Column: Hope for a world where truth always prevails

Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster
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The year 2016 has managed to punch truth in the face.

According to the Oxford Dictionary the word of the year is ‘post-truth’.

It means that now there are circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal ideas. I really fear for our society. Is this the demise of honesty, ethics and responsibility? Is there not a danger that post-truth thinking may become a smokescreen for lying?

How many of us would accept financial advice, or buy a car from someone who was a liar? Would we seriously consider marrying someone who doesn’t speak the truth?

My hopes for 2017 are that truth will fight back with its twin sister grace.

Over Christmas you may well have been at a carol service and heard the famous reading from St John’s Gospel. It reminds us that the child born at Bethlehem came full of grace and truth.

Truth is so important. When I was at university I switched my courses so that I could study the bible.

People were telling me things but I didn’t know what evidence they had. I wanted to see if this ancient book held water. These accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, how genuine are they?

Well the more I studied and looked into them the more convinced I became. In Jesus the truth of God can be found, trusted and followed.

Yet I am the first to agree that truth can be over serious, austere and sometimes harsh. Hence we need alongside truth a gracious character. Grace is a softer, gentler virtue. It reveals a kindness of heart and a giving, generous nature. Where else can you find a character so full of grace and truth? Only Jesus is a safe guide for our lives.

So how can we live truthfully in 2017 in a post-truth world? I suggest that we acknowledge that we are engaged in a battle of truth and lies. We need to determine that from now on we will speak the truth.

We may well need forgiveness and cleansing for the lies, insinuations, half-truths and gossip that we have indulged in. May we in 2017 both love the truth and speak the truth. May we be part of a society where truth is valued and where the lie is despised.