I love watching documentaries — especially when they involve history, crime or a combination of the two. Recently I watched the docuseries “Murder Among the Mormons,” an investigative series revealing the dark side of documents dealing in the Mormon Church in the mid-1980s. At the center of the drama is Mark Hofmann, a master forger who turned to bombing those that were about to catch him in the act of forging historical Mormon documents.
Hofmann had become a master of deceit long before this though. By age 14, he had developed a technique that was undetectable by the U.S. Treasury. Hofmann sent his forged coin to them and they pronounced it genuine. As Hofmann reflected on that incident, he said, “In my view, if the Treasury Department pronounces it genuine, then it is genuine by definition. It’s not so much what is genuine and what isn’t, as what people believe is genuine.”
Hofmann said to a colleague, “If something seems to be true, and becomes accepted as true, it becomes true.” (Murder Among the Mormons, BBC Studios, 2021.)
Sadly, Hofmann is not the only one that thinks this way. Many of our youths live their lives this way as well. According to the Barna Research Group, one-quarter of Gen Z (those born 1999-2015) strongly agree that what is morally right and wrong changes over time based on society. One participant said, “Society changes, and what’s good or bad changes as well. It is all relative to what’s happening in the world.” (Barna Group, 2018) In other words, if something seems to be true, and becomes accepted as true, it becomes true.
For those of us that are seeking to pass on a resilient faith to our children and teens, this is in direct opposition to God’s Word. Psalm 19:7-8 reveals the big “T” Truth in the Scriptures:
“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”
God’s word is perfect and sure, right and pure. It restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart and enlightens the eyes. It is all these things because it is not dependent on my opinion of it. It stands on its own. It is not susceptible to groupthink.
When my soul is exhausted, I can turn to the word of God and know that it is perfect. It has not changed since the last time I looked, since it was written. It has always been perfect. When I feel inadequate to face a challenge, I can turn to the word of God and know that it is sure. It will give me guidance that can be trusted. It is a sure source of wisdom. When I look at the word of God and see His heart of love and compassion, my heart rejoices. When I look at the word of God and see His heart of justice and mercy, my eyes are enlightened.
As a ministry leader to the next generation, my focus is on guiding our children to be resilient disciples of Jesus Christ. As our children grow up, what tools do they have for dealing with the exhaustion they will face? The inadequacies they will feel? Relative truth — truth that shifts as society says it should — will only exacerbate those situations. Instead, we need to be teaching our kids big “T” truth — truth that doesn’t change based on current trends. Truth that has remained the same always. Teaching our kids critical thinking skills so that they can recognize when their “truth” has shifted and when they are thinking based on Truth will lead them to become resilient in their faith as well as their discipleship.