What is truth? Tension filled the room as Pontius Pilate’s words peeled back the layers of the human condition. An accused Jesus is standing before Pilate on trumped up (no pun intended) charges of insurrection. Pilate offered the interrogatory in response to words Jesus just uttered. “For this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37b).
Ironically, the answer to Pilate’s question that day stood before him bound. Centuries later that answer has now been unleashed in the hearts of millions. Because, ultimately, truth isn’t about a what, but a who. Jesus stands over and above the world declaring “I am truth.”
Christians know Jesus as the way, truth, and life, but culture asks us to capitulate and live as “law-abiding” citizens in a new post-truth world. For some believers, given the already scary prospect of sharing one’s faith, this new world could drive the duty of evangelism deeper into practical atrophy.
Last year the assault on truth was stunning. “Post-truth” was named Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 word of the year. Americans witnessed a tension-filled presidential campaign where truth-telling took a back seat to statistical errors and talking points. People shared fake news articles that hardly met the lowest levels of journalistic integrity. The world is changing rapidly, embodying this post-truth ethos. Christians can’t let that change when and how we share the gospel. The world might be changing, but the gospel has not.
Which begs the question: What does evangelism look like in a post-truth world? Not much different I hope. At its core, evangelism is declaring the truth of the gospel to a world asking (either explicitly or at a heart level) Pilate’s poignant question. So I’d like to offer a few reminders on approaching the task in a post-truth world.
John C. Richards, Jr.