Misinformation or Inconvenient Truth?
Posted on June 10, 2021
By John E. Thomas
Misinformation is a common word these days. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive.”
At first glance, social media giants seem to consider misinformation a serious threat. They go after it full force.
But is misinformation really the reason behind their decisions to hide or remove posts?
More important—who decides what “misinformation” is?
If two scientific studies come to opposing conclusions, which is right and which is wrong? And if someone comes to an entirely different conclusion—what gives anyone the right to tell that person they aren’t allowed to think that way?
The Foundation of Our Freedom
The government of the United States was founded by a group of people who were tired of being told what to believe and how to live.
In England at the time, one group of leaders believed that the Pope had the right to decide what was good and appropriate for the masses.
Another group believed that the king or queen had that right. (Many in this group identified as Protestant leaders. King Henry VIII had separated from the Catholic Church because they wouldn’t annul his marriage and allow him to marry his mistress.)
Others believed that the local church should make decisions for the people, and finally, some believed that the individual had the God-given right to decide for themselves.
So many people vying for the right to tell others what to think and how to live. Combined with the tyranny happening in the colonies, this struggle for control became the catalyst for revolution.
Our founders decided that no one should be able to force others into a certain worldview, so they set up principles essential to a free society.
Principles such as the freedom of religion. The government had no right to tell people what to believe. The big battle at the time involved the Protestants and Catholics. To protect this freedom and the principle behind it, our founders didn’t specify Protestant or Catholic, Church of England, Presbyterian, or Congregational. They just said “freedom of religion.”
To keep the government from setting up a new Church of England and calling it the Church of America, they called for the separation of church and state. The state had no right to govern the church, decide doctrine or practice, or require certain leadership roles.
To stop the government from squashing its accountability to the American people, the founding fathers set in place the freedom of speech. The government had no right to tell people they couldn’t say certain things because that is how oppression always starts—by silencing any questions about the way things are or should be.
Our founders operated from the assumption that individuals had the capacity to discern for themselves. The communities they lived in would, as a group, listen to those who had wisdom and ignore those who didn’t.
What Happens When Power Is Abused?
In a society built upon these principles, the idea of anyone deciding, “This is misinformation!” is preposterous.
It doesn’t matter if something is true or not. If the person has no right to communicate their thought, as crazy as it may be, then someone else has become the “holder of truth.” Some person or entity has seized the authority to decide what is okay to believe and what is not.
This abuse of power can happen only when leaders believe one of two things:
1) They know they are imposing unwise requirements and are afraid of losing power and influence if people start to question them. This causes them to silence anyone who disagrees so the nation remains in deception. If the truth gets out, deception begins to lose its allure. Of course, some people will give up truth to feel safe, to get what they want, or to avoid dealing with truth’s pain.
2) They believe the people are too ignorant to figure out what is true or false on their own, so they have to protect them from anything that might be false. This supposed benevolence is actually an insult. “You clearly aren’t smart enough to do this for yourself, so we will do it for you. We are so much more intelligent than you, and we will keep you from proving how stupid you are by not allowing you to see anything but what we decide is true.” Fear falls into this category.
Obviously, these are faulty mindsets. In both cases, the people in charge are clearly trying to deceive and subjugate the masses, and they’re using deception to maintain control. Leaders can become so proud that they step into self-deception and begin to scorn those they lead.
It doesn’t matter who makes these decisions—leaders whose power comes through political positions, financial prowess, or force. Media outlets that use their strength of voice, corporations that use their technology or money, spiritual leaders who use their pulpits.
No matter the source, this is abuse.
Rise Above the Noise
If we allow others to have the right to decide what is true for us, what recourse do we have when they’re wrong?
If they can decide which medical study we listen to, which political opinion we believe—when will they start to make decisions about our religious ideals?
What if those filtering the information decide it’s unwise to believe in God? Maybe they say He can’t be proven scientifically, though some clearly disagree. Or perhaps they start saying that people who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture are “intolerant” and the Bible is “hate speech.”
Who decides what is true?
Whether the suppressed information is actually misinformation or inconvenient truth, we should have the right to listen to it if we want to. That is the gift our founders gave us.
As a people, we need to grow in wisdom so we aren’t caught up in emotionalism that leads to deception, sinful desires that blind us to truth, or witty arguments that veil understanding.
We need to grow our spirits so they, connected to His Spirit, rule over our souls. He’s the One who shows us what we think, what we want, and what we feel.
Only then will we have the discernment to rise above the noise and be a voice of true wisdom.
Be a Voice of Wisdom
The world lacks wisdom, and the church is supposed to be that voice. In this season, we need to discern the source of our words and say only what comes from God.
Truth will be revealed one day. As our Savior said, “Wisdom will be justified by her children.” The outcome will show what is truly wise.
One day every nation and kingdom will be swallowed up by the King and His kingdom. He will split the sky and make all wrongs right, establishing His throne in Jerusalem, and all the nations and rulers will bow. Truth will be seen as truth.
Until then, we fight for justice and stand for truth. Not for the sake of political positions or opinions, but for the sake of TRUTH as revealed by the only One who knows what is really true and what is a lie. We represent Him, and He gave us His Word to stand on.
Governments, leaders, and all those in power will answer to Him for how they lead, and you and I will answer to Him for how we live. I don’t get to use my leaders as an excuse for my choices when I stand before His throne. “They told me I had to do it this way!” No. I alone am responsible (Rev. 20:12–13).
The responsibility of each individual before God. That’s the foundation of our country.
The government has no right to tell anyone what to believe, and all their rules about how to live cannot violate the righteousness God communicates in Scripture.
No person gets to put themselves between anyone and God. One Mediator, and only one, holds that position (1 Tim. 2:5).
Display God’s Wisdom Through Your Life
We, the church, have allowed the world’s fascination with noise to influence our thinking. We assume that if we just yell louder, people will hear us.
But it doesn’t work that way.
People may not listen immediately, but if we hold to our path and prove our wisdom by the fruit of our lives, they will begin to hear us. As we walk every day in the fruit of the Spirit, clinging to the ways of God, we present an attractive alternative to the ways of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
Let’s take a stand for the freedom God has given us and use all the powers in our grasp, according to His ways, to fight for others to have the same freedom. For those who desire wisdom, this is the freedom to choose life, but for the wicked, it is the right to choose death. God gave each person that freedom, and each person will live or die according to how they use that freedom.
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