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All Truth is God's Truth... or...

My maxim has long been that "All truth is God’s truth" and I’ve attempted to live in such a way to demonstrate that belief. I was responding to a friend’s blog the other day when I suddenly stopped and questioned one of my core beliefs. I asked:

Surely our ability to deal with the truth we have (what we do with knowledge) is more important than what knowledge we have?

Now that I phrase it like that, I wonder how it fits into the creation stories. What do people in the community think? Is knowledge (such as ”the knowledge of good and evil”) sinful in itself or does it take willfull action based on that to become sinful?

Original post here

I began to consider knowledge and sin in light of James 1:13-15:

When someone is tempted, he should not say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ because God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Instead, each person is tempted by his own desire, being lured and trapped by it. When that desire becomes pregnant, it gives birth to sin; when that sin grows up, it gives birth to death (ISV)

I originally considering that James’ theology would have us believe that thought processes, such as desire or knowledge, are not sin. But James doesn’t seem to want me to read that into his work…He is clearly talking about temptation rather than knowledge.

I don’t know the creation stories (Gen 1-3, John 1:1-18) as well as I would like, but a casual reading in English translations leads to the belief that an act of disobedience caused the fall, and that disobedience was gaining knowledge (cf the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). So, does knowing all God’s truth constitute sin? Without the fall, would it have been possible for humanity to gain all of God’s truth?

Are knowledge and disobedience intrinsically linked?

Back to the main point, in light of all of this and our post-modern context, does anyone else agree that "all truth is God”s truth"? What are your experiences in dealing with issues of righteousness and knowledge? and what praxis can we build from it?

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Distinguish ends from by-products

I don’t think that just because “knowledge” resulted from disobedience, that gaining knowledge was disobedience. It was the eating of the fruit that was prohibited, not gaining knowledge (which could be acquired in any number of nonprohibited ways).

In light of our post-modern context, I would say things like these: God is always true. As we come to know him better, our knowledge of right and wrong change. We should be especially suspicious of acts that “everyone knows” are righteous, since for us truth is socially constructed; it is important to know what social group is determining righteousness, not just that “everyone” has.

Why is this postmodern? If

Why is this postmodern? If it was postmodern it would be something like to know God is to realise many truths relative to each other and that there is no single truth. It is not just that there is more revelation to come, but that revelation dissolves into numbers of possibilities. Now this would be postmodern.


Relativism < Postmodernism

You seem to identify postmodernism with relativism (just one of several postmodern paths). I maintain that it is postmodernism to accept a single truth, or to accept many truths, philosophically; the postmodernism is to say that we can only know those truths subjectively. Knowledge can be revealed, and more knowledge can be revealed later. This knowledge is not objective, but is subjective—mediated and conditioned. Nevertheless, since all our knowledge is subjective, this per se should not prejudice us. Not all subjective knowledge is equal. My knowledge that my wife likes Cadbury’s chocolate may be subjective, conditioned, mediated, and socially constructed—yet it remains real knowledge. What I have yet to learn about my wife may be a number of possibilities, but other possibilities are excluded.

No binary division

As I understand it, postmodernism dissolves the objective-subjective polarity. When everything is subjective, nothing is subjective (it has no binary opposite - which would be structuralism whereas this is poststructural).

Of course, you or I may be committed to one “truth” rather than another, but there is no external basis for this available.

This is different from the Isaiah Berlin position which was about competing objective truths, which was a harder form of liberalism. The postmodern position says that they are not objective, and there is not objectivity available (and thus no subjective limitation).


Critical realism: postpostmodernism

It seems we are arguing over what postmodernism “really” is, and you appear to have a larger section of society agreeing with your construction than mine. I think of critical realism as a postmodern philosophy, but I see you are not alone in seeing it as a post-postmodern philosophy.

