“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1.21-24)
As finite creatures, we cannot fully conceive of an Infinite God in all his Truth. Even his revelation is but partial and enigmatic. His truth, then, exists less like the center of a target, and more like various spectrums and tensions in which we exist. On this side of eternity, we live and speak in dialectics where for every point of doctrine in one denomination there seems to exist a counterpoint in another. Truth is not the Lockean notion of our relating to an objective body of facts, but is the point at which two seemingly opposing or paradoxical ideas exist in tension and harmony (such as Jesus = God + Man).
Thinking of these “truth spectrums” while looking at 1 Corinthians, there seem to be two possible errors we can fall into when thinking about theological truth: “over-objectification” which makes this spectrum too narrow, and “over-subjectification” which makes it too broad.
I’m currently reading through The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Early in the book, there is a scene where the entire Karamzov clan goes to meet with this elder priest to solve some disputes amongst themselves. Of course, being a Russian novel, before they can get to the actual disputes they engage in various forms of political and theological philosophizing for a few chapters. One of the brothers, Ivan, has one of his ideas brought up concerning moral differences between Christians and Non-christians. The elder hears this and immediately identifies it for what it is: an over-intellectualization to help explain away tensions and mysteries existing in Ivan’s heart that he can’t stop wrestling.
As any reader of my writings knows, in the past year or so I have been absolutely taken captive by the truth that Christianity, and therefore the Christian life itself, is fundamentally an exercise in holding tensions and living within mysteries that have no real answer in this life. As Peter Rollins says in the amazing book The Fidelity of Betrayal: “doubt is intimately tied up with faith, because the deep truth of faith gives birth to doubt.” In other words, only the true believer has experienced something in their heart that they can doubt in the first place. Unbelievers don’t doubt, they just don’t believe. But we Christians follow our forefather Jacob whose blessing was to wrestle with God and receive the very name Israel, which means “He wrestles with God”.
By the time I finished the next article in the series, it was substantive enough and socially-oriented enough to warrant being posted on my webzine Reform & Revive. The previous post was on on how secular Philosophy can inform our view of ethics and contribute to the discussion of Slavery, Atheism, and the Bible. This one is about how Christian theological ethics can uniquely inform our ethics in modern times. The article covers a LOT of ground and is the longest one I’ve written yet in this series. Hopefully that’s not a turn off. This article has more of my thought concerning truth and Biblical interpretation than perhaps any one article I’ve ever written contains. Here’s the link:
It seems in light of my earlier post I’ve decided to pour more of myself into this series, rather than just quickly finishing it off. Hopefully it’s helpful.
Lastly, I keep getting private emails, texts, and messages from Christians talking about how much they’re enjoying this series, and how helpful it is to them, but hardly any Christians are publicly commenting. I’m getting tons of comments from my atheist friends, though. Discrepancy? I think so. If you have a thought, please leave it. It could be really helpful to get more input on this and diversity of thought on this.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement. It means a lot.
Hey, just wanted to write a quick note letting you all know that my new article is up on GoingToSeminary.com. This is Part 2 of a very unofficial series I’m doing on Truth and Doctrine. The first part went up about a week and half ago, and had some great feedback on it. This article is getting mostly positive feedback, though maybe I wasn’t as clear on this one. I would love some more feedback. By the way, Beauty Part 10, should be up in the next few minutes. Here’s the link to the GtS article:
Check out the rest of my Going To Seminary posts.