Summary: We are living in a whatever world -- a culture in which truth has been stripped of its meaning and replaced with personal preference.
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Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"
"If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." "But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled. Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?”
"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king.
In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came
into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the
side of truth listens to me."
And Pilate said: “Whatever.”
OK, that’s not the word he used in verse 38, but that’s precisely what he would have said today if he were trying to capture the same thought. Our Bibles translate the words: “What is truth?” but the spirit of his statement be captured in that one word which we hear so much today: whatever.
That word “whatever” has become verbal shorthand for a particular response to life. It is a sigh of resignation, a denial of meaning and purpose. When a person offers you a response of “whatever,” they are essentially saying that the topic doesn’t matter, their response doesn’t matter, or perhaps you don’t matter.
We are living in a whatever world -- a culture in which truth has been stripped of its meaning and replaced with personal preference.
What does a whatever world look like? It’s an age, a culture in which all ideas, all lifestyles, all behaviors are considered of equal value.
~ You cheat, I don’t. Whatever – what’s valid for me isn’t necessarily valid for you.
~ Frank worships Jesus, Terry worships Buddha, Sheila worships the goddess Sophia, and Bud worships the tree in his backyard. Whatever -- all religions are the same. What’s true for you may not be true for me. It doesn’t really matter what you believe so long as you’re sincere.
Some call it postmodernism, but the relativism that seems so characteristic of our age isn’t all that new. It’s as old as Pilate, playing politics on Good Friday. As old as the Romans, who didn’t care if those early Christians worshiped Jesus, so long as they also worshiped Caesar. It’s as old as Eden, where a smooth-talking serpent convinced the residents that one tree is pretty much the same as another, no matter what God may have said.
Yet never before has the spirit of whatever been so pervasive and destructive of an age and a culture. As one commentator has observed, “Reality isn’t what it used to be.”
That’s the idea behind Walter Truett Anderson’s example of the three baseball umpires. One says with certainty, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I call ‘em the way they are.” The second umpire, with a bit less assurance, says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I call ‘em the way I see ‘em.” The third umpire, a thoroughgoing postmodernist, says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and they ain’t nothin’ until I call ‘em.” So reality is boiled down to what I perceive it to be, and nothing more.
Although few people would frame it in precisely those words, that’s the prevailing worldview in the western world: you can believe whatever you want because all ideas are pretty much equal. There’s no authoritative truth to which we all hold; each person becomes his or her own authority, determining our own values, our own beliefs, our own truth. If reality is simply a human construction, no better or worse than what others have constructed, then the appropriate response can be nothing more or less than: whatever. And that is indeed how we have responded:
The Barna Research Group, through its surveys, show us the result of such a worldview: