BIBLE VERSE FOR THOUGHT
Do not despise prophecies, but test everything: hold fast to what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5: 21, ESV
No, kids! Americans are not stupid. Go surfing in the waves of educational data and walk away confused by the statistical results and opinions presented by scholastic experts. I mean, don't forget the context thing. Like most other questions posed on such a broad scale, it depends on who you ask. So, let me cut to the chase. Our topic is fake news. If we're not intellectually short-changed, why is fake news such a big deal in our communication systems? Some would presume that believing and transmitting fake news is prima facie evidence of a lower intellectual capacity. Not me. No, basically, we're just uninformed. And, the information super highway that delivers us so much bogus data is the same expressway that can give us the final answers.
Of course, my basic context is a Christian worldview. Scripture is always the final answer in determining my basic approach to life. And, what to do with fake news is a consistent theme in the Bible. You see, people of faith in redemptive history have always been expected to recognize what is false and what is true. Over and over the authors of Scripture were inspired to warn readers about being deceived. Yes, I know the context is usually about the dangers of believing false prophets, priests, and teachers that may threaten biblical belief systems. Those people lived in a real world too, with cultural influences, political intrigue, economic systems, philosophical schools, relational challenges, and all of the other side-bars of human drama. In all of it, however, they were expected to identify falsehood and resist it.
Fast-forward thousands of years. How can I resist the lure of the juicy tidbits so available on the information super-highway, especially the fake ones. Here's a start---
1. Pray for wisdom.
In a broad sense wisdom is what we do with our knowledge. In Scripture practical James wrote, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5, ESV). Fake news is a complex reality, Ask God for the wisdom to recognize and ignore it.
2. Know your personal values and beliefs.
Everybody has a personal worldview, that is, a system of values and beliefs. Each of us should know those basic ideals that guide us. Confused about yours? Click here for a simple explanation of the the prevailing worldviews by the people at Ligonier Ministries.
Knowing our most cherished beliefs is foundational to testing everything.
3. Be informed.
It is amazing to me how many people are unaware of what is going on in our world. This is especially true in testing the accuracy of received news. We should know that the information super highway bringing fake news into our communication systems can also be our guide to the truth about that news. There are many sites that specialize in
verifying news stories. Click here for a great article from Bridgewater State University with a listing of these sites. More simply, just Google the news stories that you receive.
4. Be accountable to someone.
Accountability partnership is a dynamic spiritual discipline. This involves having time with someone to coach and counsel your growth, especially in keeping commitments, reaching goals and aspirations, and deciphering what is happening in the world around us. This person should be someone you trust that shares your worldview. Remember Solomon's counsel---"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, ESV). Another set of eyes is always useful when reading the news.
The truth about fake news is that it can be recognized if we choose to be informed. More tomorrow.