Friday, February 24, 2012

Truth or Popularity

What's the price of popularity?

That can vary, of course, according to how popular something is.  But even if something is extremely popular, that doesn't always mean the popularity is justified, does it?

After all, my blog is proof that popularity is not the ultimate arbiter of truth!

Not that I'm never inaccurate or that my opinions are always sound.  One time on FaceBook, I was participating in a lively exchange on some topic (which was so important I can't remember it now) and the FB friend whose post started it all commented on my "opinion."  I immediately shot back that my contribution to the debate wasn't an "opinion." 

But nobody else found that very humorous.

Christ:  Just the Facts

The only person who ever walked the Earth who never had an opinion was Jesus Christ.  Everything He thought and spoke was - and is - ultimate truth.  Unadulterated, uncompromised, unchangeable truth.  In fact, since He created all truth, He couldn't have an opinion, because since He knew everything, nothing was open to interpretation.

Even though He had no opinions, Christ wasn't very popular, was He?  Even though He spoke utter truth, that's not what most people wanted to hear.  Even Pilate, who asked Christ rhetorically what truth is, didn't really want to know Christ's answer.  Which provides us a reliable metric regarding truth and what's popular:  they're not necessarily the same thing.

Democracy, for example, is a virtue many Americans vehemently endorse.  Some evangelicals even go so far as to say that democracy is the political system God most strongly advocates, since political freedom seems so similar to spiritual freedom.  The problem with assuming such a correlation, however, comes when you confuse the mortal fallibilities of human decision-making with God's divine right to save His people from their sin.

Throughout history, most of Christ's followers have not benefited from our American version of democracy, yet the Gospel is still with us today because it is true.  It has not been eradicated, despite plenty of sociopolitical attempts to do so.  Isn't that amazing?  Obviously, democracy is preferable to atheistic totalitarianism, but it's not necessary for the truth of the Gospel to prevail.

Democracy Doesn't Always Support Truth

That fact should give us hope, but it doesn't, does it?  I suspect that's because we still want our faith and all of the great stuff we enjoy as Americans.  But ironically, just as we benefit from democracy, which is based entirely on popularity, the very foundations of that democracy may be falling apart as Americans vote on popular issues without considering the ultimate truth behind them.

Democracy could end up killing itself.

Unfortunately, democracy isn't so much the ability of a majority of people to make good decisions as it is simply preferable to risking leaving all the decisions up to one person or a small group of unaccountable people.  This means that even though more people support a specific political agenda than those who oppose it, that agenda may not be what's best for the population.

Truth matters, even if it's not popular truth.

If we evangelicals dwelled less on partisan bickering and championed truths we can't deny - whether we think they help or hurt our standard of living - then at least we'll know that if popularity drags America off of a cliff, Christ's truth will still be here for us.

Christ's truth:  our salvation - as if we thought there was any other.
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