Knowledge is Experience

I agree that the knowledge resulted from the choice. But also, it may make since here to distinguish two types of knowledge. One that is an understanding, and one that is experience. God is all-knowing, but does not necessarily experience or dwell in sin, as sin does not exist in the presence of a Holy God. I would say that in the case of knowledge of both good and now evil, mankind now experienced sin, in the same way that “Adam KNEW Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain” (Gen 4:1) and in the same way that we are “to KNOW the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph 3:19)

Some will not EXPERIENCE GOD:

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16They profess that they KNOW GOD; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:15,16)

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:22)

To which comes the reply:

I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23)

Truth and context

The phrase ‘all truth is God’s truth’ is polemical, it belongs to a particular debate - a response, presumably, to the post-enlightenment tendency to separate out realms of thought into different categories such as religious and scientific. So rather than treat it simply as a universally true proposition that can be brandished with equal effect under any circumstances, I would suggest that we have to ask about the rhetorical and argumentative conditions under which the statement is made. This in itself is a postmodern insight: propositions may have a situational relevance that is lost or distorted when the context changes or when we try to universalize the statement.

The same principle applies to the creation stories. We have to consider what questions the ancient community would have been trying to answer. What sort of philosophical-religious debate is presupposed by the story about knowledge and disobedience? What alternative narratives were current that needed to be countered in the light of a covenantal monotheism?

That suggests a further point. It seems to me that what must have priority is our commitment to a certain definition of - or story about - God. This perspective or presumption must remain visible in our conversations about truth. This is the sense in which I would understand myself as postmodern: I don’t particularly need to argue for an absolute form of truth or defend some such blanket statement as ‘all truth is God’s truth’; but I need to admit that I see the world as someone who believes himself to have been invited into a community that tells a particular story about itself. We have to have the debate about whether or to what extent that story interferes with or contradicts the other epistemological commitments that we have but we don’t need to prejudge the outcomes of that debate.

All truth etc.

A couple of thoughts occur to me on you comments, Andrew. First - the need to explore the context of propositions seems to me be part of the project of modernism as much as postmodernism. Hence the modernist obsession with historical context, authorial intention and the historical Jesus etc. So is this a step forwards or backwards? Second, the need to admit and bring visibility to the particularity of the story of the community to which we are committed seems to side-step absolutist propositions such as ‘all truth is God’s truth’, until we run into the issue of the biblical narrative being one that makes overarching claims about itself, and creates its own community as much as being the product of a particular narrative forming community. Help me if I’m missing the point. Which I probably am through not paying sufficient attention to the thread. I just logged on as a displacement activity - to get away from drawing up rotas for our church’s youth acitivities in September. Don’t ask me how I got that job. I wish I knew.

Sorry to interrupt your labours

Sorry to interrupt your labours…

1. Perhaps the issue with propositions and context then is what is done with the contextualization once meaning has been established. Does the statement remain more or less contextualized, restricted in its scope and application by the argumentative setting (postmodern)? Or do we feel that we have reason or obligation to generalize from the particular to the universal (modern)? In any case, I wouldn’t say that drawing on ‘modernist’ approaches to truth is necessarily a step backwards. What I think we are looking for is a better interplay between language and reality, between text and context, between narrative and history. That interplay is compromised if we are too anxious, too hasty, to draw general or absolute conclusions. It is for me a matter of integrity that we acknowledge that particularity, the narrowness, the oddity, of our belief system among the countless other belief systems that flourish in western society. It is the belief system that we have chosen - or that has chosen us.

2. I suppose this could appear as internally contradictory, but I want to say that we need to claim only that this is an overarching narrative for the community of believers - and even then on the basis not primarily of assent to propositional truth but of having been determined by covenant and history. I tell the story confidently because I have confidence in the God who has made me part of the story. Why should someone who does not feel herself to have been invited into that story want to tell the story as though it were true? That would be intellectually dishonest. At the heart of this epistemology is not reason or rationality but ‘election’ or ‘vocation’.

