Standing firm in an age of weaponized information

“The press is all in, in support of Biden,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz after the vice-presidential debate October 7.

Wallace Henley
Wallace Henley, former Senior Associate Pastor of 2nd Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. |

That reality is an alert that the upcoming election is about much more than Donald Trump or Joe Biden but has serious implications for the nation’s long-term political and institutional freedoms.

Conservative candidates for public office must not only run against a human opponent, but also must withstand a massive left-oriented consensus establishment that weaponizes information.

“Those who tell the stories rule society,” said Plato centuries ago.

“Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture,” said Allen Ginsberg more recently.

Neil Postman, in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Penguin Books, 1985), argued that “TV is turning all public life (education, religion, politics, journalism) into entertainment.” The result is that “image is undermining all forms of communication, particularly the written word.”

Further, “our bottomless appetite” for TV is leading to an “information glut” so that “what is truly meaningful is lost and we no longer care what we’ve lost as long as we are being amused,” added Andrew Postman in his introduction to his father’s book.

Neil Postman reflected on Aldous Huxley and his dystopian book Brave New World. According to Postman, Huxley was telling us that “people will come to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”

Camille Paglia says Postman saw that “the young would therefore inherit a frantically all-consuming culture of glitz, gossip, and greed.”

The Consensus Establishment eagerly promotes such a culture.

The Bible foresees a time when people are easily led into lies and delusion by the spirit of antichrist. (2 Thessalonians 2) We seem to be living in such an age. 

As I have noted in previous columns, the Consensus Establishment consists of five elites: Information, Entertainment, Academic, Political, and Corporate. In my book, Two Men From Babylon: Trump, Nebuchadnezzar, and the Lord of History (Thomas Nelson/Emanate, 2020), I have compared this powerful conglomerate to the Chaldeans of Babylon in Daniel’s day. Under Nebuchadnezzar they defined and enforced Babylonian political correctness.

Today the elites of the Consensus Establishment are in agreement among themselves about how reality works and what we should be influenced and even forced to think and believe.

Woe be to those who are threats to that mighty coalition of elites. To refuse to yield to their consensus is to be “cancelled.”

Political correctness has thus morphed into the “cancel-culture” beast. Rod Dreher has this in mind in his book, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents. (Sentinel, 2020).  There he writes, “I am not at liberty to thank some of those who helped me research this book, because it would put them at risk of retaliation in the workplace... None of these anonymous helpers live in the former Soviet bloc; all are Americans.”

In a review of Dreher’s book in National Review, Daniel Flynn says that “many Americans (already) cannot live out loud... because revealing oneself comes at great expense.”

Dreher believes that we in the West are living already “under decadent, pre-totalitarian conditions” that make our society “vulnerable to the totalitarian temptation to which both Russia and Germany succumbed in the previous century.”

The bottom line: If Biden and Harris win in November, the left that dominates the Consensus Establishment will be in power in the United States for a long time, shaping the consensus through its powerful manipulative tools.

They will be able to perpetuate their worldview across generations, impacting not just the contemporary moment, but history itself.

We are thus living in a seriously dangerous moment. The left warns about an effort by Donald Trump to hold on to the presidency even if he loses the vote. But the American people must also keep a steady watch on the Consensus Establishment that will continue telling the “stories” —

forming the accepted narrative and controlling the “images.”

Yet the answer is not for the church to lean more heavily on the right-wing. The passion for profit is as powerful as the progressivist forces that propel the left.

The only way to keep from being swept into these constricting, distorting worldviews is to focus beyond them, to Transcendent Truth.

Perhaps never has it been more important for the church to hold to the highest view of the Bible’s inspiration and authority. The bottom line is that the leftward Consensus Establishment strives to direct our socio-cultural concepts away from scriptural foundations to their own value system and worldview.

The early church in first century Athens had to face elitist philosophers whose beguiling sophistries would have snuffed out “the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:1-3) In Rome, the infant church had to minister in a city and empire ruled over by mighty elites eager to take the “cancel” idea to its fullest expression in the Colosseum.

The Bible-based church must hold its ground in this present age. She must distinguish herself from a right-wing consensus that would too eagerly abandon principle for the sake of pragmatism, and a left-wing consensus that has turned from transcendent principle to secular progressivism and idealism.

The road ahead will be hard, and the church and the people who are its “living stones” (1 Peter 2:1-5) must take seriously Paul’s admonition to “stand firm” against the mighty elites and their establishments. (Ephesians 6)

Wallace Henley is a former pastor, White House and congressional aide, and author of more than 25 books. His newest is Two Men From Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Trump, and the Lord of History, published by Thomas Nelson.

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