I keep hearing about, and seeing reports of “Fake” News. Even the term “Fake” News is somewhat misleading–is it news? Is it False News? Is it “fake” because it never happened, or because it has been exaggerated or taken out of context? Or because it doesn’t say what I want it to say? How do I know what is “real” news anymore?
The biggest problem with “Fake” news is that it “feels” real, true, and important. In reality, it may be none of those things. Yet there if often a kernel of fact, or a dusting of truth that makes it hard to disprove or dispel. And, if it had already been accepted as legitimate news by thousands, it’s even harder to stop it from being spread.
But the more insidious problem with “fake” news is the time wasted trying to sort truth from fiction, and plain fact from exaggeration and distortion. If my friend sends me an article, or a video, or a photo, I may accept it as true on the strength of my friendship. But what if they’re just passing it on from another source? What if I see it from a recognized news source? Do I dare question it? And if so, where do I turn to verify it? There are several fact-checking websites, but even they have biases that cause them to weigh facts differently in various situations. Whatever assumptions we used to hold about “neutral” reporting have been proved wrong. We are being conditioned to trust none of what we hear and less than half of what we see!
What about the “Good” News that Christians carry into the world? Is it like the “Fake” news we see on TV or read about on our tablets? And if someone challenges our faith in God’s word, how can we prove that the Gospel is not “Fake”, and that our Faith is not just more hype with smoke and mirrors? If we are pursuing prayer, shouldn’t we be confident that our prayers are not in vain and that our faith is sound?
The claim of “Fake” news makes an assumption that there is such a thing as “True” news. Similarly, saying the Gospel is “Fake” assumes that there is an alternate truth. But the real burden of proof is on those who want to push for the alternative. The truths of the Bible have been time-tested, and shown to be real. The challenges I hear most often are to the exceptions, not the rule. I don’t hear anyone saying that “Thou shalt not steal” is a “fake” morality. Instead, I hear that, “Christianity is fake because I know Christians who cheat and steal.” I don’t hear people claim that “it is not morally wrong to kill.” Instead I hear them justify exceptions. “I’m not promoting abortion as a good thing. I don’t think it’s right to kill another human being, but this is just a fetus, and anyway, I’m just protecting a woman’s right to her own body.” “I don’t think it’s ethical to force someone to stay alive if they are in pain and they want to die.” “You can’t go around just killing anybody, but I think it would be better for everyone else if ___________________ (insert the name of a group– Down’s Syndrome children, Jews, Sunnis, Hutu/Tutsi) didn’t exist.” “I don’t believe the morals found in the Bible are wrong. I just don’t think you need to believe the rest of it to “be moral.”
People point to single passages, single verses, even single words to “prove” that the Bible is racist, sexist, intolerant, and promotes violence. The Bible includes many examples of people NOT following God’s laws, and yes, the results are grisly. And there are difficult passages when God calls for a wicked city to be destroyed completely. Critics are not wrong to point out that the Bible is not about perfect people behaving perfectly. And the same Loving God who frees the slaves from Egypt is the God who destroys Jericho, and Sodom and Gomorrah. Taken out of context, these few examples may seem to cast doubt on the authority of God’s word. Yet the same critics who pound away at the same few examples in the Bible discount hundreds of instances of historical events that highlight human sacrifice, genocide, mass infanticide, slavery, torture, and all sorts of other evil that occurred without the Bible’s influence. Moreover, I hear a lot about claims against “Christians” who fought in the Crusades or owned slaves–I hear a lot less about Christians who worked to end slavery and the slave trade, or Christians who founded universities, charitable institutions, or brought revivals that sparked decades of social progress throughout countries and continents.
I don’t hear many people claim that there was no such person as Abraham, or King David, or Solomon, or Nebuchadnezzar, or Pontius Pilate or Caesar Augustus. But they want to deny the historical reality of Adam and Eve, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Apostle Paul, who are found in the same Bible. Why? Because if Adam and Eve are real, there must be a creation and a creator. If Jesus really lived and said the things that are attributed to him, we must deal with the claim that he was Messiah. If the Apostle Paul really lived and wrote his letters to the churches of Asia Minor, we must deal with his claim that he encountered the risen Christ and his life was dramatically and eternally changed.
However, there is a “Fake” gospel– Good news that doesn’t match the Biblical account–a “Fake” Christ that only said or did or “would do” what we want him to say or do; a Christ that isn’t holy or righteous, but just loves us because it’s the “zen” thing to do; a Christ who is without power to save or to sanctify; a Christ who is without mercy and loves only those who look the part or say the right things. How do you spot a “Fake” Christ and a “Fake” Gospel? Get to know the real ones of the Bible. You’ll soon be able to spot an “imposter.”
“Fake” News will always fail the test of time and the challenges of real evidence. Good News will transcend the test of time and the challenges of faulty evidence.
Christ Has Died, Christ Is Risen, Christ Will Come Again! THAT’s the Good News!