“What is truth?”
This question, attributed to Pontius Pilate, opens the trailer to something called The Truth Project, an evangecational undertaking assembled by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. As the remainder of the trailer indicates, it’s a query the braintrust of the project isn’t qualified to answer.
What does the project comprise? Well, first and foremost, it’s a way for Focus on the Family to make $119 a head, $149 a couple. (Tackett claims that Focus on the Family receives over 250,000 letters and phone calls per month, or about six per minute, so he’s not playing to a small audience.) It is, according to the Web site, “a DVD-based small group curriculum comprised of 12 one-hour lessons taught by Dr. Del Tackett. This home study is the starting point for looking at life from a biblical perspective. Each lesson discusses in great detail the relevance and importance of living the Christian worldview in daily life.” Of course, the only way to receive the DVD set is to attend one of the Truth Project conferences that will be held between now and mid-October (in Colorado Springs, Honolulu, and Louisville, Ky.).
This page includes brief descriptions of what each of the 12 DVDs contains. Lesson 5 (“Science: What is True?”) looks like a doozy: “Science, the ‘systematic study of the natural world,’ brings to light innumerable evidences of Intelligent Design. But Darwinian theory transforms science from the honest investigation of nature into a vehicle for propagating a godless philosophy … A careful examination of molecular biology and the fossil record demonstrates that evolution is not a ‘proven fact.’ Meanwhile, history shows that ideas, including Darwinism as a social philosophy, have definite consequences – consequences that can turn ugly when God is left out of the picture.” Truth, bullshit, who’s keeping track? This is ultimately a Dobson production, after all. The other DVD descriptions hearken to a whole lot of baroque nothing, but this could be partly attributable to my eyes glazing over when I read passages like “…knowing God in an intimate, personal, and relational way … transforms us from the inside out as we begin to see ourselves in the light of His majesty and holiness.”
The trailer also reeks of neatly packaged irrelevance. “There is no direction you can travel in which God has not spoken,” Tackett tells a classroom full of people. Tackett plays fast and loose with the definitions of simple terms like “truth” and “lies,” freely interchanging the two numerous times in the course of the four-minute trailer. For example, he says that Christians are suffering deeply from the consequences of the lies propagated by the members of society at large — people, he says, to whom Christians have become dangerously similar. (This is surely nothing more than a lament over the fact that, for example, Born-Again Christians have a higher divorce rate than couples in the population at large.) He asserts that a “comprehensive Biblical world view” makes people “not as easy to fool” (apparently code for “more brainwashed and resistant to reality”) and can allow people fend off those lies and illusions that the godless so eagerly foment.
“Truth is fundamentally about who God is,” notes an “expert” on something not specified. If that’s the case, there’s no such thing as truth. And that is, in part, the thrust of the project, which dips into the well of postmodernism several times in the course of the trailer.
Calling this “The Truth Project” is wish-making and unjustifiable. Call it an extended God seminar, another form of spreading the Gospel, a call for belief, what have you — but don’t call it “truth” unless you can back it up. Statements such as “We are going to turn and gaze upon the face of God” are not true statements; they’re expressions of belief, whimsical platitudes that mean nothing to people not already laboring under the delusion of being watched over by a concerned deity.
“I guess in the end what we’re after is that God’s people will hunger for him,” Tackett says as the trailer winds down. “When [Jesus] weeps, we weep. What he calls evil, we see as evil.” All well and good, but by what measure is there anything “true” about any of this? Does anyone have footage of a teary-eyed Jesus?
In the end, the whole thing comes across as an imprecation to the masses not to trust “culture” — and, moreover, a moneymaking endeavor for Focus on the Family. That’s what these guys are all about; they don’t give a rip about the nature of anyone’s metphysical beliefs as long as the checks keep rolling in. They’re no different from anyone else in this regard, which is gaily ironic considering that the major pitch of the project is that Christians have come to too closely resemble the masses.