Every now and then someone will stand up in the media or in the church and rehash the old science vs faith debate. I often feel like the discussion is more about power than truth – the power to sway people into a certain direction of blind obedience. These discussions will use terminology like “truth” and “reason” and simply assume everyone is on the same page. Also, of course, these discussions will often assume that faith is a matter of epistemology, of knowledge without proof, rather than of a life lived before God.
So today I was thinking about the discussion (since it recently popped up in church) and what people understand by “truth”. Yes, all “truth” comes from God but followers of Jesus see truth as a Person and not an item of knowledge.
A book that I read a couple of years ago: The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context by Myron Bradley Penner, came to mind. (BTW: I am an Amazon Associate so if you buy via the link, I will get some money to buy more books.) The book is an exceptional read – well discussed and reasoned. It points to some of the fundamental issues in relation to rationally defending the Christian faith. To be honest, while the author does a great job defining the problem, his solution (for me) is not as convincing.
So in his defining the problem, he writes:
In the modern philosophical paradigm, then, reason forms what I will call the “objective-universal-neutral complex” (OUNCE).Myron Bradley Penner. The End of Apologetics (p. 32).
I like the acronym OUNCE. This modern philosophical paradigm wants “truth” to stay at arm’s length. Truth, when encountered, does not change me – it is altogether outside of me and completely independent of me. And it is that independence of me that makes it the truth. But is the truth really truth when it is not truth for me?
I want to explore this further. And I want to explore the connection that modern Christianity makes between objective truth and God, often making the two equivalent. It is not the truth about Jesus that brings me into a relationship with Him but the encounter and experience of the very Person of Jesus. Fundamentally I think there is a difference between knowing something to be true and experiencing that truth in my life. Maybe this quote from T.S. Eliot puts it best:
Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.
I want to embrace the paradox and not run away from it. Because it is in the paradox that I meet Jesus.