Welcome interruptions

That’s quite all right, Andrew. After I’d done a 40 letter mail-out by midday (we have a labyrinthine system of rotas), my next job was the monthly propaganda organ - a magazine called ‘Community Connections’: creatively concocted accounts of what is going on in the church community interspersed with challenging or arresting items culled from the internet.

Do you think Paul or any of the other apostles would have avoided execution if they had been postmoderns? (Or were they operating in the different groundrules of a pre AD 70 scenario?). They must have said something which upset those outside their own communities.

Do you get my point?

Do you get my point? To what extent are aspects of the postmodern project (eg as reflected in some of the immediately preceding comments) recasting the biblical narrative in a way that make it something quite different from its 1st century antecedents? I realise that is rather a large question, but it looms also over the broader philosophical presuppositions of structuralist approaches to biblical criticism, and their offspring - deconstruction. We may see ourselves like Don Cupitt, sitting in an impenetrable cave telling each other stories, but just about every other line of the biblical narrative speaks of a transcendent voice speaking through the rock’s supposed impenetrability - and if you like, the potential (and I would argue, imperative) of the narrative to speak to other groups of people sitting in their own supposedly impenetrable caves,

Couldn't agree more

I couldn’t agree more with you on the conversational imperative, Peter. I find an interesting irony about that identification of language games. I think Wittgenstein and Cupitt are actually on to something profoudly important in identifying the ways in which these different faith (and other) stories live in linguistic communities. They highlight the issues and potential problems of communication in ways complementary to something like Habermas’s Ideal Speech Situation.

Yet, for all the theoretical and actual problems, I am also constantly struck by the very piblic and permeable nature of story. On a common or garden level, postmodern society is a society that is fascinated by story. There is probably now more real and widespread communication than ever before. This is why I find Pluralist’s intra-communitarian reconstruction of resurrection so unconvincing. It was public discourse - the language of kerygma.

Perhaps it is a function of language that it is essentially barrier-crossing rather than apocalyptic (ie understandable only to the initiates)?

Don Cupitt's cave

The cave inhabited by Don Cupitt has a front door, side door and back door. There are many windows, some with frosty glass and many clear. It has been redecorated several times and had some structural work. The living room has been done in a nice shade of Buddha, the kitchen has Christianity as a splash wall behind the cooker and the bedroom has some comforting shades of humanism.

In postmodernist John Milbank’s cave, the one door that exists has been bolted, the windows have been bricked in and boarded up, and although the house is decorated in pure Christianity throughout the light bulb has bust and no one can see anything.


I like it ...

Hahaha! Witty and insightful, Pluralist. I remember some marvellously heated and controversial seminars with Cupitt. I personally ahve no time for the non-realist stuff as anything like a satisfactory understanding of God’s being, but I understood what he was on about in his insistence on the essentially ethical shape of Christian faith when I was hrlping to run WinterComfort, a charity for homeless people in that city. We ran a night shelter (in the Unitarian Church - none of the mainstream Christian churches would give us floor space in their sacred sanctuaries). The shelter was staffed by volunteers. The greatest difficulty was getting volunteers for the “graveyard shift” - 3am-5am. And guess who turned up faithfully, noislessly, regularly and unsung on his bicycle? Every week? The man who who truly understood how Christian faith shapes life and action!

As for Milbank, I’d agree with your characterisation 100%. Yet it’s not Christianity as either Jesus or Cupitt would understand it …

Of course they said things

Of course they said things that upset people outside their communities, but who’s to decide whether the dominant culture gets upset or not - or what it gets upset about. The primary question is whether we are allowed to live consistently under the lordship of Christ. If we are allowed to, why not just enjoy doing it and not get worried about not being persecuted. We don’t have to be in conflict with the world: we do have to be faithful to the covenant commitment that we have made and which sets us apart as a community.

