost, and once lost, replaced by “terribly skewed or mistaken things” according to Ralph Emory White

Which brings me to Christianity.  Gen Z is the first generation to have been brought up in a post-Christian era, certainly in the U.S. “They are not simply living in and being shaped by a post-Christian cultural context. They do not even have a memory of the gospel,” according to White.

This has huge implications for Christianity.  If they don’t know about the Holocaust, they certainly don’t know that the Nazi party stood for “National Socialist Germany Workers Party” and that socialism has a sordid history. And if they don’t know about the Jewish people killed in the Holocaust, they have no chance of knowing about a Jewish man who lived 2000 years ago.

Our challenge is to reach across generational boundaries and walk beside the next generation. Their views on history and religion are shaped by social media, not history or the bible. As such, it may be too much to ask them to read history books, but not too much to develop a relationship with a mentor. 

They may not remember history, so it is up us to pass it on to the next generation. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: One area to explore with your mentee is his or her knowledge of history. To the extent that it is weak, you can provide simple resources to build up what our school systems have left out.

FURTHER READING:

Dachau Concentration Camp  History.com

Social Media’s Denials of the Holocaust is No Mistake – they are Hate Speech The Hill

New Survey Shows Ignorance of Holocaust  

First State by State Survey of Holocaust Knowledge Claims Conference

Generation Z, the Holocaust and the Bible – White

US Holocaust Museum Website

WORSHIPGraves into Gardens – Elevation Worship

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CRT

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. 1 Cor. 3:19

CRT stands for Critical Race Theory.  You may not have heard of it, but if you are in the U.S., you have seen elements of it being played out in our streets, media, academia, and more importantly, in our public-school system.  

It is the basis for much of the divisiveness and unrest which we have seen this year, although it has been a long time coming. While racism exists and is a result of the sin of partiality which is condemned  in James, CRT goes far beyond that. Its theory includes the following concepts:

            *  Racism is the singular evil which causes everything to be wrong with our culture; it is the equivalent of original sin. 

            * “Systemic Racism” and its evil twin “unconscious bias” is endemic in our western culture. The only remedy is to destroy all institutions – political and economic – including any moral standards or social norms.

            * ”White privilege” comes from the group that is deemed to be the most privileged ethnic group. As such, it is the main proof of systemic racism (to the exclusion of other minority groups like Hispanics and Asians who have also faced discrimination).

            * “Racism” is uniquely white. Members of other “less privileged ethnic groups” are also victims of social injustice and can join in as a response to their own oppression.

            *  “White supremacy” is a form of racial terrorism and pervades all institutions, policies, practices that it is all but “impossible to think outside it.”

            *  All white people are universally stereotyped as racist, whether or not that’s true.

            *  Ergo, being white is an evil that requires confession and must be repudiated, but even that does not lead to forgiveness.

            *  Members of privileged ethnic groups are racist if they deny being racist.

The list goes on, but I think you see the direction. Decades of unrelenting indoctrination have resulted in ethnic animosity and civic unrest. It creates a “we” versus “they” mentality which only widens the chasm between the races. 

CRT is dangerous to our well-being and western civilization. It is also unbiblical and unmoored from authentic Christianity.  It divides the world into racial groups whereas the New Testament breaks down all such barriers: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free…for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

How did it get so popular and become the basis of the NY Times 1619 Project, which incorrectly rewrites American history based on CRT.  Public schools, including middle schools, are using the 1619 Project as part of their curriculum. Corporations have embraced diversity and unconscious bias training.  Black Lives Matter has its roots in CRT. 

As Christians, we are taught that love does not take into account a wrong suffered. As such, the Christian model is to turn the other cheek, loving our enemies and praying for those who mistreat us.  We follow the model of Christ who, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return”.

Even the Evangelical church has fallen prey to CRT. It has infected the church and Baptist seminaries are now teaching CRT.  Throughout the existence of Christianity, the church has “shamelessly borrowed fads and talking points from the unbelieving world” according to John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church.  

I liken this ubiquitous spread of CRT to a virus in our culture. It’s a pandemic only no one knows they’ve been infected because it has been clothed in terms that hides its purpose. 

John Lindsay, an atheist mathematician warns that CRT is a Trojan Horse by “smuggling ideas into the movement that will eventually eliminate core biblical values and doctrines.” He’s right.

John MacArthur puts it this way: “Never has the church of Jesus Christ been more desperately in need of bold, courageous, clear-thinking, forthright, steadfast biblical leadership.”  

Space doesn’t permit more analysis, but I suggest that readers may want to read Gerald McDermott’s article on the five ways that CRT is incompatible with Christianity. 

Robin DiAngelo authored White Fragility, a book that embraces CRT and which is used by companies in their diversity trainings.   Only problem is that it is an intellectual fraud according to David Burke. I agree with Burke.

We need for Christian leaders to step back from this false teaching.  Jesus promises that the Great Shepherd will replace false shepherds with faithful shepherds “who will hold fast to his sheep.”  

The challenge is that CRT is everywhere – in the workplace, the school, in our businesses, and very few in the Church have stepped up to counter it.  We need for pastors in our churches to be vigilant to popular social and cultural ideologies that contradict Christianity.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Most in the next generation are steeped in CRT and haven’t thought through its implications. You can help them with clear theology to understand why it is dangerous to our culture.

