7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel in a Post-Truth, Post-Fact Culture


Regardless of where your politics lean, many would sense that American culture is quickly becoming both post-truth and post-fact.

It’s happening right before our eyes.

Don’t like the outcome of what’s happening? Claim it never happened. Bothered by what the data says? Offer your own data, even if you have to make it up.

The rise (and influences of) fake news and the rapid polarization of opinion across every platform is staggering.

If you’re alarmed by the shift, you’re not alone.

For a whole host of reasons (I list several below), the stakes are high. Probably higher than most of us think, both personally and for the church.

The depth of the change is hard to see, but I think it’s deep and dangerous.

Whenever you’re in the middle of a passage from one phase of history to the next, you never see it clearly. It’s too easy to drink whatever color of Kool-Aid you prefer, only to later learn that you’re dying. (The people who followed Jim Jones might agree with that.)

Fortunately, the church has a unique role to play in it. Play it well, and everyone (including the culture) wins. Play it poorly, and it could end poorly for everyone—us, our kids, the church, our countries, the world.

So how did we get here? What’s changing? And most importantly, how should you respond?

I don’t claim to see it perfectly at all. I offer these words in the hope they help.

So, some thoughts that I hope might help those of us who are Christians regardless of our political leanings.

Truth Is Not Personal

Since the 1960s, you’ve seen many challenge and reject the objective nature of the Gospel (one God revealed in Jesus Christ who extends an invitation to all) to embrace a far more subjective spirituality:

What’s true for you isn’t true for me.

God is whoever you define him/her/it.

My spirituality can be customized to suit me, just like my meal at a restaurant.

Maybe the subjectivism of spirituality caught on because it’s harder to prove that something we can’t see or touch is anchored in objective truth (even if it is). Spirituality was one of the first widespread casualties of post-modern thought’s attempt to de-couple ideas from objective truth.

But that same logic has now infected so much more.

In the emerging culture, truth is no longer just subjective or objective, it’s personal.

Don’t like something?

Great. Tell everyone it never happened. Explain that it doesn’t exist. Just spin your version of the story long enough until you’ve constructed your own personal universe of what’s real and what’s not.

Why face reality when you can deny it instead?

This explains the rise of fake news and the shift in reporting that’s happening as we speak. What’s true on Fox News no longer appears to be true on CNN or NBC.

Don’t like what any of them are saying? Just make your own version of the story. Start your own site or take to social media, use the ALL CAPS key and spin it any way you want.

It seems the combination of a deeply divided culture, the proliferation of new media, and social media available to billions means everyone is attempting to twist truth until it confirms their own bias.

Worse, so much of it is done simply to get more eyeballs on a platform.

All of this should make us shudder.

After all, the most dangerous form of deception is self-deception. A short study of history will show you that self-deception easily becomes mass deception.

The most dangerous form of deception is self-deception. Self-deception can become mass deception. Click To Tweet

The Demise of Civility Matters

There should be a deep mourning and concern over the death of objective truth, because with it comes the erosion of civility.

Objectivity pulls us beyond ourselves. The things that are beyond us are the things that save us from ourselves.

When a culture, for example, decides that murder will not be tolerated, that assault is punishable or that theft is a crime, it puts the brakes on our selfish and impulsive emotions.

Human nature, after all, has a dark side. You and I have probably both felt like punching someone or taking things that didn’t belong to us. Occasionally, we might even wish that someone we don’t like had a shortened life span.

What keeps us from acting on our impulses other than self-control (which is often so weak…. pass me the potato chips please)?

Objective truth. The idea that somehow murder, theft and violence are wrong.

Also saving us from ourselves is the knowledge that if we do something offensive to a widely embraced standard, we will suffer for it. A fine. Jail time. Social shunning.

This is good, not just for us, but for our country.

But the logical extension of a post-fact, post-truth world, is this: who says I’m right and you’re wrong? Who even said it happened? I didn’t. That’s just you saying I did. And you’re wrong.

