The ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16) says: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” We understand this commandment to require that a Christian not only refrains from lying about others, but also that we do not twist someone else’s words—there goes about 40% of the internet—that we refrain from backbiting, slander, condemning one unheard or rashly. Rather, “on pain of God’s heavy wrath, I avoid all lying and deceit as the very works of the devil” and even when it comes to matters on which there might be some reasonable disagreement or legal questions “and in all other affairs” we are to “love, speak honestly and confess the truth” and more than that, we’re to “defend and promote” our neighbor’s good name (Heidelberg Catechism 112). The ninth commandment, however, also requires that we confess and defend the very existence of truth in an age when the notion that there is truth and that truth is distinct from error is widely doubted.
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