Are you speaking a personal boutique truth or the truth?January 11, 2018
A 24-year-old woman who built an online following of more than 300,000 fans with posts about makeup and home decorating took Oprah’s Sunday night Golden Globes challenge to “speak your truth” to heart. Tana Smith has transformed her YouTube channel, Tanamontana100, into a truth speaking platform.
The shopping/make-up tip vlogger says, “The reason to speak your truth is to help people and be more connected, and create more of a sense of oneness and community,” said Smith. And then added, “It’s not about being right.”
Is that true? What is truth if it’s not also that which is right, correct, accurate, truthful?
Therein lies the challenge for postmodern and even post-truth people. They want to define and describe truth as defined by their own experience or ideas but then remain morally flexible enough to allow for you and everyone else to speak whatever truth aligns with their personal experience, ideas, aspirations or even imagination.
This is the path to the destination of utter meaninglessness. You cannot meaningfully communicate if the word truth doesn’t even hold true.
Truth is that which accords with actual reality. It is one of the transcendental virtues (Goodness, Beauty and Truth) that characterize God and God’s original design. It is thus also the character of Christ. Jesus says of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” So, truth not only has knowable parameters, truth has a name.
The idea that we could each individually “speak our truth” but not share an understanding of what truth means is nonsense. Yes, nonsense – no sense, without meaning, foolish.
As Christians who are actively seeking to discern and apply the mind of Christ to the matters of the day, are called to speak the truth always. Ephesians 4:15 says, “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.” Note that the Bible does not say what Oprah said, “speak your truth.” The Bible calls us to speak THE truth and to do so in love.
The challenge we’re facing to define, describe and live in truth is not new. Since the days of the Garden people have been exchanging the truth about God for the lies which satisfy some human desire. Romans 1 describes it and the Biblical writers confront it, but lots of Christians remain ill-equipped to speak the truth in ways that honor Jesus.
Francis Schaeffer noted the disconnect from the truth in America more than 50 years ago. In books ranging from Escape from Reason to How Should We Then Live, Schaeffer addresses the issue of truth over and over again.
Schaeffer juxtaposes the foundational presuppositions of Christianity against those of humanism – which is the worldview on display when Oprah and Tana speak a personal truth that may or may not necessarily have any connection to the reality of truth as an absolute. If man, or in today’s America, woman, is the measure of all things then truth, justice, morals, meaning, dignity and beauty are all defined by the experience of women and men. Think about that assertion for just a moment.
The Bible asserts, conversely, that Goodness, Beauty and Truth are defined by God and from them flow absolute standards for judging truth from lies, justice from injustice, morality from immorality, beauty from ugliness, good from evil and right from wrong.
The fruit we’re seeing in the culture today – from misunderstanding of identity, dignity, life, relationships, you name it – is fruit growing from vines rooted in relativism. The myth of human autonomy is one such fruit. But so too is the idea that Oprah could speak her truth, Tana could speak her truth, you could speak your truth and I could speak mine and truth itself would then be understood.
The truth is, that’s not truthful.
For more on this subject and to learn about ways to engage our culture with THE Truth, check out Speak the Truth: How to bring God back into every conversation. Available now in hardcover, Kindle and audio versions.