St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Monday, January 27, 2003 ::

Myths About the Search for Knowledge

Josh Claybourn has a great post that I've reprinted here with my own thoughts at the end:

Thinking you know the truth is arrogant and intolerant: This really comes down to a matter of fact versus opinion. When you believe something is fact, and many who find pieces of "truth" do, then offering it up is not arrogant or intolerant. Consider an extreme example. If someone has fallen asleep on train tracks and a train is headed toward her, it is not intolerant for someone to warn her. Similarly, for religions that believe one is headed to hell unless certain beliefs/actions change, I'm not the least bit offended that they would want to "save" me.

The important thing in life isn't having truth, but searching for it: Circular reasoning at its best. Doesn't that mean you've found the important thing already, so there's no need to search?

Faith hinders the search for truth because it gets in the way of reasoning: If you believe this to be truth, I have a challenge for you. Imagine someone says to you, "All reasoning is bologna." That person is wrong, but can you prove it?

There isn't any truth: Er, except for that truth, that there isn't get the picture. When someone says this just ask, "Oh wow, is that true?"

Maybe truth exists, but we can't find it: Except we can find the truth that one doesn't exist, right? Gosh, all this circular reasoning is making me dizzy.

Maybe we can find out some truth, but not the biggest and most important things: Perhaps the most valid argument, and one that requires more room to address (for another day).

Truth is whatever you sincerely believe: I believe you're sincerely wrong. *End Quote*

The first statement really grabbed my attention because it is a common complaint made against the Orthodox when discussions of ecclesiology get heated. When the Orthodox say "there is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church that is unified in faith, doctrine, and life and has been for 2000 years," more often than not the impression made is that Orthodox people are somehow claiming personal credit for this truth! Far from it! Now, it can be said that Orthodox people, while claiming the truth of the Church, can be arrogant, prideful and triumphalistic about it. But, while this is a sin, this action does not nullify the truth of the claim itself.

My other thought is on the last statement, "Truth is whatever you sincerely believe." My question is what similarities does the statement "Church is whatever you sincerely want it to be" have in common with this, as this is a common refrain among my postmodernist Evangelical friends? Are we free to reinvent the fundamental nature of the church's life and teachings, as long as we sincerely believe in them? If there is no visible boundary to the Church's teachings, worship or faith, why even be a Christian? (as opposed to a Muslim or just nice, tolerant, secular humanist or deist).

:: Karl :: 2:21:00 PM [Link] ::

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