For thousands of years, we humans have tried to keep ourselves from ourselves. Surprisingly, the Gospel has fueled much of that. Because when you die to yourself, something greater rises.

The rise of self as the ultimate arbiter of truth is antithetical not only to the Gospel but to the very basis of civilization.

Civilized people think beyond themselves. They care and they give. They put themselves second, or third.

It sounds hyperbolic to say civilization is being threatened. But maybe it’s not hyperbole.

Why love your neighbour when you can attack him? Maybe the attack never happened anyway.

When you die to yourself, something greater rises. Click To Tweet

Confession is One of Our Most Important Disciplines

Who knows what people pray about these days? You and I aren’t privy to what God hears.

But my guess is that he’s hearing fewer confessional prayers than he used to. In a culture where truth has died, we don’t have to be sorry for much.

After all, if you create your own truth, there’s no need to confess anything. The most extreme iteration of this is that you’re not wrong, God is. If you think that’s far-fetched, just scan the headlines.

It’s truth that helps us see falsehood. It’s the right that helps us see the wrong. And when what’s right is whatever we define it to be, well, we’re always right.

Even when things don’t go great for us, it was never our fault anyway. We were victims. We’re just misunderstood, and one day everyone will see how right we are.

At the heart of confession is this idea that you and I are not the ultimate arbiters of right and wrong. Confession acknowledges that we are flawed, that we make mistakes, and that we’re accountable.

We are not the author of what is right. Rather, we are subject to it.

Jesus never asked us to confess the sins of our enemies. He told us to confess ours.

Listen to the public dialogue. Watch social media. The death of confession has led to the rise of the opposite of confession: blame and accusation.

Jesus never asked us to confess the sins of our enemies. He told us to confess ours. Click To Tweet

We’re All Accountable to Someone Other Than Ourselves

Also entering the endangered species list is accountability.

If you listen to the current public dialogue, few people seem willing to be accountable to anyone other than themselves.

I’m right. Everyone else is wrong.

So there.

Rethink that.

If I become the arbiter of truth, then I’m not accountable to anyone. Not to you, not to others. Not even to God.

If something doesn’t go my way, I don’t need to take responsibility… I can just blame someone else or hold others accountable.

I just don’t need to be accountable.

Do you see where this takes us?

Think about what that does to those of us in leadership. Leadership is a trust… it’s a stewardship. We hold our positions on behalf of those who don’t. We’re accountable to others. Even more than that, we are accountable to God.

It’s easy enough these days to create your own tribe. To surround yourself with people who say what you want them to say. Who give you only what you want to hear.

But think about this.

The leaders who take accountability seriously rarely have anything to account for. Those who don’t, do.

The leaders who take accountability seriously rarely have anything to account for. Click To Tweet

What Christians Can Do

The Gospel is perhaps the very best antidote we have to the current cultural turbulence.

In many ways,  as American culture slips further and further away from its Christian underpinnings, the Gospel is poised to play its rather familiar role in culture as a prophet.

The role of a prophet is to help the culture clearly see what truth, God, and life are really all about. The Gospel is also the home to all real hope.

Historically, the role of the prophet has been a bit of a miserable role. The prophet is rarely understood, seldom embraced and often rejected by his or her own generation. Jeremiah was exiled. John the Baptist was beheaded. Deitrich Bonnhoefer was executed just  two weeks before the second world war ended.

The Gospel:

is anchored in the idea that truth (and even love) is objective and available to all.

calls us to die to ourselves so that others may live.

values all people.

calls us to confess, to repent, and to put something bigger than ourselves above ourselves.

If the church starts to mimic culture in this seismic shift we’re seeing, we will tear ourselves away from the very thing that will save us.

The Gospel calls us to put something bigger than ourselves above ourselves. Click To Tweet

So what can you do as a Christian or a Christian leader? Here are a few closing thoughts and suggestions.

1. Anchor yourself to what’s true

There is an objectivitiy to truth, and love doesn’t just reside in us, it’s greater than us.

Resist the temptation to define your own reality.

