The Problem of Fake News and False Views
Some people have blamed television, the internet, or their nosy neighbor for all the fake news in the world, but while such information outlets have no doubt accelerated the spread of misinformation, the problem of fake news has existed since ancient times. The problem of fake news and false views has persisted throughout our history, whether in the shape of conflicting accounts of historical events, unfulfilled predictions about the future, or false notions of what is fact and what is fiction. However, in the modern age of astounding technological advances that allow virtually any information to be accessed and spread like wildfire, it is not only impossible to take it all in, but it is also very often difficult to recognize what information is true and what is false.
Cause for concern
But we as Christians have also had our own share of fake news and false views make their way into the church, infiltrating our congregations, oftentimes ever so subtly, in the form of false teachings contrary to biblical Christianity. This should be deeply concerning for us, for Christianity by nature has a deep concern for truth.
The earliest known fake news report traces back to ancient Egypt when, in the 13th century BC, Rameses the Great falsely propagated the idea that the Egyptians achieved a great victory in the Battle of Kadesh when, in reality, the battle actually ended in a stalemate. See William Weir, History’s Greatest Lies: The Startling Truths Behind World Events Our History Books Got Wrong (Beverly: Fair Winds Press, 2009), 28-41. Weir calls the battle “at best a face-saving draw” (30).