What exactly is the opposite of “fake news?” Is it “authentic news?” Does that mean if people authentically believe something to be true, it is? When you are on one side or the other of an issue, who decides whether something is the truth or a lie?
In a family, when a fight breaks out between two siblings, it is usually not possible for a parent to get a clear picture of who started the fight. Each sibling will blame the other, and a wise parent will give both siblings a “time out.” Similarly, in a relationship where each of two people believes the truth is aligned with one’s own particular bias and labels the other’s position to be based on a lie, there will be trouble. Who decides what’s true?
It is important to distinguish between personal truth and what could be termed objective truth. Objective truth requires a measurement higher than and separate from our subjective beliefs about an issue, person, or event. Personal truth cannot be objective because it is based on our individual experiences, worldviews, family contexts, religious beliefs, likes and dislikes, and more.
Determining what is “fake” news versus “authentic” news is easier. Reputable news organizations will abide by rules of fair and honest reporting, and most democratic countries ensure that reporters are free to investigate the facts of a story. The news organization also has a responsibility to differentiate clearly between fact-based news and subjective comments (op-eds).
For Christians, there is an objective standard that can measure what is authentic or fake, truth or lies. Scripture reveals two measures that help us get to the truth: The first is Jesus Christ, who reveals himself to be truth (John 14:6), and the second is the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13). Together the Holy Spirit and our King of kings provide an objective standard of truth against which our authentically held personal truths will be judged.