5 Ways the Church Can Counteract Fake News

5 Ways the Church Can Counteract Fake News

While “fake news” emerged as a political phenomenon during the 2016 election, lies have been masquerading as truth since the beginning of time. Christians should be encouraged our postmodern, post-Christian culture is having a conversation about truth as something that can be known, identified, and sorted out from lies. I see this as one of the best opportunities in our time to introduce people to the One who is Truth.

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  • 1. Be people of Truth

    1. Be people of Truth

    Students of the Bible are familiar with a character known as the father of lies. He trades in deception and he is the adversary of all that is authentically good, beautiful, and true.  The father of lies perverts our thinking. It is his oldest tactic and once his hooks are set in a human mind, changing that mind requires liberation from literal shackles of sin and death. People, following the lie and the liar, become convinced that what God has called good is not good. They grow confused about human identity, Creation, sexuality, and morality.  People are also deceived into exchanging the truth about God for lies, and truth itself is perverted.

    Christians are charged with representing Christ to this culture, here and now.  

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  • 2. Know the Truth

    2. Know the Truth

    The Truth is: 

    • Not just any god, but God
    • Not just any way to salvation, but Christ the only way
    • Not just any words, but the Word of God

    Why should anyone believe us? How do we establish trust, earn the right to be heard, and speak The Truth in a culture where the father of lies has so many operatives?

    As Christians, we should be among the most concerned that Truth triumphs. Our lives become living demonstrations of the goodness and beauty of the Gospel. And that leaves no room for deception or deceit. If we want people to trust us, we cannot traffic in lies. Can you be trusted to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? If we can’t be trusted to be people of truth in some areas of our lives—then our witness for Christ is compromised.

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  • 3. Learn to identify the lies

    3. Learn to identify the lies

    Each generation faces its own set of imposters.  If we imagine them as pageant contestants parading their ideas before us with the goal of attracting us to their way of thinking, we can see how some of the competitors are vying for attention and affection today. Here are a few examples from my book Speak the Truth:

    Miss Nomer: She knows God has a name, but she finds pleasure in name-calling that reduces God to something less mysterious, less majestic, and less holy than He really is.  She likes to nickname God with functions, attributes, metaphors, or names that leave open the possibility that God is a mere metaphor.    

    Miss CharacterizationShe presents Christ as something other than He is and contrary to what the Bible reveals Him to be. She doesn’t like that Jesus is revealed to be the eternally co-existent second member of the Trinity because she doesn’t like the God revealed in the Old Testament. So, she presents Jesus as distinct and disconnected from the Father.  

    Miss UnderstoodShe’s more victim than villain. She’s a member of a church and reads Christian bloggers and she sees nothing wrong with participating in Mardi Gras, Sunday morning soccer leagues, or supplementing her faith experiences with alternative approaches to spirituality.

    Those half-truths and outright lies lead people to believe things which are not true about God and they become captive to the father of lies. They mistrust who God is, what He has done, what He wants, and why He matters.  The role of the Christian then is to confront and unmask the caricatures of God masquerading in the culture.  And to replace them with living demonstrations of the fullness of the Gospel so the world may know who God really is.  

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  • 4. Reach out in truth

    4. Reach out in truth

    What do we do when we encounter falsehoods on the street or in the sanctuary? We follow the counsel of Scripture. Jude 17-23 says:

    But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. [Emphasis added]

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  • 5. Take biblical action steps

    5. Take biblical action steps

    Jude tells us to do a few things:

    1. 1. Remember the apostles’ teachings. Recall the truth and rely upon it. 
    2. Recognize falsehood: scoffers who are following their own ungodly passions.  You recognize them because they cause division in the Body of Christ, they are worldly people, and the Spirit who lives within you recognizes no bond of peace with the spirit of the world in them.
    3. Rely on God.  Faced with the reality of false teaching and false teachers, we need to be built up in faith, prayed up in the Spirit, upheld by the love of God, and filled with mercy—not anger.
    4. Reach out in truth.

    And yes, that means we can’t turn tail and run when this litany of worldly pageant participants comes at us on the runways of life.  Jude characterizes it as staying close enough to the false teaching that some might be snatched out of the fire of their destructive ideas.  And how are people attracted away from the often mesmerizing flames?  By the truth of the Gospel and the excellence of our lives.  Yes, we stand at all times ready to offer a defense for the hope in us, but we also simply live such good lives among the pagans that when the world sees us—even as we are maligned by its leaders—people actually see the fruit of love among us and are drawn away from darkness to light.

    In her brand new book, Speak the Truth: How to Bring God Back into Every Conversation, (Regnery Faith; $25.99; September 25, 2017) Carmen LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee and radio host of The Reconnect with Carmen LaBerge, challenges the Church to bring God’s viewpoint into the difficult conversations of today, and equips readers with the arguments and strategies to engage and combat the aggressive arrogance of those who seek to silence all viewpoints but their own.

    Adapted from the excerpt "3 Ways the Church Can Counteract Fake News."

    Used with permission.

    Publication date: October 5, 2017

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