Since that time, I have heard it more and more often; and many times coming from within Christian circles. Ok; so it has happened enough now, that I felt like I wanted to write about it.
I remember several years ago the phrase “everything is relative” was a popular answer or comeback to many situations. We would hear, “Oh, it’s all relative.” I never agreed with that statement either, but I caught myself saying it one day while in conversation with my dad.
I will never forget the look on my dad’s face. He held his piece though; never said a word. Maybe he quietly uttered an “hmmm”; but I knew without a doubt that I had said something really stupid and it was contrary to what my dad had always taught me.
Anyway, so now society has taken it one step further, and is determined to have us believe “Perception is reality”. In other words, my reality is not your reality; my truth is not your truth. There is no black and white, no absolutes.
That my friend, is not Scriptural; so why do we have Christians so quickly and easily identifying with this philosophy? And why is no one bothered by such an oft quoted mistruth. The philosophy is “relativism” at its finest –simply brought to us in new packaging. Blending grays in world views. (John 17:17 - just for starters.)
What we are being told is that there is no reality beyond ones perception or belief. That’s scary. We are being told that there are, in fact, two realities. One is the physical reality, consisting of that which is tangible, our five senses, and scientific facts. (Hmmm…)
The other is relative and subjective reality; i.e. that which pertains to our experiences and how we perceive things. Our beliefs, intentions, and knowledge would be more of this type of reality - something that can be debated or discerned. Reality is malleable; ever-changing and conforming as society changes. Really? Kinda leaves out the truth of the Bible, doesn’t it?
“Our truth”; “our reality” is connected to us like a “fingerprint”, proponents of this belief say. This kind of thinking brings us close to the belief that we must be “true to ourselves.” Hmmmm – the Bible says we should die to ourselves. (1 Corinthians 15:31; Galatians 2:20; John 12:24)
Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t care how we are perceived by others. Or that there is no need to worry about what others think of us. Of course we should. We are instructed in Scripture to live so that others will want to live like us. To be lights shining in darkness. (Matthew 5:16) In that regard of course we should care about others’ perception of us. But that is a completely different subject than what we are talking about here, though without understanding one could mistake the two meanings.
I wondered where in the world this statement even had its origins, and how did it come to permeate a section of the Church. On a Google search, it was revealed it was once said by Lee Atwater – political consultant and Republican strategist; Dr. Phil is also credited with saying: “There is no reality – only perception.” And of course Richard Stearns used this theme throughout his book The Hole in the Gospel. I’m sure one could find a multitude of people that have quotes on the subject. Obviously none of these are original sources.
This ideology has been around for generations, and the root is probably found in what is known as Skepticism. The founder of this philosophy was Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360-272 B.C.) So yes, it’s been around awhile. Why is it making its way into the Christian church today? Pyrrho believed there should be no judgment on any worldview, because none was better than the other. No opinion; no good or evil; nothing can be proved, so don’t believe anything you see or hear. All truth is only based on ones perception. It calls for inaction because there is no clear right or wrong. So how can we comfortably act for or against anything? (Hmmm) That, I believe, is the most dangerous aspect of this belief if it were to begin to permeate the church. Even my own research for this blog-post helped me realize why this philosophy is rearing its ugly head at this time in our church history. Promoting inaction and complacency are important tools in grabbing the hearts and minds of those one seeks to dominate.
But come on, Christian. Let’s think for ourselves. Let’s do a little critical thinking and ponder what we are being taught before jumping on the latest trend that moves through our churches. Yes, little, trendy, Christian fads (for lack of a better word) have always filtered through and weaved themselves among the Christian community, actively popular for a while. The Prayer of Jabez would be one such example. Maybe the misquoting of Genesis 31:49 – “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.” - would be one more example. The “prosperity movement” would be an example on a larger scale of societal views creeping into the church.
However, I tend to believe this small, but inaccurate statement has the potential to do more damage to our faith than anything else has in a while. I believe I have only skimmed the surface of all that this belief system entails and the repercussions from it of which we could endure. I kind of felt the need to do what I can to help expose it – at least as far as I am able.
"Jesus Christ - the same yesterday, and today, and forever."