Truth and Truth-Tellers Part 1
It’s been all over the news the last couple of days. It has consumed the airwaves, the morning shows, and the late night comedy routines. You can read about it here. What did Hillary Clinton actually experience when she visited Bosnia so many years ago? Was she, in fact, under sniper fire when she landed on the tarmac as she recently claimed? Was she delusional? Was she having a little too much fun on Air Force One just moments before she landed? Was she simply mistaken about the details? She says that she “misspoke” because she was tired and exhausted during that particular press conference. But can one “misspeak” on multiple occasions and the excuse still be legitimate? If you know me that well at all, you probably know that I care very little for the world of politics (although I do take seriously Romans 13), and you can probably tell that this is simply a great lead-in for me to broach the subject at hand. You got me. But there is something serious going on within the landscape and framework of America, exemplified perfectly through Clinton’s little charade this week, that can’t be overstated.
I find it ironic that the very week this news breaks, I am reading Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias. (What? You don’t see the irony? No, I haven’t been visiting my pot-rolling neighbor’s house. You’ll catch the irony in a moment. Visit Tasha’s blog here if you are totally in the dark concerning the marijuana comments I just made. After you read it, give us your advice. But that’s another issue for another blog post.) Ravi writes concerning the issue of truth and it’s relevance in the public square. He argues that individual ethics and personal and subjective feelings have replaced the notion of absolute truth, a fact easily verified by simply turning on the evening news. In illustrating how far our society has come from embracing the notion of unchanging truth, Ravi revisits the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. (Hence, the irony to which I earlier referred.) He says:
In our moral contradiction, an amazing cultural mood was uncovered. The president’s famous line that “it all depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is,” sent reporters scampering onto the streets with the question of the century: “Do words have a fixed meaning, or may we give them any meaning we choose?”(What could encroach upon itself more than purveyors of words inquiring if words have any meaning, while using words to ask the question?)
To the utter “surprise” of the surveyors, most people seemed to agree that words can sometimes mean different things to different people, assuming, of course, that there was no equivocation in meaning as the question was posed and the answer given.
That prompted the next question: “Is morality an absolute or a private matter?” The overwhelming response came back that morality is a private matter. These two questions became the lead-in on a CNN news report. First, that words only have personal meaning. Second, that morality is a private matter. Ironically, the third item on the news was that the United States had just issued a stern warning to Saddam Hussein that if he did not stop playing word games with the nuclear inspection teams we would start bombing Iraq.
Suddenly, words did matter. We would not let Saddam write his own dictionary. We would not let him live by his own ethic, but we could let each of our citizens determine the meaning of the words they used and insist that our morality is no one else’s business (pp. 116-117).
Words do matter. Truth does exist. Tomorrow I’ll expound on our responsibility as followers of Christ (Truth-tellers) in a world that lives like truth is dead.