FURTHER READING:

How CRT is Marginalizing the African American Christian Tradition – Michigan Journal

Stanford offers sessions on ‘racial terror’, claiming it’s ‘nearly impossible’ to think outside of White Supremacy – Fox 

Is Critical Race Theory Compatible with Christian Faith?  Juicy Ecumenism

Critical Race Theory, A Sickness that Cannot Be Allowed to Continue   MacArthu

Critical Race Theory – What is it?  Patheos

Marxist CRT Infiltrates Churches, Culture – Epoch Times

The Intellectual Fraud of DiAngelo’s “White Fragility”  Burke

WORSHIP:  Christ is Enough  – Hillsong

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Enron Redux

A picture containing outdoor, building, clock, sitting

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Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.  
Eccl. 4:8

Not everyone will remember the Enron scandal which occurred in 2001.  It was a high-flying energy company whose stock had soared but was managed by corrupt people.  There was no check and balance on insider corporate transactions resulting in officers of the company enriching themselves to the detriment of the company.

Congress enacted legislation which, while well intended, doesn’t really correct corrupt leadership.  The Sarbanes Oxley(SOX) Act created a template for corporate governance.  Primary among its provisions was dealing with conflicts of interest. 

While SOX only affected for-profit corporations. The leading organization that promotes best practices for Christian non-profits and churches is ECFA (Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability). It was quick to embrace SOX accountability and conflict of interest rules.

Among other ECFA standards,  It set forth rules for approval of compensation as well as dealing with conflicts of interest of transactions with a “related party”, which could be the family of an officer. Only disinterested members of a Board can vote to approve a transaction where there is a conflict of interest.

Many states changed their non-profit statutes to require governing boards to have disinterested members approve any transaction where there is a conflict of interest. 

What is surprising is that Enron was a public corporation whose stock was traded on the NY stock exchange. As such, it was already highly regulated and subject to a myriad set of oversight and rules regarding governance. Arthur Andersen, its large auditor, went out of business. 

One concept of governing Boards (whether they are elders, trustees or directors) is that they are responsible for oversight and have fiduciary standards.  In the public arena, there are no more “rubber stamp” or figurehead boards where the members do no real governing nor holding officers accountable. 

Can Enron occur again?  I am sure it will in the for-profit world, but it will be another iteration designed to escape discovery.

I give this background because the Christian world has seen its share of ministry leaders fail, yet the real culprit is their governing boards who have sat on their hands when there was anecdotal evidence that something was wrong. 

An Enron “event” has occurred several times in the Christian world recently.  Two examples:  Bill Hybels of Willow Creek, and more recently, Jerry Falwell, Jr. at Liberty University, a Christian college in southern Virginia. 

Hybels was senior pastor at Willow Creek, a mega church with around 16,000 members near Chicago, ILL. He stepped down in 2019 when allegations of sexual misconduct and intimidation of employees surfaced. A majority of the Elders resigned, and the allegations were found to be correct by a third party investigation.

Having been on an Elder Board of a church where a group of the elders attempted to bring the senior pastor into a level of personal accountability, I can say that there were signs of trouble with Hybels long before it became public. Just the strength and charisma of a leader makes such efforts hard. 

And then there is Jerry Falwell, Jr., a lawyer by training, who took over Liberty University from his father. He recently resigned over character issues – a lifestyle that was not consistent with Christianity. He acted with impunity in part because the Trustees were not adhering to good governance principles. 

The Liberty Board had 33 members, which by any best practice standards is too large for a working Board where dissenting voices could be heard. Instead of investigating issues which had been obvious for years, they looked the other way (or worse, they didn’t even look). 

To add insult to injury, Falwell was permitted to resign making him eligible for $10 million in termination benefits. What should have happened?  They should have fired him, and they all need to resign and start over.

In the Christian world, you shouldn’t need SOX or its non-profit adaptations to govern a ministry or a church. The Bible has plenty to say about the character and conduct of leaders, as well as being accountable and stewardship.  

The trouble is that many ministries are top down leadership models where a strong and charismatic leader can fail in plain sight.  Good governance on ministry boards comes with the requirement to be involved, not sit back and watch a disaster unfold. 

We are all capable of depravity.  It happened to Bill Hybels and Jerry Falwell, Jr. It is a lesson to all boards that we need each other to be held into account. No man is an island. Being a “King” is inconsistent with being a servant.

The challenge is for each of us to realize that we are all capable of some level of failure and brokenness. We need others in our lives to keep us on the path when we veer off course. That requires a commitment, humility and transparency which is so often lacking from a top down leader.

I am noted for telling others that if you don’t have an accountability group, you are an accident waiting to happen.  Satan doesn’t pick on groups – he picks on individuals.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Personal integrity is a team sport. Make sure your mentee has close friends to help him or her stay on track.

FURTHER RESEARCH:  Enron Scandal: The Fall of a Wall Street Darling

Sarbanes Oxley Act

After Jerry Falwell Jr., a Reckoning for Liberty University – WSJ

The Falwell Fiasco:  Where was the Board?  Ministry Watch

ECFA Principles of Stewardship – Conflicts of Interest

WORSHIP:  Cornerstone – Hillsong

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