Your hypothetical question about Paul and the apostles being postmodern is anachonistic - modernism hadn’t happened yet. Perhaps in the Graeco-Roman world they were post-pagan or post-imperialist or post-Augustan.

Persecution complexes

I like the idea of freedeom from persecution complexes, Andrew! I think, further, that churches could do a lot more postmodern playing than we do! Far too many Christians seem to think that being stressed out and anxious is somehow a sign of godliness.

However, I find myself with a sneaking feeling that the Church ought to find itself at loggerheads with the dominant culture. I assume that any dominant culture will exercise certain kinds of power by virtue of its dominance. I assume, further, that it will also necessarily create victims, and that it is part of our Christian story to identify with and struggle with these victims.

So I’d be interested to know whether you’d want to modify your comments to specify what sorts of opposition are necessary or intrinsic to the gospel, and what aren’t.

Paraphrasing and Amplifying + new questions

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your interaction on this thread so far. Let me try to re-work the concept and ask some new questions having being informed by your comments.

:: Regarding our ability to know truth ::

Pluralist and Chris have been questioning the post-modern position on truth.

From Pluralist:

As I understand it, postmodernism dissolves the objective-subjective polarity. When everything is subjective, nothing is subjective (it has no binary opposite - which would be structuralism whereas this is poststructural)…Of course, you or I may be committed to one “truth” rather than another, but there is no external basis for this available.

Chris felt:

You seem to identify postmodernism with relativism (just one of several postmodern paths). I maintain that it is postmodernism to accept a single truth, or to accept many truths, philosophically; the postmodernism is to say that we can only know those truths subjectively.

I don’t feel there can be any theoretical middle ground between these two positions, however I think that in practise we are constantly trying to find some. By dissolving our ability to know seems to dissolve the need (and joy) of questioning and discussion. I’m happy with ambiguity, but it seems to me that if we follow the position outlined by Pluralist, we may as well ignore the entire concept of Christian theology.

  • Is there a theoretical middle ground?
  • What praxis can be build from either of these positions?
  • Pluralist, I understand and appreciate you are moving beyond structuralism. Can I request your feedback regarding your practice based on such a theory?

In order to progress, for now, I’m going to have to work with Chris and Andrew’s ideas of post-modernism.

:: Regarding the story and community ::

I would agree with Andrew that the maxim (and the desire to create such phrases) is essentially a modernist preoccupation. Hopefully this thread will help us to have a look at this one and move beyond it while keeping in touch with the Christian tradition. In fact, I think it was something along this line that caused me to question it in the first place.

Contextutalising, as discussed between Peter Wilkerson and Andrew, has an important part to play in this discussion of truth. Certainly we shouldn’t force our story or the viewpoints embedded in the story onto others, but they should be offered as a valid and worthy option.

Or should we?

What about our role as “light to the world”? — “light” speaking of guiding, illuminating, bringing truth. When people are following a leader they trust and going in a direction they want they will follow that leader. However, people outside of Christ’s story, especially those in power, seldom want the Kingdom of Heaven. So I must agree with Lawrence:

However, I find myself with a sneaking feeling that the Church ought to find itself at loggerheads with the dominant culture. I assume that any dominant culture will exercise certain kinds of power by virtue of its dominance. I assume, further, that it will also necessarily create victims, and that it is part of our Christian story to identify with and struggle with these victims.

The Hebrew prophets started (or at least brought to our attention) a tradition of challenge and disagreement with the dominant culture — religious, political and social. While no man can successfully legislate ethics contextualising our story, our idea of truth, demands we present it. And yes, sometimes forcefully.

Honestly, I prefer the inward looking community to the missional but, as has been repeated ad nauseum, the Christian story demands outreach.

:: Regarding God’s being ::

Andrew brings the argument to “what must have priority is our commitment to a certain definition of - or story about - God. This perspective or presumption must remain visible in our conversations about truth.” And this brings up a very important question:

  • What is God like in regards to truth?

