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Hope for the propaganda society

The information society has become the propaganda society.

Wallace Henley Portrait
Wallace Henley |

The delusionary power of propaganda was revealed in a recent survey by The Wall Street Journal and NBC showing that Americans are discarding old values and replacing them with those driven by what the Bible might call the spirit of the age.

“Many young people just don’t place a high value on patriotism, religion, family... and capitalism,” said Kristen Tate, of Young Americans for Liberty, in an interview with FOX Business host Charles Payne.

The research data show that the information age contains much knowledge, but little wisdom. Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians comes to mind. The Apostle writes of people in a future period of “lawlessness” who “did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved,” and,

“For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)

God graciously grants us freedom. If we persist in using that freedom to reject truth and receive propaganda in conformance with the cultural age, propaganda and its delusions are what we will get.

In the fallen world, as Romans 8 tells us, the tendency of things is to deteriorate in quality, from positive to negative, from order to disorder. Information begins as a good because it seeks to share truth. However, information decays into propaganda when it distorts factual truth for the sake of exploitation and misinformation to advance a human-conceived agenda.

Cal Thomas wrote about what I would call one of the most propagandized cities in the United States—San Francisco—and a new policy it has enacted. Thomas calls a decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors a “demonstration of insanity.” 

Thomas was writing about the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ adoption of new “person first” language guidelines meant to “change the public’s perception of criminals.” The words, “convicted felon,” “offender,” “convict,” “addict” and “juvenile delinquent” are out. These individuals will henceforth be referred to as a “justice-involved person.” Someone previously called a “criminal” will now be referred to as “a returning resident,” or “a formerly incarcerated person.”

But it’s not just political entities that fall into propagandizing behavior. Theological propaganda gets rid of other negative language, like, “I am a sinner.” Churches that still use that terminology are becoming the minority in the midst of the immanence-enthralled, glitzy new American Christianity that focuses heavily on the enhancement of the self rather than a deep commitment and relationship with God that pesky evil blocks.

Other institutions are also caught up in the propaganda-craze—especially education. Rather than being bodies of learning, many establishment schools have become Orwellian propaganda mills. Freedom of thought that extends to all fields of knowledge must walk the fine line demanded by the preservers and propagators of propaganda.

Christian Post reporter Brandon Showalter wrote about Dr. David Gelertner, of Yale University, who detailed the loss of his faith in Darwinism, and called for a deeper consideration of intelligent design.

In the eyes of his colleagues, he said, “you take your life in your hands” to challenge Darwinist theory from an intellectual perspective. “They will destroy you if you challenge it.”

Such statements make me think of what I observed when I first began traveling in the old Soviet Bloc just after the collapse of communism. I noted in one city loudspeakers on every corner. My guide explained that in the communist era they blasted Marxist propaganda throughout the day. One could never escape it.

So in our propagandized society the five members of the “consensus establishment”—Entertainment, Information, Academia, Political, and Corporate hurl propaganda at us nonstop. We must learn how to fight it and train our children.

To resist the propaganda barrage in all areas, people must have truth as the standard by which they discern and reject the propaganda. That truth must be transcendent, not a product of the culture, but ultimate truth to which all other truth-claims must answer.

This is a major reason I believe that the health of a nation is in proportion to the health of the church within the nation. Preserving, propagating, proclaiming transcendent truth is a vital task of the church in any culture.

Paul, in Romans 12, urges the church to not be “conformed” to this “age,” but to be “transformed” by the “renewal” of the mind. That “renewal” comes through ancient truth that has stood against intense foes across the ages.

The church that yields to the spirit of the age has sinned against the society where it has been placed to minister that enduring truth, which is the gospel of the Kingdom. Such a church, yielding to and promoting the propaganda of the age is like a physician who injects the patient with the same bacteria causing the person’s illness.

But the church that resists the cultural propaganda is the major hope for a society sick with deep delusion.

Wallace Henley, a former White House and congressional aide, is senior associate pastor at Houston’s Second Baptist Church. His latest book is Call Down Lightning, an analysis of the Welsh Revival of 1904-5 and its implications for our times, published by Thomas Nelson.

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