In the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 US Presidential election, the prominence of fake news became a major problem. Fraudulent articles spread throughout social media (Facebook, Twitter) like wildfire. The CIA said that Russia was propagating fake news stories as part of a psychological and cyberwarfare campaign. Confusion abounded and truth was sometimes hard to discern in a world that seemed stranger than fiction.
The problem for many people was the inability to discern between what was real and what was fake. Some fake news sites used a tactic called ‘spoofing’ – a ploy to make those who visit the website believe they are visiting trusted and reliable news organizations. Other stories were structured like news articles but came from unreliable sources or individuals. Still others used ‘clickbait’ – outrageous headlines that provoke the reader to click on the story and selectively present facts so as to make readers believe one thing when the reality was actually something different.
Fake news is incredibly destructive. In a time where the public is generally uninformed about the complexity of political issues, fake news sites fill the void and appeal to people’s fascination for the extreme, sensational, and speculative.
Fake news is not a modern phenomenon. When the apostle Paul heard reports of the churches in Galatia, he was alarmed. Fake news was spreading. Paul’s authenticity, apostleship, and announcement of good news was considered suspect. So he wrote a terse letter to these churches to call them back – away from another gospel (which is no gospel) and back to the grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6-7).
Knowing the difference between good news and fake news is always important. Knowing the source, reliability, and credibility both of the message and the messenger ensures that we don’t succumb to fake news. The headline might have an ounce of truth, but if it deviates ever so slightly, the results can be fatal.
It’s good to know that Jesus Christ, the God-man, was given up to death for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to God’s will, and was raised from the dead (Gal. 1:2, 4). And is essential that we regularly confirm these truths through things like catechism, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship.
Avoid fake news! Return to the source and hear the words of our Father that call us back to the grace of Christ.
See you Sunday!
PS – Have you picked up your copy of the New City Catechism? You can grab one in the foyer or download the app from Google Play or the App Store.
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.