A Christian re-interpretation of the Big Lie and the Big Truth

Last week, Philip M. coined a new concept, “the Big Truth.” He said that just as the Big Lie is a lie so enormous that people can’t see that it’s a lie, the Big Truth is “a truth so frightening that people dare not admit even the possibility of it.” Or, as I wrote in my reply to Philip, “The Big Lie is a lie so big that it is believed. The Big Truth is a truth so big that it is disbelieved.”

Now reader Bill W. has an original gloss on that idea. He uses “Big Lie” and “Big Truth” in quite a different sense from the way Philip and I used it, but his essay nevertheless makes complete sense. He says that the Big Lie—the lie so big that people accept it as the truth—is the liberal assertion that man is and can be a totally autonomous being. The Big Truth—the truth so big and seemingly so threatening that people reject it—is that we can only realize our true self—our true, individual, human self—through Jesus Christ.

Bill W. writes:

I’ve been dwelling lately on many of the same thoughts that you and Philip M. are discussing. So we have a Big Lie, which essentially is the statement that all that matters is the totally autonomous person, the individual self. And the Bigger Lie yet, which underlies this, is that a self can ever be totally autonomous. Of course, it’s pretty understandable that people desire autonomy. To be autonomous means to be free from rules, expectations, and free to define yourself as you see fit. The tragic absurdity of this position was discussed by C.S. Lewis in the final chapter of “Mere Christianity.” He had been discussing, in the previous paragraph, how in giving yourself to Christ, you don’t lose yourself (though you do), as much as you find yourself:

The more we get what we now call “ourselves” out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of “little Christs,” all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. He made them all. He invented—as an author invents characters in a novel—all the different men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. It is no good trying to “be myself” without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call “Myself” becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop. What I call “My wishes” become merely the desires thrown up by my physical organism or pumped into me by devils. Eggs and alcohol and a good night’s sleep will be the real origins of what I flatter myself by regarding as my own highly personal and discriminating decision to make love the girl opposite to me in the railway carriage. Propaganda will be the real origin of what I regard as my own personal political ideals. I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call “me” can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.

And I think that sums up so much of what we see in modern leftism—they desire, absurdly, tragically, that the radically autonomous “selves” be set free, but, being good materialists, they don’t stop to realize that if they are right, then there are no true “selves” to set free in the first place. The reduction of man found in of B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism—which is utterly consistent and concomitant to materialism—tells us that there is no “there” there. We are nothing more than the sequelae of events which preceded. And this is the Bigger Lie.

But from a Christian point of view, it must be remembered that Big Lies don’t begin from themselves; they are derivative to and only made possible by Big Truths. And the Big Truth which our world is so desperately trying to paper over, is that man is not fully autonomous, but that we are created beings, endowed with reason, and the freedom to make use of it. We are created this way because our Creator, though we cannot fully understand Him, places a special sort of importance on what we call love, and love is only possible if there is the freedom not to choose it. I know that when love is discussed in this manner, reasoning through its necessary preconditions, it can seem sterile, as though by “making people who can love” some greater goal, some higher function, is accomplished. But it must be remembered that God loves us each more passionately than a man loves a woman, and more gently than a mother loves her newborn baby. And, loving us fully, He won’t tolerate anything other than that His utter perfection be reflected in us. And this knowledge brings with it a kind of deep, quiet joy, an assurance that in the end, good does triumph, because all Big Lies are basically only denials of Big Truths, and denials of Him in whom Big Truths find their beginnings.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 16, 2011 10:09 AM | Send

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