A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called, “No wonder people don’t trust Christians” where I related a lie that Christians like to tell. To be honest a great many Christians spread lies and don’t even know it. Some of the lies are innocent, like the rope tied to the priest’s ankle when he went into the holy of holies on yom kippur. You might believe this is a Biblical truth, but unfortunately it is just a cool idea that isn’t found in the Bible or any other ancient Rabbinic texts. The first time it shows up is around the 14th century, long after the Temple was destroyed. Other lies are more malicious, like claiming that dinosaurs are all part of an Atheistic conspiracy.
Of course not all Christian buy into the lie and it seems that generally the more flagrant the lie is, the fewer people hold to it. I really don’t know anyone personally that believes the dinosaurs were planted by scientists to corrupt the world so I feel pretty good about the people I know. I do know many who have believed other lies until I was able to show them proof of the truth.
The question I asked two weeks ago was “why do we believe these lies?” I got a lot of great answers and I believe there is truth to them all. Generally I would say we believe and spread lies because we don’t know any better. If I give my children an apple and tell them it is an orange their whole life then they will call and apple and orange. Of course it doesn’t make the apple into an orange and they will be mocked in school when they look at the flash card for “A” and loudly call it an orange, but it wouldn’t be their fault.
There is a reason why Paul says that people should not seek to be teachers and why Peter says we will be judged more harshly. It is our responsibility to find truth and to teach that truth. The problem is, straight up truth can be a hard sell, or at least that is what we think. Look at the news. They don’t just report the news they make it sensational because facts don’t bring in the dough. In pulpits around this country preachers are looking for the next great illustration, something to grab the congregation and fill them with awe. Monday morning the preacher reads about the not so scientific find I spoke about 2 weeks ago and it seems the prayers have been answered. No time to fact check just enough time to build a sermon around this nugget. The problem is, the nugget was only pyrite and not real gold.
I cannot blame the population at large for believing and spreading lies. We judge truth by the authority that spoke it. If you pastor says something is true then you are likely to believe him unless something of greater authority (in your mind) contradicts that truth. Some call this laziness, but in all honesty it is the human state. If a teacher proclaims a truth that you cannot verify on your own you will believe it even if it isn’t true.
This bring us back to the teachers, the authority that should bring truth. I fully lay the blame on them. In the case of the lie I spoke of before, it was printed in a Christian text book. This is not acceptable. It should not be preached or written by those tasked with keeping the truth. If we fail to fact check something and it turns out to be a lie then we are responsible.
Now I understand that there are times when a pastor or teacher might fact check only to find out later that the cited sources are bogus. This is the simple truth, if we mess up even through no fault of out own then we need to set it straight. That is the burden of authority and it cannot be shirked.