Bishop's Blog - January 2017

Published: 3rd January 2017

According to the compilers of the Oxford Dictionary the word of the year in 2016 was Post-Truth. It is a word that has often been linked over the last year with phrases such as Post -Truth politics or even a Post-Truth world. Often it has been used to help explain the success of both the Brexit and Trump campaigns. Not because their campaigns were necessarily less truthful than their opponents, but because they depended to a greater degree on appeals to emotion and personal opinion rather than factual arguments. Hence Michael Gove famously downplaying the importance of expert opinions in the Referendum debate. And much of the analysis of why people voted as they did in the Referendum suggests that it was indeed how people felt about Europe and felt about their place in modern British society that led them to vote as they did.

Post-Truth may sound very alarming and we should rightly be very vigilant for those occasions when people in public life or those who air their views on social media play fast and loose with facts for their own advantage or gratification.

But there is an equal danger, that people may claim possession of The Truth when they are in no position to make that claim. That was probably what lay behind Michael Goves comments i.e that experts were lining up to predict the dire consequences of a vote for Brexit when they could not be sure of the truth of their predictions. In some Christian circles it is fashionable to speak of Biblical Truth as if the Bible is a set of factual propositions that can be proven.

In reality, truth is a concept that we should approach with a great degree of caution. We may well feel it, experience it, glimpse it, as much as know it or understand it. A true faith, one which is real and life-changing, will be a faith that we can grasp with all our senses. But it will not be a faith which we can prove to anyone else.

Jesus chose to reveal the truth about God and his coming Kingdom, principally through telling stories.

In a Post-Truth world, where appeals to feelings and emotions seem to have the greatest traction, perhaps, following Jesus example, its personal testimony and story-telling which are the most powerful means of bearing witness to the faith which, we believe, ultimately, will lead us into all truth.

+Clive Wulfrun
January 2017

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