Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Certainly Not: Part Two

So basically, the idea so far is that the imperfect aspect of our humanity demands that we are wrong in some area of our theology. The problem is, we don't know what those areas are, and we'll never reach a perfectly tuned theology. I'm assuming that you're with me up to this point, the area in which we might diverge is in how to respond to this quite troubling realization of our fallible humanity. How should we respond?

There are four (probably more) ways to respond to our "theological fallibility"...

1. Uncertainty
2. Humility
3. Openness
4. Conversation

First, let's look at uncertainty. This response is a glass-half-empty, pessimistic theology. Uncertainty avoids making propositional truth claims (especially metanarratives), and can never fully define with certainty the finer (even essential) points of it's theology. Uncertainty doesn't like an ABC ducks-in-a-row theology, and is skeptical of any matter-of-fact theologian. Uncertainty revels in the mystery of God, and doesn't like to put Him in a box, no matter how over-sized. This type of person openly admits to not having everything figured out - and is perfectly content to keep it that way.

I think this response - blanket uncertainty - fails in it's inability to differentiate between black, gray, and white. For example, I KNOW my wife's name is Emily. I KNOW she's 4' 11''. I KNOW she is an interpreter, and I KNOW that she is (at this moment) sleeping soundly in another part of the house. What may not be as tangible is her love for me, respect of me, and loyalty to me. I know these latter things are true, I just know experientially as opposed to intellectually.

What's interesting to me is that the most certain things in life (e.g. that wall is blue) are the most inconsequential. It is the not-as-certain things which carry the most weight (e.g. does my wife really love me?). But I digress, the point is that there are some things which we can be certain about, and then there are other things which require a bit more caution (duh). Thus, blanket uncertainty is like pulling out a rocket launcher during a rubber band fight - slight over-reaction.

Part Three will take a look at some other ways to respond to this "theological fallibility" dilemma.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that uncertainty is not an acceptable response to the reality of our imperfection. Do I get the impression that (sinful, imperfect) men in the Bible were certain about specific truths about God? Was Moses certain that the LORD was the one and only true God that Israel ought to trust and obey? Did he expect them to know and be certain about specific truths? Certainly! :)

    32. "For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of.
    33. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live?
    34. Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
    35. To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.
    36. Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire.
    37. And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power,
    38. driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day,
    39. know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
    40. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time."
    -Deut. 4, ESV