On the death of truth: a lament...

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All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives. (Proverbs 16:2)

Recently, we've had several posts calling out Liam Goligher and Carl Trueman for misquoting Calvin. David Talcott's post explained why reformed men want to claim Calvin for their side. To the contrary, as Dr. Talcott gently warned readers, "Calvin thought sex meant something in civil society." This is the heart of the issue.

Sadly, the point is lost on reformed men today. Dr. Talcott's kind assumption that reformed men care about truth is wrong. What Reformed men keep track of isn't truth, but spin, relationships, and outward appearances. What else could account for the refusal of men like Goligher and Trueman to correct their blatant falsehoods? What else could account for the hostile response of other reformed men to these men being called out for their deception?

Truth matters. When Goligher and Trueman feed their readers a lie, it tarnishes their own reputations among the godly. Beyond that, their lie slanders a man who cannot defend himself. If he were alive, he could file charges against them, but John Calvin died some time ago...

In addition to the damage that has been done to the reputations of Goligher, Trueman, and Calvin, the deception has damaged the purity of the church's doctrine.

Most importantly, the deception has dishonored God. All truth is God's truth.

It would be a different story if the issue were open to interpretation.

It isn't. The matter is clear. Only those with prior ideological commitments are blind to the lie. If Goligher and Trueman's1 misrepresentation of Calvin was a simple mistake; if it was merely sloppiness, this all might have turned out differently. Informed of their error, Goligher and Trueman could have made a simple correction.

Instead, they have doubled down on their lie, with Goligher making the absurd claim that those correcting him haven't "read the sources." This indicates his lie was no simple mistake. So now, a month after we asked for the error to be corrected, Goligher remains intransigent and his lie continues to be published and circulated. Goligher and Trueman have demonstrated no compunction over their lie, nor lifted a finger to correct it.

So I lament the death of truth. These men are brazen. They have placed a bet that nobody cares about truth anymore and they appear to have won. Yes, the people love it so, but what will they do in the end?

To the jaded and ironic I know I sound over the top.

But there's another aspect to Goligher and Trueman's lie I want us to note.

This callous disregard for truth is characteristic of men working against Scripture's doctrine of sexuality. They can't seem to help themselves. You don't get to be reformed celebrities by being clueless concerning the direction we want our ears tickled, today.

Here's a thought experiment: imagine some guy going on a Reformed parachurch web site and making the claim that Calvin agreed with Knox in his sedition against the Queen.

No one would put up with it, of course—least of all Carl Trueman. While the ink was wet on the page, Trueman would declare Goligher wrong and Goligher would issue a fulsome retraction. How could Liam be so gauche? Over the next week or so, all the young dudes would be a-twitter with the horror of it.

But the errors and deceptions are never made in the direction of God's Order of Creation. That's not where their congregation's ears itch.

This is the reason Tim Keller's false statements about his former denomination's actions related to women officers continue to be spread today, many years later. It's the reason that, despite our documentation of Phil Ryken's misquotation of B. B. Warfield, his misquotation remained alive and well on Tenth's website four months later. Keep in mind that Ryken was Goligher's predecessor in the pulpit of Tenth Presbyterian, and that members of Ryken and Goligher's Philadelphia Presbytery have run in the same circles as Tim Keller's Metro New York Presbytery in the spadework of removing the Presbyterian Church in America's constitutional prohibition of women officers.

Liam Goligher and Carl Trueman have shown a callous disregard for truth. Nothing is simpler than for someone at Westminster Seminary, a member or officer of Tenth Presbyterian Church, or a member of Philadelphia Presbytery to request those in authority over these men hold them accountable for their words.

Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you.  - Psalms 86:11

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NOTE: This post has been corrected to reflect the fact that Dr. Carl Trueman is a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, not the Presbyterian Church in America.

  • 1. We include Trueman since he owns the blog and published the lie.

Joseph and his wife, Heidi, have five children, Tate, Eliza Jane, Moses, Fiona and Annabel. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and Clearnote Pastors College. He is currently planting Christ Church in Cincinnati with several other families.