Which do you think is more dangerous? A complete, total, and blatantly obvious lie? Or a lie that draws us in because it is veiled in a partial truth?
Samuel P. Huntington famously said, “Partial truths or half-truths are often more insidious than total falsehoods.” And there, I think, is the answer to the question.
Last night’s Grammy Awards were once again an amazing spectacle of talent and production. God was certainly imaged as human beings infused with the imago dei exhibited their God-given creative talents by making and performing culture. And the culture made and performed generated glory. Where talent was exhibited God was glorified simply by the fact that one of His beings had created something that we could consume. He was glorified where truth (after all, all truth is God’s truth) was communicated, whether that truth was communicated with intent to communicate truth or not. . . where that truth was meant to point to the one true God or not. These are things that we always need to keep in mind and which we should always celebrate.
But I do believe that for the thoughtful, informed, wise, and discerning faithful follower of Jesus Christ, there was also cause for grief and heartache. Art speaks loudly to a watching world. Today’s musical icons are not just performing. They are also teaching. They map out life, teaching a worldview that we are encouraged to believe, embrace, and live out in our everyday comings and goings. Sadly, much of what we see in today’s art are mentions of things like God, love, freedom, grace, and justice. But when the artist decides to self-define any or all of these and other realities above and beyond the one true God’s definition of each, lies become attractive and seductive. . . drawing us in because they use familiar terms to distort and redefine important things. So when God, love, freedom, grace, justice, and a whole lot more are drained of their meaning when thrown into a musical soup that leaves us applauding while saying, “Hey, he/she did sing about God, after all!”. . . well, then we’ve lost our ability to discern with clarity.
And this, friends, is why we need to be constantly filling our souls with the truths of God’s Word, embracing every moment we can to sit under sound and Godly teaching, and anchor ourselves in community with others who do the same. James calls us to “establish your hearts.” Our hearts will be established whether we choose to consciously establish our hearts in something meaningful and true, or if we just let the establishing happen.
Christian Smith is right about “Moralistic, Therapeutic, Deism.” It’s the faith of our times. But its “god,” its doctrines, and where it leads are certainly frightening. That’s why great talent and partial truths should scare us even more than an out and out lie.