What is Truth?

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

By: Casey Korstanje

My youngest brother is a magician.

I mean that in the “hand is quicker than the eye, now you see me, now you don’t” illusionist sense. It’s a hobby he has enjoyed for going on 50 years. And he is good at it, very good.

I have seen him pull a rope through his body, float cards out of a deck, fly a hanky around the room, move coins without touching them, and bend a spoon with his mind.  There’s always a trick. I know he is manipulating me, but I rarely catch him out.

He likes close-up magic, where he does things right under your nose, and all you can do is smile and scratch your head.

His primary audience is the mirror in his basement or my brothers and me when we get together.

We were having dinner a few weeks ago, and as is his style, he quietly set a small box and a pack of matches on the table during dessert.

“Okay, we are going to burn some cards, and you will decide what burns and what doesn’t.”

He holds up an imaginary deck of cards, turns to brother #3 and says, “there are number cards and face cards. Choose.” And then he strikes a match. Brother #3 frowns, thinks and then says, “number cards.”

“Right, number cards.” He blows out the match and says, “they are gone.”

He turns to #2.

“In the face cards, there are males and females. Choose.”

“Men,” says #2.

“Right, you’ve burned them.” He lights a match and dramatically blows it out. Then he turns to me. “There are four queens left. You can save one of them.” He lights a match. “Diamond, heart, spade or club. Choose.”

I think, “he thinks I will default to heart so I won’t.’ ‘Diamond,’” I say.

He blows out the match and then hands me the little box. And, of course, inside the box, I find a crumpled, partially scorched Queen of Diamonds. I carefully examine the box, but it’s just a box.

Magic is, of course, about manipulation. It is insisting one thing is true when, in fact, something entirely different is true. The essence of this trick is guiding your audience along unwittingly to the goal you have in mind.

“There are number cards and face cards. Choose!”

Two lies in a row. There weren’t any cards at all, and it didn’t matter what you chose.

“Choose!” Number cards. Right, they’re gone.

“Choose!” Face cards. Right, you’ve saved them; the number cards are gone.

We live in a world where we are daily overwhelmed by manipulation and deception. This phenomenon has a name: post-truth.

Post-truth is you and I agreeing that a thing is true without demonstrable fact. It is frightening stuff. In a post-truth world, nothing is solid, nothing is safe, nothing is obvious, and nothing is true.

Many argue that post-truth is a new social movement, a reformation that will set you free.

Not true.

Post-truth is the “oldest trick in the book.”

Genesis 3:1

[1] Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Post-truth corrupts and enslaves.

Isaiah 59:14

            [14] Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away;

            for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.

So how do we survive in a post-truth world?

I commend you to the Word of God.

John 8:31–32

[31] So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, [32] and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (ESV)

Abide in his word, and you will know the truth.

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