In the first installment of Alias Christians, we observed
a generation so saturated in technological satire, mobile connection, blue-tooth hotspots, and the newest iPhone, that people who identify as “Christians” are compelled to consider the way their time is spent. An “Alias” was defined as falsified lifestyles to give others an impression of a life that isn’t there—consider it a fake ID. It’s usually a way to present ourselves to others with the exact measure we choose, likely withholding negative subdivisions in our lifestyle— interchanging parts of our personality and character we wish for others not to see. Consider Facebook, for example. We can choose to be selective about what our Facebook friends see about our lives, only uploading those things which add to our persona what we want to be added. Likewise, technology has often become a crutch to loving people as Jesus calls us to (Mk 12:30-31, Jn 13:34-35, Mt 22:37-40, Lk 10:27). It may even become the very excuse that drives us not to love at all. We can often live our Alias lives more than our actual lives; we can even create double-lives, acting one way on one interface, and a different way entirely on another.
In this second part of Alias Christians, we’ll consider the Alias of “Silence.” More to come.
Last night as I lay in bed, thoughts consumed me and my heart was stirred. The evil in our world seemed to become larger and more illustrious as I considered recent events. On Wednesday, August 26th, Bryce Williams killed himself after shooting and killing reporter Allison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward on live television. He used a Go-Pro device to record the killing from his own perspective, which was later uploaded and circulated virally. ABC, who received messages from Williams prior to the shooting, says Williams claimed to have purchased the gun two days after the Charleston shooting, which is what “put him over the edge.”[i]
Of course, we are all familiar with the events surrounding the Charleston shooting in June. 21-year-old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine praying victims at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, hoping to ignite a race war. My intention is not to mindlessly remind the world of hurts and pains, but to emphasize the evil in the world.
Many, if not likely every person reading this exclaims, “How horrible! How could anyone possibly do such a thing?” Why is that our response? I completely agree that these events, like so many others, are tragic and monstrous, a product of a consuming evil so prevalent in the world today. But why is it horrible? Is it because it’s wrong? Why is it wrong? This is the question that perhaps constitutes the end of reason; this could be when the answer becomes, “It just is wrong.” For some, this will suffice. But for many, this will not do.
The Alias of Silence, much like the Idealistic Alias described in part 1, is defined as the loose expression of an ascribed set of beliefs, often expressed as an integral part of life; a set of values depicting the actions we take based on the doctrine we subscribe to; with little to no evidence, support, or reason behind the belief, resulting in silence against opposition. Simply, the Alias of Silence is having little to no founded reason or logic to support what is contrary to what you define as truth.
This happens to be the foundation of what is called truth relativism. In short, truth relativism is when two people’s truth-values contradict one another. “My truth is true for me, and your truth is true for you, and that’s okay.” However nice this may sound, truth relativism (or cultural relativism/cognitive relativism) is logically impossible, or absolutely impossible. Absolute impossibility hinges on the notion that truth is exclusive, or that what is true is true, regardless of subscribed beliefs, faith, or reason. Simply, what is true does not depend on someone saying it is. For example, gravity exists even if I don’t believe it does. Likewise, gravity did not come into existence once we discovered it existed. We simply discovered that is already was. It existed completely, in its entirety, before anyone knew it. Likewise, it did not exist any more after people came to understand it. It simply was and is.
So it is with God. For those who subscribe to believe in God, the notion that God exists and is true is the case regardless of who does or doesn’t say it is. Truth is objective—the implications being that all things not true are false, and that all things true are by virtue true, and truth functionally true for all, not by subscription or lack thereof, but by necessity. The very axis truth is derived by must be bound by a logical axiom that is assumed and universally adopted. It is intellectually dishonest to state that truth is only subject to he who believes it is true. What is true for you must also be true for me, lest we construct a fallacy of what is a logical truth, for if what is true for you is not also true for me, it is by nature false—it is not true by virtue, it is only true by subscription, and thus cannot be absolutely true. This logic drawn out means that saying “I’m a Christian,” means pronouncing, “God is the true God.” On the surface, this is exactly what we all believe. But what is the logic behind this declaration? Logically, it’s that every God or belief not founded in the one true God that you believe in is false. That is what saying “I believe in the one true God” entails. It entails that any and every belief in any and every god or higher power that is not exactly the one true God you profess belief in is false.
