The Murder of Objective Truth.
Good Gosh Darn- The Personal Reflections of Carver:
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How does a pastor handle the current events of these days?
How does anyone handle the events of this past year and the events of the year that has just begun? How does a pastor handle the events of this past year and the year that has just begun?
There is no doubt that the year of our Lord, Twenty Twenty was an emotional roller coaster. In the shortest of terms, it hurt. And now that we are finally past it and into Twenty Twenty-one, we can clearly see that nothing has changed with the ticking of the clock from 11:59-12:00. The insanity has not ended, it has only ramped up.
There is no denying that we are living in historic times. Twenty Twenty was filled with pandemic, shutdowns, mask mandate, social distancing, violent riots, an un-heard of suicide rate, the death of small business, arguably the most divisive election in our history, and so much more. And now just a few meager days into Twenty Twenty-one and the capital has been stormed during the constitutional process to verify the election, and now the impeachment process for Donald J. Trump has begun for the second time.
How should we respond to this? How should I as a preacher of the Word of God respond to this? Well, I think it would be prudent to first look at what the natural reaction for tragic days like this is.
Shock. The death of something you love leads to shock.
When something you love dies it is natural to enter a state of shock. You carry through the motions of what you are used to. You get up, shower, go to work, and carry on. The chief difference is that you feel the nagging sense of emptiness in the pit of your stomach. Perhaps you don’t hear when people say your name. You’re lost in the blackness of the emptiness that is your thought life.
I think there is an overwhelming sense of shock right now. “Is this real?” Is the resounding question. We live so far from the capital that the news seems to be just images on a screen. Are we really living through a time that will likely be in history books for ages to come? That is, assuming we still have history books when the dust settles.
I know I have felt the numbness that comes with shock. Waking up and seeing yet another tragedy in the news. The fog of the insanity of reality seems to be so thick we can cut it with a knife. But I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This affords itself some clarity.
So how does a pastor respond to the events that are unfolding in our nation right now?
Weeping. When something you love dies, you cry.
As shock builds, that pit of emptiness builds and builds until it pours over. Not everyone catches what spills over from shock in the same way. We are unique people who respond differently. But a common response is to weep. When something you love dies, you cry. Tears begin to roll from that place of empty fog.
The first tear is likely alone. It’s motivation may be from fear or anger or some combination of emotions. That tear builds in your eye and it slowly slides down your face to fall to the ground. At first it’s hard to believe that a tear has finally fallen but the evidence is there in the wet spot staining the page of the paper in front of you. It may be the first, but you know more are on their way.
The sadness as the death of something you love is a deep rooted sadness. It burns in the pit of your personhood. I know that feeling as one knows a lifelong friend. It is familiar to me. In a way, I feel the grip of that familiar sadness. But I am a pastor.
So how does a pastor respond to this?
Anger. When something you love is murdered you get angry.
Perhaps an even more common response is anger. The pit of empty fog and sadness can (and often does) manifest itself in anger. But this anger can manifest itself in a couple different ways.
Denial. Anger can lead to denial of what has/is happening. “It isn’t ______, It has to be _____!” And anyone who disagrees gets the full front of your pent up anger.
This is seen clearly on both sides where we hear people denying and glorifying those they worship. It was seen clearly in those who supported the “mostly peaceful protests” of Twenty Twenty that burned buildings and businesses to the ground out of pure anger. It is now clearly seen in those justifying the violence in the capital this week.
Accusation. Anger can lead to accusing anyone you disagree with of being the lone cause of all the pain we are experiencing. “If you are _______ then this is clearly all your fault!”
This is seen clearly in those who try to shift the blame from their glorious ones to the clear demons on the other side. “It by all means cannot be our side who did these heinous acts.”
It is also seen in those who lump an entire group in with those who performed violence. “If you voted for Trump then you are personally responsible for the violence at the capital. And you’re a racist. And you’re evil. And you should be executed… ect.”
Righteous Anger. Anger does not have to be evil and wrong. In fact, there is a beauty to a righteous anger. When something you love is murdered, only the most unloving person on earth would be devoid of anger. We see this anger at work today as well. These are the ones who have been consistently angry with the violence and destruction of America, regardless of who was doing the destroying.
This is the only apropriate response. The others types of anger are understandable, but they are understandable in the way that it makes sense that a toddler will scream in an unhinged rage when you take their toy away to put them to bed.
The only apropriate anger is that of righteous indignation at the state of violence and wickedness running rampant in our country and church. It should anger us when we see anarchy. It should anger us when we see the hatred towards others. It should anger us that we see evil. If these things do not anger us then you do not love Jesus. I say this because these things are distinctly “anti-Jesus.” As Christians, we should be angry about them. But we must obey Scripture’s ever powerful command to “Be angry and do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26
But how does one respond in this form of anger? How does a pastor, who preaches from the pulpit every week respond to this?
A case for the death of the America I love.
I suppose we should start with the backing for my statements about the death of America. “Jonathan, America is still in existence. You’re starting to sound like a wack conspiracy theorist.” Maybe you’re right. And yes America is still standing. But allow me to state my claim and then back up my claim.
The claim: The America of the past is dead and gone. It has been murdered in a most brutal manner.
As evidence of this murder, I point to the ashes of the fires of Twenty Twenty and the still roaring flames of Twenty Twenty-One. Our very process of ordered liberty has been openly challenged and now is being challenged through anarchy. It is an indisputable fact that ordered liberty cannot survive anarchy. The electoral process is openly questioned (for the record, this claim is made with decent backing) and doubted by many. How can a system of government maintain it’s integrity when the populous openly question if it is even legitimate? This is a rhetorical question but for the sake of clarity I will answer it. The answer is that a system of government built by and for the people cannot withstand the people not having faith in it.
