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Subject to Revision

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Tonight, just before heading into my room for the night, I am in my office reading a book “The Skeptical Believer”.  While reading, one paragraph in particular, caught my attention.  When speaking on the issue of truth or rather the question “what is truth”, the author commented that the answer to that question is “likely to be answered in many different ways, that the answer is less likely to be one enormous assertion and more likely to be a mosaic of many little answers, each hard-won, each subject to revision…”.

The part that really stood out was that our assertions were subject to revision.  How many times have I failed to commit to something on the basis of fear that I might get it wrong.  This fear of failing, of getting it wrong, often paralyzes me and prevents the learning that results from trying and getting it wrong.  When I let the fear freeze me, then I have failed.  What I should understand is that we make decisions using the best knowledge we have at the time.  If it turns out that a better decision could have been made, then we adjust where we can and get on down the road.

That is what creates success and sustains our momentum in this life.

P.S. This is a second revision to what I wrote tonight in my journal.

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The Challenge of Leading Someone to the Truth of Christ

Today, as I was preparing for my first test the Introduction to Theology Program, I ran across a statement regarding our postmodern culture.  For those who do not understand the term postmodern, it espouses that there is no ultimate truth.  This thought methodology leads the culture into relativistic beliefs of truth.  In other words the postmodern would say, “what’s true for me is true for me and whats true for you is true for you, even though my truth may disclaim yours or yours mine.”

Here is the statement:

Christians today cannot work with the same assumptions that we did just 20 years ago.  At that time, people would join you in your search for absolute truth.  It is different now.  Today, before we begin to lead people to the truth of Jesus Christ, we may have to lead them to the truth of truth.  Common ground must be created before the Gospel can be proclaimed.  (Introduction to Theology, Credo House Ministries, 2011)

I think that as we move along in time, we should be educating ourselves in such a way that prepares us to face these types of challenges head on.  The truth of the statement was confirmed for me while flying at the airlines.  I would have many conversations with people about my faith and a higher percentage of the pilots I flew with had a postmodern, relative mindset.  Because of this, it was difficult to reach them with respect to the Christian faith.


Skepticism and Me

I would have to call myself a skeptic at least on some level.  This is the way I have described myself for a while and its because I question everything.  I want to know the who, what, when, where and why of almost everything.  Basically, I want sources to back up claims of fact and claims of truth.  Does it make me guarded?  Yes.  Is that bad?  Well, it depends.

The following word picture describes this best I think.  It is not my own but it came from a lecture in a theology class I am taking.  

Think of having your property surrounded by fence both front and back.  There is one gate and it is usually closed with a guard standing there ready to defend against unauthorized entry.  A long line of people, beliefs, theories etc, are wanting in.  Indeed there are already some who are inside the fences.  The ones who are standing outside wanting in must be thoroughly evaluated for their worthiness to be allowed in.  Once proved worthy, the gate opens enough to let that one in and then promptly shuts to block the others out.  In some cases the ones that are inside must be kicked out and re-evaluated before being allowed back in.  

That is my process in a nutshell.  I am best served by not allowing the gates to be wide open (naivety) and by not allowing the gates to remain firmly shut forever (strictly dogmatic).  Instead, I must find that middle ground where every single thought, idea, claim, whatever wants in, must be examined.  My gate can be opened but whatever it is opened for and that which remains inside, must continue to pass the test.  As my instructor put it, “My beliefs are too important to give in so easily”.

This leads into one of the other books I am currently reading called The Skeptical Believer by Daniel Taylor.  In it he wrestles with what he calls his inner atheist, that doubting voice.  He calls himself not just a skeptic and not just a believer but instead a combination of the two.  He is a skeptical believer and I would say that I am as well.

The Theology Program that I am enrolled in and the books I am reading associated with this course of study is helping me come to terms with my doubt.  It has, to a certain degree, been a weight lifted knowing that doubt is alright so long as it is kept on a leash.  This course of study is already reshaping my mind, allowing for a more mature approach to scriptures and the beliefs that follow.  Though for a while I bought in to the idea that I should follow my heart, there is quite enough evidence from the world and in scripture that suggests the heart is a poor guide at best.  

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17-9, ESV)

I’ll end this with a few quotes from The Skeptical Beleiver:

“I am going to argue that doubt is entirely compatible with faith.  In fact, it is required.  If you doubt nothing, you are not exercising faith at all, because you think you have certainty.”

 

“To skepticism, I say ‘sometimes, but with reservations.'”

 

“Be as skeptical about skepticism as skepticism is about everything else”

And Finally:

“…take some comfort that the water walker and the doubter and the denier and the apostle and the martyr are all the same person.  Peter was both skeptic and saint–a combination that holds out hope for me.”

 

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If we are honest with ourselves…

“…if we are honest with ourselves, from time to time, we find the light being turned on in our world, and we are amazed (and sometimes embarrassed) at what we see.  It isn’t that we don’t know that certain things are not right.  We just don’t realize how destructive these things are until the light comes on.” (McGee, Robert. The Search for Significance. 2003)


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