2. Stop the spin

Don’t get caught up in the vortex of your personal opinions or anyone else’s.

Be dead honest… tell the truth.

3. Confess your role in it

Reality is not what you want it to be. You aren’t what you want to be. Confess it. Address it.

You may not be the whole problem, but you definitely are part of it. So am I.

You’ll never address what you won’t confess. So confess your sin.

You’ll never address what you won’t confess. Click To Tweet

4. Embrace love

Remember that on the other side of confession is forgiveness.

Christians believe that truth and love are fused together. And in that, is hope.

If your truth doesn’t look like love, it’s not truth.

If your love isn’t anchored to truth, it’s not love.

When Christ is truly present and working in your life, truth and love are never separated.

The Gospel is the antidote to a post-truth, post-fact culture.

The objectivity of the Gospel functions less like a sledge-hammer (I’m right… everyone else wrong) and more like an anchor (in this storm of uncertainty, let’s tether ourselves to what’s true).

If your truth doesn’t look like love, it’s not truth. Click To Tweet

5. Keep some distance from your political positions

God is not a Republican, a Democrat, a conservative, a liberal or a socialist. He transcends all our political categories, however important they might be to us.

Politics matters, but it will never change the world the way the Gospel can (or has).

So how much distance should there be between you and your politics?

Just know this: if God has all the same opinions your political party does, you’re probably not worshipping God.

If God has all the same opinions your political party does, you’re probably not worshipping God. Click To Tweet

6. Love people who oppose you

The tribalism that’s emerging (I only hang out with people who look like me, sound like me and agree with me) directly threatens our ability to value people different than ourselves.

Jesus said our faith would not be characterized by how deeply we love our friends. It would be characterized by how deeply we love our enemies.

Hung out with any enemies lately? Not to argue, but to listen? To love?

If your version of the Gospel doesn’t include loving your opponents, it’s not the Gospel.

If your version of the Gospel doesn’t include loving your opponents, it’s not the Gospel. Click To Tweet

7. Hope.

Of all people, Christians should be the most hopeful.

Our hope comes from outside any system or person because it comes from Christ.

Cling to him, and share the hope he brings.

Hope is the ultimate antidote to cynicism. In a world that’s growing more cynical by the minute, hope is one of the most radical things you can do.

Hope is the ultimate antidote to cynicism. Click To Tweet

Find Some Hope


If you want to go deeper on where we’re at as a culture and where you’re at as a person, I tackle some critical issues in my book, Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences. 

You can pick up your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here (hardcover, AudioBook or Kindle) and once again (or for the first time) discover how to thrive in life leadership.

A Great Opportunity

This is an incredible opportunity for the church to be the church.

As the culture distances itself daily from its Christian moorings, Christianity is becoming a serious alternative and a harbour of hope.

Keep confessing. Stay accountable. Take responsibility. Stop blaming. Keep hoping. Listen, and above all, keep loving.

You (and everyone around you) will benefit.

Those are some thoughts about how the Gospel provides a response to a culture that’s increasingly post-truth and post-fact.

Anything you would add? How do you see it?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel in a Post-Truth, Post-Fact Culture


  1. Wayne on February 10, 2020 at 3:13 am

    Carey, the linchpin in your construct is the very word/concept “gospel”. It is by definition having to do with Christ as a truth. And so, while it is TRUTH for us, it is and has become an offense to those who will not confess, as the scriptures declare of the gospel. Hence, the death of the prophets. The Church (as represented by religious habituated folk who enter a sanctified space at one location or another and espouse one book) seems not to be representative of hope as much as hate (or just another tribe) to the non affiliated (ex-triba). It seems the hope (perhaps saying the same thing as you differently) might have more to do with the excarnate creatures that we have become to live an incarnate (kingdom of God within) life that is “spent” toward Christ and His will to win over by love in uncommon unity with all souls because we are all made in the image of God. We do our most good when fully God-inspirited through redemption to righteousness BUT the sanctified space and one book and Christianese requirements will likely always divide.

