Tuesday, May 25, 2010

False Assurance And the First Commandment -- Klaus Guenther

So six blind men of Hindustan
disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
exceeding stiff and strong;
Though each was partly in the right,
they all were in the wrong!

- Six Wise Men of Hindustan

Earlier today, a friend posted a quote as her status message that motivated me to reflect on faith, truth, etc. What worries me is that I may be serving a god of my own invention.

How much do we really believe that God matters? Who is God? What is God? And how much do we care?

God is not only the author of truth, he is the truth itself. That statement might seem to be obvious, and most people say it without thinking. Yet it has far-reaching consequences. For example, believing that the Bible is true is not the same thing as believing that God is the truth. God, as the truth himself, must express himself in a manner that is true to his very nature - the truth. It is impossible for him to lie. However, it is very easy for us to misunderstand his word, as communication is by nature a very fickle thing.

What God has revealed to us of himself allows us to know him, yet like a photograph behind glass, it reflects our own image back at us. Many Christians see the reflected image and are convinced that they know God, ignoring the image that is etched beneath the reflective surface. In so doing, they create a god of their own desiring, one based firmly on scripture.

If God is the truth (and conversely, the truth is God, which is a logical conclusion given the fact that God has primacy), the pursuit of the truth suddenly takes on a new urgency. The truth cannot be influenced by our hopes, wants, and desires. Seeking the truth, no matter how uncomfortable, takes priority over all other wants of our limited existence.

You may have noticed that I intentionally use the definite article the before truth. This is important, as while there are many truths (observations that we hold to be true), there is only one truth. We can speak of our environment in terms of truth, yet all that we know is that our senses and instruments have observed certain properties. If you ask an ordinary person about the size of the universe, you will get a different answer than if you ask an astrophysicist - and the latter will usually tell you that there is an amount of uncertainty as to whether his answer is right. The more we know about the universe we live in, the more ignorant we realize ourselves to be.

The same applies to our pursuit of the truth. Instead of knowledge of the truth puffing us up, as assumed knowledge is bound to do, it humbles us as we recognize the limits of our feeble attempts at observation. Much of the time we talk about recognizing truth. The problem with this is that recognition requires preconceptions. And how do we know whether our preconceptions of truth are valid? Would it not be better to use the analytical powers of observation to discover what really is rather than rejecting those things that do not fit our preconceived notions?

Refining one's faith is all about proving it. While most people define "proving" as finding scriptures to back themselves up, this is basically nothing more than finding one's own reflection in the glass. We must challenge our beliefs, not thinking anything too sacred. If there is so much as one scripture that disagrees, it's back to the drawing board, as we have discovered dross.

Therefore, I am not worried about people challenging my faith. In fact, I welcome it. I may be wrong, they may be wrong - most likely we both are. However, we need to be willing to shed everything for the sake of the truth. The most believable lie is the one that is 99% true. It is the reflection on the glass of things I recognize. Therefore, there is no stone that I dare leave unturned, no doctrine unchallenged.

What worries me most is that the god I serve may be one of my own devising.

I would rather know that I am going to hell even if I can do nothing about it, than rest falsely assured that I'm going to heaven.

(Used with Permission)

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