Selecting the word of the year is a self-assigned role of the Oxford University Press. The word for 2016 is “post-truth,” meaning “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”  In other words, truth is less important than how you feel about it.

They cite the Brexit vote and the U.S. election as evidence, which might be a bit ideological, implying that facts were ignored. The raw campaign rhetoric makes me disinclined to stand for office since, well, I shoo my cat off the kitchen table.  My opponent could claim I hate furry pets and should be locked up as an animal molester.  Not much less absurd than post-truth spin from the 2016 campaigns.

The first time I noticed post-truth was Dan Rather’s blunder that led to his resignation from CBS in 2004. While acknowledging the false evidence behind his story about George Bush’s National Guard record, he insisted “that didn’t change the truth of what we reported.”  Unproven belief became truth.

Response to science can be post-truth. Medicine tells us that a fetus is alive, genetically independent, and human, yet only her mother is a person with inalienable rights to life.  Cosmogony offers interesting hypotheses for the origins of the universe, yet the evidence of an intelligent First Source must not be considered.

Apparently a culture disconnected from truth is intolerant, assumes evil motives, and prefers ad hominem over constructive disagreement. It claims to be pluralistic, embracing all truths and voices.  Yet without realizing the illogic, it excludes those who know contradictory claims can’t all be true.  If disagreement means harm and requires safe spaces, we are raising a crippled generation unable to think critically.  For our own good, the Bible urges us not to mistake the truth of God for a lie (Rom 1:25).

Vince Vitale, Director of the Zacharias Institute, observed that since Jesus is the truth (Jn. 14:6) and God is love (1 Jn. 4:8), then truth is love. One implication is that withholding truth to avoid a disagreement is not loving, and neither is a caustic argument about it.  Disagreements can be loving and respectful. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you…write them on the tablet of your heart” (Pr. 3:3).

The truth matters about our world, our country, and ourselves. You can spin, twist, bend, and bury the truth, which is what happened to Jesus.  Yet the truth lives to set you free from whatever binds you from the life and eternity God planned for you.  He has revealed truth in creation, in the Bible, and in our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We who embrace faith in the only One who makes sense of this world can never be post-truth.

Thanksgiving 2016

We are a nation divided. National election results are so close to 50-50 that polls cannot predict the outcome.  Both sides ask the question, “How can they even conceive of voting for that person?”  Americans are frustrated over sharply different philosophies of government.  Our most notable disagreement in history resulted in the horrific Civil War.  Our response now can be well informed by what Abraham Lincoln did then.

Writing to various presidents for 15 years, Sara Hale lobbied for a national Thanksgiving observance on a fixed date. Lincoln agreed with her.  On October 3, 1863, 74 years after George Washington’s first thanksgiving proclamation, and juxtaposed with the Battle of Chickamauga and its 33,000 casualties just two weeks prior, Lincoln called for a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November (later changed to fourth Thursday).

His 500-word proclamation still rings true. Lamenting that Americans are prone to forget the source of our blessings, he listed them beginning with “fruitful fields and healthful skies.”  Despite the War, “peace has been preserved with all nations.”  The War had not “arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship.”  He noted increased development and population, the productivity of mines and industry, and the growth of the nation.  “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”

Lincoln also urged “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience” and petitions for “all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strive.” He closes with a call to pray for “the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.”

Americans are still blessed for what we have, and for evil things that were not but might have been. We need forgiveness for the perversity of our times, and compassion for the defenseless and less fortunate among us.  But above all thanksgiving implies a source, and Lincoln rightly understood that we thank the Most High God and submit to His purposes for our nation.

The current strife has many faces. Riots in the streets.  Pejoratives on our tongues.  Anger on social media.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  When we see the “Imago Dei” in one another, we cannot harbor such acrimony.  If Lincoln could find reason to be thankful, surely we can.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!  For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good (Ps. 107:8-9).


An off-duty policeman in the city was enjoying his day off. He walked down to the corner coffee shop for a wakeup brew.  He glanced around as he was about to enter, and suddenly sprinted to the curb to grab a blind man about to step into traffic.  “Thief!” the blind man screamed as he swatted the policeman with his cane.  Nursing his bruised pride, the hero said he would do it again.