  2. Lorie on February 9, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you for this Carey. Love your insight and your ability to help us all to keep a clear focus on what matters and what actually is the antidote… to everything. The Gospel!
    So thankful for you and your podcast.
    It continues to grow and challenge me.

  3. Dan Reiland on February 9, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    So good Carey.

    I so appreciate the depth of your thinking, especially in combination with the fact that you care.
    Keep up the great work, so many of us benefit and the Kingdom is advanced.


  4. Mac MacCullough on April 2, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Your essay is on the mark and appreciated.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an admirable & courageous man, living his faith.
    Your reference to him is appropriate, BUT his name deserves to be spelled correctly.

    Be honest, now, confess the truth.

  5. Nicholle Colace on February 11, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your publish is just spectacular and that i can think you are an expert in this subject. Fine along with your permission let me to seize your RSS feed to stay updated with forthcoming post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please carry on the gratifying work.

  6. […] I wrote more on living out the Gospel in a post-truth world here. […]

  7. […] But the church doesn’t exist to elect or defeat politicians. It exists to glorify Christ and grow his Kingdom (which is an alt Kingdom) in the world. (Here are a few more thoughts on being the church in the present political climate.) […]

  8. […] 7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel in a Post-Truth, Post-Fact Culture –Carey Nieuwhof The Gospel is perhaps the very best antidote we have to the current cultural turbulence… […]

  9. Dave Francis on June 12, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Really appreciate the pointed words about truth. Today it’s so messy. I’m grateful for absolute truth in our subjective thinking culture. I appreciate #5 Keep some distance from your political position. There is much value in that statement. Thanks Carey!

  10. Doreen McCaugherty on June 11, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Power has no use for truth. I am a senior and thankful for my early years in the 1940’s and 1950’s. To be a younger person in these times–well, just say I can’t imagine. So many decisions based on only their own reality. Grounded in the me generation. Being His light requires much surrender and knowing of Whom you know. Trying not to point fingers and using judgement instead of love. For some, they offer the reason we are in the last days or are they using it as a excuse? My faith is in a person whose name is Jesus. I try to keep it pure in ways that honour Him. His message has not changed and one presents it just as He did. Our leader is Christ and we measure up to His standards and not bring down His words to fit in today.

  11. Lorie on May 22, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Well said Carey. You’ve clarified for me some of the things I’ve been wrestling with. Thank you.

  12. Jon Perrin on March 6, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    Exceptional post, Carey! Keep ’em coming!

  13. Alex Verdun on February 4, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Well said! One of the best responses to the current trends that I have read.
    Thanks Carey

  14. donBcoleman on January 31, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Carey – thank you! As always, this is good, insightful and TIMELY!

  15. Ben Sadler on January 30, 2017 at 9:38 am

    I believe selfless sacrificial love is the only answer. Nobody will care what we have to say until they know we actually care.

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  17. Latricia Booker on January 30, 2017 at 4:24 am

    This definitely struck a cord with me. You have verbalized a lot of what I have been feeling. Thank you so much.

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  19. 123456789 on January 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I agree with what you are attempting to communicate BUT I think that you are posting fictitious dribble to those being raised in classrooms that teach them that wrong answers are good answers, or wrong answers are even the right answers if thats what you think. Not only are students no longer corrected for wrong answers, but, they are also not corrected for wrong behaviors. Instead of being told ‘No!” or “that is not nice!” they are given a suggestion for a different way of behaving. The standard used in classrooms is personal choice. They are taught this in school because teachers are not allowed to say “that is wrong” to a student for fear it may hurt their self image [and probably because many teachers themselves can no longer identify with right and wrong]. Such a system has been in place for decades and destroys children’s ability to deal with opposition ( as is seen in democrats reactions to Trump’s victory). So much so that truth is no longer definable. And now, as the children have grown older, if they are opposed (i.e. my answer is not supported, such as in a political realm) I will react with anger and violence. After all, five days week, week after week, from day care through pre school and through High School, I never learned that I can make a mistake or be wrong; I never learned how to deal with personal opposition to my feelings, only that it is “my choice” to make, I am responsible to no higher authority, like a teacher. I never learned that there is any absolutes by having to make my case or learn what reality is or correct myself (ask forgiveness). In effect I am being taught to reject truth by the very methods used in society to train me up!!