All of this to say that the America we all knew is dead. It cannot continue in the same form as it was in. The America of the past has been murdered. I hope that much is clear to all. But what do we do in light of this fact?
An Autopsy. When there is a murder, you attempt to discover how it was killed.
The next logical step in a murder investigation is to perform an autopsy on the victim. What killed them? Was it a gunshot wound to the head? Was it a knife to the back? What killed the victim?
When we examine the death of what we have known, what are the results? How has the America we have all known passed on? Let’s examine the results and doing so, let me back up my claim that America has been killed.
The results of the autopsy.
When we examine the death of a human being, we start with the foundation of what keeps a human being alive. A brain, a heart, lungs, exc. If the gunshot wounds destroy the heart, the human cannot live. If the head has been damaged, resulting in the failure of the brain, the human cannot live. There are foundational things that keep humans alive. So what is foundational to America?
My case is that America is founded on the very idea of objective truth. America was founded on the Christian worldview. It was founded upon the idea that there is objective truth and that truth is fact. Reality is real. Red is red, blue is blue, right is right, wrong is wrong.
So what killed America? Poison. There was no hostile invading force. There was no gunshot. The murder occurred over time. The slow poisoning of the nightly meal. Slurp slurp slurp. The soup was devoured night after night until finally the poison took hold and the victim fell face first into their soup bowl.
Murder of objective truth.
The murder was caused by the death of objective truth. Slowly over time people began to embrace the post-modern idea that there is no real truth. What’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me. You have no real claim over reality, and neither do I. Swallow the red pill, we’re all in the matrix anyway.
What is truth? Isn’t just the lens we view reality through anyway? Who’s to say that what you think is true, is true? Ideas like these have poisoned the water hole and we’ve been drinking like all is normal. But how long can this last? Maybe a little longer. But the sad fact of reality is that drinking this poison has only one logical outcome, if I dare use the word “logic” in this day and age.
Embracing of insanity.
The natural outcome of drinking the relativistic slurpy we have all been served is anarchy. If there is no truth, then who is there to deny my truth? If there is no right or wrong, then you can’t say what I’m doing is wrong. I can do whatever I want and claim it to be something noble and you can’t disagree with me. Or as we are seeing in our current day and age, “I can identify as whatever I was want and if you disagree with me then you are doing violence to me and you should be punished. Why? Because I say it’s true.”
And any attempt to answer the fool back according to their folly leads to screaming and language like “Bigot, Racist, Sexist,” or other more colorful terms. With the death of objective truth comes utter anarchy. There is no other option. Language can be changed to mean whatever we say it does and there’s nothing you can do to stop us. Riot becomes “peaceful protest.” Don’t mind the burning building and screams for help. If you disagree, you’re a racist.
In short, a nation that’s founding was on the very idea of objective moral truth, cannot stand in a relativistic world.
So what do we do in light of this? What does a pastor do in light of this?
Outcry. The screaming over the death of a loved one.
One option is outcry. We can scream and yell at the wind because something has died. This is a real option, although it is a fruitless one. Screaming at the wind changes nothing. Building still burn, liberty still gets restricted, relativism is still actively poisoning our world. But people still engage in this. We still scream at the wind and think that if we scream loud enough, it will change directions.
We are sadly mistaken. The wind pays no mind to us. It just does what wind does. It blows right on by.
So what do we do in light of this? What does a pastor do in light of this?
Crying out to God. The only apropriate response.
We can either scream at the wind, or we can cry out to God. The fact of the matter is that there is still objective truth. God is God and God is the one who determines all. He is the judge of all creation. He is the one who is still on the throne. He is King. And what He says is true. Scream all you want, what God says is true. He made the universe. He is God.
Because of this, we can cry out to God with full confidence. He is in control. And this in not a catchy bumpersticker or tattoo. (although I wish more Christians had this tattoo so as to never forget it is true). He is the ultimate judge and we will answer to Him. All people will answer to Him. The rioters who burned buildings down and incited anarchy last year will answer to God for their crimes against Him. The anarchists who stormed the capital this year will answer for their crimes against Him. Donald Trump and Joseph Biden will answer for their crimes against Him. You and I will stand before Him as well.
Because of this, we must cry out to God. We can scream at the wind all we want, but crying to God is the only response that makes any sense whatsoever. We as people must come before the Lord of All and beg forgiveness. If we don’t, there is only one option.
Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth.
The rejection of God will result in eternal hell. The clear message of scripture is that those who reject Jesus Christ will be damned to hell. This is the truth. This is a place that is described as the weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So how does a pastor respond to all of this?
Preach the Word.
As a pastor I am to preach the Word. That is the mission. We are to present the Word of God. We are not to present anything else. We are to present the Word of God. The current events of the world and our nation have in no way changed this directive. In fact this is more relevant now than ever before. The very nature of objective truth is under massive attack. In response to this we must not present mere anger or opinions or blind adherence to a candidate or group. In response to the poisoning that is the removal of objective truth from our society, we must PREACH THE WORD. The clear objective message of the gospel must clearly be heard today.
The mission has never changed. Arguably times of turmoil have strengthened the call to stand for the truth of the gospel. People are hurting. They need ministers who are bold in declaring the truth of God's Word. The most hateful thing we can do is feed the false ideology of relativism. We must love our sheep enough to teach them the truth. Proclaim the Gospel. I beg of you.
Pastors, if you are preaching anything other than the clear objective word of God from your pulpits, you are failing your church and God. You should step down. Preach the Word.