I recently heard Os Guinness observe that culture has “re-branders.” The term describes an effort to redefine something as other (thief) than intended (hero).  Professor Michael Rectenwald at NYU knows about this.  His anonymous blog criticized the safe spaces and trigger warnings that coddle students and their social justice ideas.  Now, he no longer teaches because what he called academic freedom, they called incivility.  I call it political correctness.

It’s anachronistic to label what happened in ancient Babylon as P.C., but it fits. Four young Hebrew men with names that reminded them of their God, were exiled to a foreign land and renamed to obscure their past allegiances.  They were re-branded.  Yet Daniel and his fellow believers continued to live out their faith in the one true God even when facing the lion’s den and the fiery furnace.  They went along until their consciences stopped them.  Forced uniformity has its limits.  Remember Orwell’s “1984”?

Lurking about is a movement to re-brand religious freedom as bigotry, making the First Amendment a sword instead of a shield. Martin Castro reported for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that efforts to protect religious freedom is really a cover for discrimination, and must be curbed.  Is it far-fetched to consider this a proto-threat like the prohibition Peter faced, “Do not speak in name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18)?

The passive Christian response is to syncretize our faith with whatever the culture embraces. Responding to the recent Hatmaker controversy, Rosaria Butterfield wrote, “Sin and Christ cannot abide together, for the cross never makes itself an ally with the sin it must crush, because Christ took our sin upon himself and paid the ransom for its dreadful cost!”  Will we rename what God says is sin to blend with a culture that desperately needs redeeming?

Christians bear the Name of the One who loves all sinners and offers the gift of abundant life. Even if P.C., re-branders, and government reports hit us with their canes, we will still reach out in love, again and again.  People can embrace or deny Truth, but they can’t change it.  May the Name of our Lord Jesus be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God (1 Thes. 1:12).

Hip Hop

Our cities are in trouble. America’s pathologies are concentrated in its urban centers, evidenced by murder and mayhem, heartbreak and hopelessness, crime and corruption.  Politicians don’t seem to be changing anything but I recently heard something that just might.

I was at a conference to hear how Christians can respond to our changing culture. But never in a million years did I expect to hear rap music!  Perhaps it is tragically too easy for some of us to look away from a segment of culture that seems like a lost cause.

Emanuel Lambert, from Philadelphia, explained that rap music and the hip hop subculture express the deep frustrations of the inner city. He notes that this culture has many painful and tragic questions that too often become sad headlines and crime statistics.  Voicing the questions can build a bridge of understanding, across which can travel some truthful answers that can set a life on a new trajectory.

Mr. Lambert is a rap artist known as “DA’ T.R.U.T.H.” He is a committed Christian with 20 years in the music industry as an award-winning artist.  He is well-connected in the hip hop community and recently formed the entertainment company NXT Sound.  He also knows Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist and evangelist, and invited the 70-year-old native of India to speak on his recent album, “It’s Complicated.”  Oil and water?

In the selection “Religion,” the rapper poses the question, “Are all religions equal, can we even know?” in the voice of the ‘hood, and Dr. Zacharias offers answers. In rhythmic cadence he asks, “Did I blindly believe when I got a Bible to read?  Then I got down on my knees as the one way to God.  Dropped down to plead, a total waist of my time? Is his name a lie, or is his name Allah?  Is it really important, the right name or not?”

Then Dr. Zacharias answers, “Pantheism doesn’t teach the same thing as theism. Monotheistic beliefs are not all the same.  What Islam believes about Allah and what the Christian believes about the Triune God are two different things.  All religions, at best, are superficially similar, but they are fundamentally different.”  The song responds with, “How many paths to God?  If it’s one I’m taking my steps.  We are all on a journey together, and I know that there’s a God out there that can make my eternity better.”

The next time your stopped car vibrates at a red light, the culprit could be truth. Chanted Loudly!  A small price to pay if it changes lives.  Mr. Lambert is convening a meeting soon to introduce other artists to Dr. Zacharias.  If that begins to transform the hip hop community with truthful answers, America will be a better place, a reason to hope!