Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

May 14, 2019
The concept of ‘fake news’ has been around for a long time

Someone said history begins with us, because we pass all information through our own experience filters to arrive at a method to define what is being said. 

So if I begin with a phrase like “fake news,” many are going to place the subject into the political arena and feel obligated to pick a side to cast their argument at who or what is responsible. 

But I would submit that the concept of “fake news” has been around for a long time and I would like to look at some Biblical references to support that idea.

The first is from the Old Testament. It is toward the end of a tragic series of events recorded in Second Samuel. King David had been run out of town by his rebellious son Absalom, who declared himself king and set about to make mess of his father’s kingdom.  

At the beginning of chapter 18, David has put together an army to take back the kingdom, but it seems you can hear the sorrow and concern in the old king’s voice as he says, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” 2 Sam 18:5b NIV 

Here’s a spoiler alert for those of you not familiar with the story: Absalom is murdered by Joab, one of David’s generals. A young man named Ahimaaz wanted to deliver the news even though he had little knowledge of the actual events. But Joab selected an unnamed Cushite to carry the tragic account of the day, who immediately began to run to the king. Ahimaaz was not deterred. He begged Joab to let him run as well.

 OK, that does sound a little like cable news, but I digress. Joab relented and off went Ahimaaz with the “fake news.” He actually passed the guy with the facts and when he arrived before the king the first thing he said was “All is well,” which from David’s perspective was not well at all. 

I would like to turn quickly to the New Testament to a word usually referred to as the “good news” or a “good message,” which is translated as the gospel. The word appears 96 times in 91 verses, is first recorded as being said by Jesus in answer to a question about the end of the age or His return. In Matthew 24, Jesus described the complete destruction of the temple, then began a warning of things that would happen before His return, including those coming in His name to deceive, in other words there would be people coming with “fake news.”

This prophecy of Christ was quickly fulfilled and the apostle Paul talked about the concern in several places including in his letter to the churches of Galatia when he writes, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” Galatians 1: 6-8 NIV 

The fake news says there are lots of ways to connect with God, to in fact hear the good news. But according to John, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: NIV

Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.

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