What does this wordy logic mean for us? As apologist Ravi Zacharias states in his book Jesus among other Gods: "Truth cannot be all-inclusive. Truth by definition excludes." And to approach similarly, "What I believe, I believe very seriously . . . By equal measure, anything to the contrary, I must question" (x Zacharia, emphasis added). And thus the Alias of Silence comes into play. Insofar as we profess a belief in one God, an exclusively truthful God, so we profess the same measure of truth in everything we believe to be true. Is this how we regard the truth by which we draw our own faith? Do we question everything contrary to what we believe is true? “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6 HCSB). Jesus’ claim of truth was exclusive. To paraphrase what Jesus said: “If you believe in any name other than that of Jesus, you cannot go to the Father.” This is what is called a universal negative. For B to occur, A must absolutely occur. In this case, B is going to the Father, and A is going to Jesus. Without A happening exactly, B cannot possibly happen. Just as the truth of Jesus is exclusive, so is the reason we have for believing in the hope we have, as is the declaration of the Word. To presume that one hundred people can read one verse in the Bible and come to one hundred different conclusions means that there isn’t one truth behind the scripture. But we know this can’t be, as the Word is referred to as “truth” in so many contexts. (Jms 1:18, Jn 17:17, 2 Tim 2:15)Truth must be objective and exclusive. This means there cannot be hundreds of “interpretations” of the same text that are all true. Either one is true, or all are false.
Likewise, the truth claims of Jesus and the word are very clear, and mutually exclusive against other world religions and other beliefs. Notably, what is most clear is that truth is exact, and belief in the truth compels a response to those things that are contrary to the truth. So, with the Alias of Silence, as seen in the response to the two tragic shootings referred to above, silence to a belief or lifestyle contrary to your own accepted values may be due in part to the lack of belief or understanding in what you believe to be true. When we come to deeply, unabashedly, completely believe in what we believe, we accept it as complete truth. The possible steps following are:
That anything contrary to the belief is false. Or
Whatever is contrary to the subscribed belief happens to be true, and your own belief is false and must be altered. Either way, there can never be contradicting truth statements.
What does this mean for our world in this day and age? Statistically, there are over 4,200 worldviews worldwide. I choose to use the term “worldview” instead of “religion” because “religion” no longer adequately encompasses the countless sets of beliefs and philosophies that exist in the world today.
In the 4,200 worldviews, approximately 31% affiliate with some form of Christianity. (~23% Muslim, ~16% Unaffiliated, ~15% Muslim, etc.). Among those that identify with Christianity, there are over 40,000 denominations. It’s my personal belief that many of the 40,000 denominations must believe the exact same thing, but with different “titles.” However, in 40,000, there must be countless variations in opinion, many perhaps being issues pertaining to the salvation of souls.
Many atheists use the above statistics to explain away a God. Why would God not communicate the truth more effectively? If there truly were a God, there wouldn’t be so many contradicting beliefs regarding his Word. My response is that it isn’t God’s fault that so many people believe so many things. It’s the Christian world’s fault. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 HCSB). It’s our job to correctly teach the truth of the Bible. Ineffective and poor communication of the truth is not God’s fault, but ours.
The solution to a society plagued with untruth is obsessive, continuous, and passionate study of the Word of God. We cannot teach something we don’t know, and we should never haphazardly accept truth in something we haven’t researched and wrestled with for ourselves. The encouraging news is that the world wants the truth. The world is open to change, and God wants to use Christians to alter the eternal paths of human souls. Teaching someone else the truth comes first with us knowing what the truth is. Only then can we adequately lead someone to exclusive, objective, Godly truth.
The challenge now: What do you believe is true? Often times we react to the evil in the world, saying, “That’s wrong.” Why is it wrong? I’m not saying it isn’t wrong, but I am saying it is important to know why we react the way we do, and to understand the truth behind a reactions. Read the Bible and learn to understand why you are reactive to a hurting world. When we understand the why behind the reaction, we can begin to effectively teach a world that is starving for the truth, the only truth, the objective, exclusive, Godly truth.
For more reading on apologetics, see below:
Also, helpful books to read are:
Jesus Among Other Gods, Ravi Zacharias
Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis
Compelling Evidence for God and the Bible, Douglas Jacoby
Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith, Alister E. McGrath