Saturday, January 26, 2013

Truth Vs. Imagination

The truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

In all human activity, how much effort is spent getting at the truth! At the crime scene. In the courtroom. In the research lab. And on and on, even to the replay official's booth. We want the truth and won't stop till we get it.

A theory of relativity.

But in realms of philosophy, ethics and religion--the very disciplines that can help define who we really are--we're now told to forsake the traditional approach. In something akin to trading in the scientific method for a public opinion poll, we're asked to abandon our quest for objective truth (which can set us free), and rest on a spurious footing of feelings and preference. Oh yes, we'll still use the word "truth," but with a new definition. My truth is what's "right" for me, and yours is what's "right" for you.

Tolerance? Yes, but...

Clearly, in a free society we tolerate individuals, their preferences, and their lifestyles; but with limits. Limits are imposed on certain actions by individuals and groups to protect the safety and dignity of others. If you believe in the concept of crime, you know that one's own preference toward committing murder or theft cannot justify murder or theft. And if you have a proper sense of reality, you know that murder and theft are not curbed by gentle thoughts, a nice environment, or ...well, imagination.


Imagine there's no courtroom
It's easy if you try
In streets walk no policemen
Crime's heyday long passed by
Imagine harmless people, living for today

Yes, it's easy if you try  ...until you face facts. Nowhere since Eden (in its early days) has there been such a utopia, nor is it conceivable ...without the eradication of evil from the human heart. In the meantime, we need laws and enforcement of some sort.

Imagine there's no illness
It isn't hard to do
No HMO's, no research
And no morticians too
Imagine all the people, living endlessly

It requires us to suspend what we know from everyday observation and experience, but yes, we could choose to imagine it. And since we're having fun...

Imagine greater freedom
In the NFL
No clock, no rules, no sidelines
And no officials too...

Just sayin'...

And now in making my point, I may have become offensive, so I ask for tolerance. Maybe I'm abusing the spirit of John Lennon's words, or making him a straw man. That's not the intent. I don't deny the quality of his poetry or the sincerity of his ideas. But if he was at all serious about the song's propositions--no heaven, hell, countries, religion or possessions--and its conclusions--tranquility, peace, and brotherhood--then we should be able to apply his logic elsewhere. By now we should have been able to successfully bring about greater freedom and gratification simply by imagining a result and joining together in agreement. In response, someone says, "It's possible; we just haven't done it yet," to which I reply...

Back to Reality.   Please.

Rather than bringing greater peace and freedom, a denial of truth--specifically truth about good and evil--opens a door to disorder and destruction. For that reason, I find the following verses easier to imagine than either Lennon's or those above.

Imagine there's no courtroom
It's easy if you try
In streets walk no policemen
To gangs we must comply
Imagine all the people looting every day

Imagine there's no health care
It isn't hard to do
No HMO's, no research
Morticians busy too
Imagine all the people dying needlessly

Imagine greater freedom
in the NFL
No clock, no rules, no sidelines
And no officials too
Imagine all the chaos of this once-great game

The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart

If recognition and application of truth is necessary in the realms of law, health and sport, how much more in those of morality, ethics, and spirituality, where the root of the problem lies. The drive in the human heart toward peace and utopia is countered in that same heart by the drive to have one's own way, in his own way. The words of Jesus Christ cut through the haze, as he says, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."

Hope for mankind?

Desire, imagination, and poetry can be helpful, but don't have power in themselves to change reality. They may inspire us to make our own lives better, but we're severely limited. The truth is, man is flawed, fallen, and needs help. But that truth alone cannot set us free. It must lead us to One with the power and willingness to help. There is one who claimed both attributes, and supported the claims with real evidence, the Lord Jesus Christ (see John 5:30-39; 8:28-29; 10:14-18; 11:39-45). Repent and trust Him today!

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36


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  2. Cye Gray January 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM
    I became a Christian in 1971 which is just about the time "Imagine" exploded on the music scene. Evangelical Christianity had been in a decades long retreat from involvement in culture so it is not surprising that we failed to take John Lennon seriously as the formidable counter theologian that he was. We seemed at best amused over the fact that the rock music we warned each other to stay away from was, in many cases a full frontal assault on Christianity. Sadly we realized belatedly that our very civilization was hanging in the balance.

    Rather than engaging Lennon and others like him as you have done here and seeking to provide better answers to the problems of society he raised, we continued a policy of strict separation and leaving the world's problems to the world. After all, Jesus was coming soon so all the injustice in society--the war in Viet Nam, civil rights and every thing else people were in such an uproar about would no longer matter. All we needed to do was preach the gospel and everything would be fine.

    Obviously, things are not so fine after all. Lennon got much of what he imagined for us by sheer default and now there is no place to hide. When we pull into a parking lot at the mall, there is every possibility that our wives and children will be assaulted by boom boxes from nearby cars where Lennon's heirs exalt the joys of [deleted] and smashing the faces of [deleted]. There is a steep price to pay for being on the losing end of a sexual revolution.

    I have long since renounced the policy of retreat from culture and thankfully I am not alone. But it does bother me that so many well meaning people who have begun to get involved seem to do little more than ridicule the other side. Sure, there is plenty about their message that is illogical and even absurd but we should give credit where credit is due. Unlike us they showed up for battle. And did I mention they beat the snot out of us? All in spite of the fact that we have an infinitely superior view. While we are down like this we need to be long on respect for our opponents and short on ridicule because there is a whole new generation of artist-evangelists seeking to cement the victory of humanism ever deeper with their songs and movies. Again the minds of millions are in the balance.

    Take "The Hunger Games",for example. There can be no question it is having an impact on a slue of people. Do we trash it or worse still, ignore it because Jesus is coming soon? Or do we take it seriously enough to watch it with our minds engaged and try to give a persuasive Christian perspective on it when it is being talked about around the water cooler? As a matter of fact I would love to read your take on it or any other current popular song or movie right here.

  3. Thanks, Cye, for the insightful comments. I share your concern for our mistakes as Christians and for the current perils of society, and I agree there is some relationship. I hope this discussion helps me and you, if no one else. Thanks.