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Collin Hansen recently tweeted, “I’ve come to expect that many will lie about what I say and think. It’s part of the job for me and life for all of us in this fallen world. I don’t quite know what to make of the fact that almost all of the lying comes from professing Christians who know the truth.”
Hansen’s lament is probably applicable across the political and ecclesial spectrum. What makes that uniquely tragic is that Christians have a particular duty to accurately represent our interlocutors.
Edition - Institutes - Christian - Religion - John
In the 1559 edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin comments on the ninth commandment as follows:
Calvin’s development in this regard cuts us to the quick for our near obsession with the intoxicating, poisonous opportunism of falsehood:
Security - Men - Respect - Disease - Delight
And yet it is strange, with what supine security men everywhere sin in this respect. Indeed, very few are found who do not notoriously labour under this disease: such is the envenomed delight we take both in prying into and exposing our neighbour’s faults. Let us not imagine it is a sufficient excuse to say that on many occasions our statements are not false. He who forbids us to defame our neighbour’s reputation by falsehood, desires us to keep it untarnished in so far as truth will permit.
If Calvin is correct, then Christians have a particular duty not only to refrain from spreading falsehoods about our neighbor, but upholding their good name as well. Accurately representing our interlocutor(s) is undoubtedly an implication of loving our neighbors. But additionally, the logic of Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians links the church’s obligation of truthfulness directly to our participation with Christ in the new creation: “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new...
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