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Category: News & Current Events / Topics: Bible Change COVID-19 Crisis Current Events, News Media News Trust

No Revision Needed

by George Garrison

Posted: May 15, 2020

Finding reliable information in the age of COVID-19…

George Garrison is senior pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois. He began writing "Thursday Thoughts" during the COVID-19 pandemic, when so much of the church's activities had to go virtual.

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a
furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

Psalm 12:5

One of telling components of our days of COVID-19 is the volume of information that seems to be changing from day to day, even hour to hour. While our quarantined conditions remain frustratingly the same, the proclamations, predictions, and assessments are in a constant state of flux; it’s not a very comforting combination.

A recent article by Ed Yong in The Atlantic provided an insightful window into our ever-evolving output of news. While it is certainly understandable why what we are hearing about COVID is constantly being revised and amended, there are other factors at work that Yong highlights that reveal the limitations of human words. I’ll categorize some of Yong’s observations with the following “four P’s”:

Platform.  People want to hear a definitive word to build their hope and future plans around, but that’s not how science actually works. Yong states that science is less a “parade of decisive blockbuster discoveries that the press often portrays, and more a slow, erratic stumble toward ever less uncertainty.”  This is frustrating process for most of us and not exactly how things unfold in the vocational world most of us know.

Pride. Society tends to reward projected confidence over humility. Yong points out that we would rather hear a confident wrong prediction than an accurate one filled with caveats, but the latter is what science offers. The media also gravitates towards voices that are outspoken but not necessarily correct.

Positioning.  Several months ago a good number of respected figures voiced concerns about preparedness if the virus wasn’t contained. In referring to a respected sociologist, Yong concludes, “I hope the lesson people take from this is not ‘Experts were wrong.’ If you followed the right people, they were overwhelmingly right. We just didn’t put them in the right place so we could hear them.”

Pursuit. According to Yong, the pandemic’s length “Traps people in a liminal space. To clarify their uprooted life and indefinite future, they try to gather as much information as possible—and cannot stop.”   Another source commented how “We go seeking fresher and fresher information, and end up consuming un-vetted misinformation that’s spreading rapidly. Pandemics actually unfold in slow motion, and there’s no event that changes the whole landscape on a dime.

Scripture contains several passages like the one above from Psalm 12 that speak to the unmatched authority and security of God’s Word. Instead of constantly needing revision, God’s Word is inherently in its purest form.

In contrast to Yong’s observations regarding the communication of recent months, the platform from which God speaks is one of certainty and finality. There is no evolving of facts or truth or the dissemination of information that feeds our frustration.

God words are untainted by human pride but with full authority as the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  Our longing to hear definitive and true wordsare met fully in His proclamations.

Because of God’s sovereignty and power, His written word never needs to be strategically positioned or given the proper media attention in order to be heeded.

Finally, because of the finality of what God has spoken, we need not pursue other opinions or constantly gather information to augment what He’s proclaimed on the most crucial of subjects.

Scripture is especially comforting during these uncertain times, not just for it’s life-giving truth but because it speaks definitively and authoritatively into our lives. As it says about itself, it is “tested and pure,” it is a “shield of refuge,” and a “strong tower.”  God’s Word has a stabilizing hold on our lives that is amplified in contrast to human pronouncements. May the struggles and limitations of human words we witness each day cause us to grow in our love and appreciation for His Word.

Praying for that in addition to all I pray for you,

Pastor George

© 2020 George A. Garrison

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George Garrison is Senior Pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois.

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Posted: May 15, 2020

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