RELIGION: Does it really matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere?

The short answer, of course, is that it isn’t, and it does–but the pervasive, unarticulated philosophies underlying this question are significant. Post-modernism is a late-20th century movement characterized by subjectivism, relativism and skepticism with regard to truth (as opposed to the objective, reason-centered seeking of the enlightenment). Post-modernism argues “there are no objective truths,” but because this statement is itself a truth assertion, it is possible to reason with someone who holds post-modern views.


The newer phenomenon of post-truth philosophy, together with a culture awash in expressive individualism, has divorced belief entirely from reason and relegated it to the unanchored realm of feelings, preferences or emotions. A post-truth culture recognizes that objective truths may exist, but it judges them irrelevant or calls them false. Someone with a post-truth mindset may think, “Objective truths exist but I don’t care– my feelings and preferences matter more,” or, “Objective truths exist but I deny them– they don’t support my agenda so I am justified in lying about them.” This kind of thinking is almost impossible to reason with.


It’s not uncommon today to hear people speak about God in terms of how they’d like him to be. For example, “I like to think of God as a loving, universal spirit, who isn’t bothered about how we worship him or what name we call him.” This may sound kind and tolerant, but if God is not as described, that belief is more than unhelpful–it’s actually harmful. God is not a character in a story we are writing. If the Bible is true, we are characters in his story! He made us in his image, and we don’t have the liberty of making him in ours. Us defining God as we imagine him to be would be like Harry Potter defining J. K. Rowling. Rowling created  Harry; not the reverse. Without her, he simply would not exist. She decided on his green eyes (like his mother) and his messy, dark hair (like his father). She gave him his strengths and weaknesses. Like Harry, we exist because our creator brought us to life, not the other way around.


The current “sea” that both post-modern and post-truth adherents swim in is a culture that places ultimate value on expressive individualism: the belief that the definition and fulfillment of an individual’s identity is the highest good, and that individuals possess the capacity to define the terms of their own existence by defining and asserting themselves. This “sea” of expressive individualism is evidenced by popular catchphrases like, “You be you,” or “Find yourself” or “Follow your heart wherever it goes.” But when forms of authority are rejected and individual “authenticity” is valued above all else, chaos eventually ensues. Relationships break down. Anarchy advances. Communities disintegrate. Souls are lost.


Finally, the idea that “sincerity” trumps truth breaks down when it’s pressed to rational ends. For example, you can sincerely believe you possess the ability to fly, but if you jump from an airplane at 13,000 feet with no parachute, your sincerity will not save you. The Bible’s claim that there is one creator God is like that: it’s a claim to universal truth that is not dependent on what anyone sincerely believes or thinks. It’s either true, or it isn’t. And if it is true, the creator God has given us everything good that we have and he is the only one who can save or judge us–whether we believe in him or not.


Supporting Scripture  

John 14: 6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”


Acts 4:10-12

10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy.

11 This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone.

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.


Episode Excerpt

Video Segment: (0:00-0:30 ) I can think of this time at school where we were together with a group of friends. And there was this one girl -she doesn’t share my same views – and she tells me…I really don’t like Christians. I’m not really offended by that, you know? I understand her point of view. Just like me, she probably sees things I don’t agree with in the media. And she probably hates that. I get it – so I’m not upset with her for that, but she’ll ask me certain questions. “Why is Christianity the ‘only way’? Don’t all religions lead to God? I think faith is just a personal thing.


Notable Quotes

“Ironically, the insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself. It holds a specific view of God which is touted as superior and more enlightened than the beliefs of most major religions. So the proponents of this view do the very thing they forbid in others.” ~Tim Keller


Additional Resources to Explore

>>What is Expressive Individualism?


>>Go to the Religion episode