    I agree with continued dialog and reason of the Scriptures, BUT, if you want to make a major change in society and move back toward the existence of Truth, revamp the (NEA’s) approach and support of teaching ‘methods’ in classrooms and Day Cares. Change the laws that they have lobbied for in State Legislatures that have put some of these things in place. Have students understand that there is such a thing as a right answer and wrong answer; correct students for “right and wrong” “good and evil” behaviors. Otherwise “Truth is relative” by their very experiences and your words simply roll off the duck’s back like water, without recognition that truth is even missing.

    Even parents who are engaged and properly communicating Truth with their children can find it difficult to deal with the educational systems’ influence.

    • Diane Whitehead on June 20, 2019 at 9:00 am

      So so SO correct! Everything you described is exactly how it is (sadly). My husband is a (second career) teacher. It’s insane. How did it get so bad so fast?

  20. Kimberly Wax on January 27, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Thank you for writing this article. It is wonderful to read an article written with logic and standards; like a match in a darkened room. Danny Murphy’s comment also made me think, too, about our actions when dealing with this current zeitgeist; thank you.

    Points I question are as follows: “Hope is the ultimate antidote for cynicism.” Based on the Bible and your essay, would not truth be the ultimate antidote for cynicism?

    “Christians believe truth and love are fused together. And in that, is hope.” I do not believe the Scriptures fuse those two words together. At least, I do not recall seeing them fused together as some others are. God is love and truth, but he is also justice, avenging, angry and He even possessed the ability to hate. I am stating this because I have seen Christians hiding behind the current definition of love, as if love was passive, even cowardly, always ensuring to never offend, always tolerating. Truth stands alone. And the truth of God’s love is so much more than our current definition. So, when you say “If your truth doesn’t look like love, it’s not truth.” I cringe because truth can many times look like many things other than love.

    My comments are not in a spirit of argument.

    • Sue Jeantheau on May 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18

      Maybe we don’t see love and truth “fused” in all mentions in Scripture, but they are certainly tied together. As for what God means by ‘truth’ and ‘love’ vs what we tend to do to those definitions, I think that’s part of the point Carey is making, and you acknowledge this given your response as to God’s holiness. Do we need absolute truth? Is that from God? I believe the answer is “yes” to both questions. But, did not God demonstrate His love to fulfill the truth of His Word, His promise to Abraham and the generations through His Son? Did He not do this so that we might in turn demonstrate that same love to others, our obedience to His truth? I can’t really separate those two things….

    • Dave Z on February 10, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      “‘Christians believe truth and love are fused together. And in that, is hope.’ “I do not believe the Scriptures fuse those two words together. At least, I do not recall seeing them fused together as some others are.”

      This one is kind of hard to miss, IMO.
      Ephesians 4:15 (NLTSE)
      [15] Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

  21. […] 7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel In A Post-Truth, Post-Fact Culture […]

  22. Steven Council on January 27, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Good article. An additional topic would be those few people who use the Gospel to hide the fact of their evil ways. Those who read the word but still choose to lie, steal, falsely accuse, use the church for monetary gain, admittedly forgive themselves without making up for their transgressions,etc.

  23. […] 7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel in a Post-Truth, Post-Fact Culture by Carey Nieuwhof […]

  24. […] 7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel In A Post-Truth, Post-Fact Culture […]

  25. Danny Murphy on January 26, 2017 at 11:02 am

    “What is truth?” Pilate asked as he stared into the eyes of truth in the person of Jesus Christ. As a judge with the power to execute, Pilate may have been looking harder and with more sincerity than most people ever do. He must have seen something because he washed his hands of the matter. This post by Carey was full of truth and insight, and it should be quite relevant to Christians and non-Christians alike.

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