What are you willing to concede?
This is a nagging concern in our times when so-called “social media” browbeating and “news” are converging. The truth of any matter is becoming more and more difficult to discern as news outlets have more or less overtly abandoned their supposed commitmentto unbiased reporting. The “news” is now pretty much dressed up opinion pieces and the reader is left to his own devices on gathering actual information. As one pundit has put it, “They’re not even pretending anymore.”
News reporting is slanted with modifiers that reflect the reporter’s bias. Consider – News Item: Cadets of the Citadel in Charleston, SC fired artillery at Ft. Sumter yesterday. Report #1: “An unprovoked and vicious attack on federal soldiers took place yesterday as rebellious men of Charleston fired mortars at Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor.” Report #2: “The valiant young men of the Citadel struck a blow for liberty yesterday, defending our economy from oppressive tax collection enforced by Northern troops stationed at Ft. Sumter.”
You can figure out that the fort was fired upon from either “report”, but to do so you must first wade through the filters of the reporters. We’re no longer reading the news, we’re evaluating the bias of the reporter of the news.
Social media interactions are most often competing declarations devolved into name-calling rather than give-and-take discussions. Many of these platforms are quite clear on their out-and-out censoring of news and opinion with which they disagree.
Since all we have left to go on are opinions, there’s this awful problem of how to assess the validity or reasonableness of the opinion. And that’s where the question of concession comes in.
If a writer is willing to concede a point of objective truth (“the sky is blue”) even if it conflicts with his preferences (“my favorite color is green”), then that writer’s reporting is more believable to me. When a writer is unwilling to concede that the sky is blue (“depends on what you mean by ‘blue!’”) then I generally stop reading and move on.
Christianity is a tremendous help here. Committed Christians are concerned with the truth of history, science, art, politics, and every other endeavor. God’s law is designed to reward justice, mercy, and humility (Mic. 6:8) and all of these things have their basis in God’s truth.
To be a genuine Christian is to have conceded to God and to others the truth of sin and a sinful nature in one’s lifeand to have also conceded that God, alone, is sovereign. This means a great deal and indicates a willingness to serve up the truth when reporting.
Absence of concession indicates a pride that carries with it a desire to conform the world to our own vision. It means we think we’re God.
God is truth (John 14:6). God will humble the proud (Isa. 2:11).Truths to keep in mind. If we run into arguments unwilling to concede truth or if we, ourselves, will not concede truthful points, then we should recognize we’re dealing with mostly hot air.