Jesus claimed “I am the way, the truth and the life”; Rather than having knowledge of truth, Jesus claimed to embody truth in his being. The Greek used here for truth, ‘aletheia’, speaks of “reality” or “the way things are”. Perhaps that’s where John’s gospel is linking this with the Word, Logos. This is a key text in my theological basis for believing that God embodies all truth.

  • Is this reasonable?

:: Regarding Praxis ::

Once the theoretical dust settles I’d like to have a look at how we can use this in practice. The idea of social justice and the community’s struggles with oppressors has been looked at, albeit briefly and community service has been mentioned as a way of manifesting Christianity. I think there are some specific questions regarding truth that are faced by those giving spiritual leadership; for example, should I send someone in my spiritual care to a Buddhist psychologist (or any psychologist) if I think it would be of help to them? If all truth is God’s truth, then “everything is good for you if it doesn’t kill you” (N. Finn).

  • When have you struggled/Have you ever struggled with anything like this?
  • What action(s) was taken and did it work?

In regards to making disciples of Christ, I’d regard myself as partly successful if I could help to improve a person’s mental health, financial situation, relationships, etc. If someone used skills I had taught to negotiate a good contract in an ethical manner and continued to do so, I would suggest that that person’s life was Christ-like in that area. Although not fully redeemed, one part is Christ-like. The person is moving towards salvation. Although there are other posts to discuss what salvation is, I’d like to consider:

  • How does our idea of truth impact our evangelism/message?
  • How do we make disciples when all truth is embodied in God?

Pursuing truth further

Just going back to truth as commitment to a particular story: my point in an earlier post was to add that the particularity of the biblical narrative seems to be that it addresses all other stories: it inherently challenges all other stories to become part of its own story! (My anachronism was intended to force this point home in an arresting way).

Unlike Don Cupitt’s cave, which now seems to have become a place which cobbles together all kinds of stories but ceases to have a distinctive story of its own, the biblical narrative is distinctive enough to interact with all other stories about why we are here, where we have come from, where we are going, who we are. In fact it’s designed to do that.

As regards ‘truth’, postmodernism, surely, has shone a different light on the term. For instance, instead of emphasising truth as distinct from falsehood, postmodernism emphasises truth as integrity, authenticity, reality (as mars hill has it); of course Christianity fits within this new context, because Jesus himself embodied this kind of ‘truth’. Furthermore, as his followers, Christians can also expect to have this bedrock quality in their lives. All other religious/faith systems are approximations, reachings-out, shadows, sometimes parodies of the real thing. Not without ‘truth’ in either of these senses, but failing to ‘reach’ truth. The distinctiveness of Christianity, and no doubt its offensiveness to many, even on this site, is that in Jesus, ‘truth’ is said to reside. In this person, God has chosen to embody ‘the truth’ - about himself, about us, etc. This needs to be both lived and proclaimed.

Is there no ‘truth’ out there apart from him? It depends what you are looking for. If you accept the biblical narrative, the whole world, being made by God, is full of God’s ‘truth’; ie it reflects him still, and you can expect to find truth in every aspect of the created world - through science, medicine, biology, poetry, literature, religion, music, liberation movements, etc. The point being made as an extension of truth being located in Jesus is that in whatever area of life and human pursuit we care to look at, there is a falling away and distortion of truth. We need a restoration of ‘true truth’, to put it in Francis Schaeffer’s words. That is where truth needs to find its origins - and it’s embodied in a person. Only by finding our place in relation to this person can we expect to find this kind of truth restored in our lives.

This is why Christianity need never lose confidence. It needs to understand the shape of the container of culture, simply because that is how people will customarily think and understand things. But it’s my contention that the container does not and should not shape the message. Rather, the message is intended to shape the container! That’s why Paul, in the end, got his head chopped off! But it didn’t stop the message shaping the container of the Roman Empire. And having one’s head chopped off isn’t the measure of the message’s authenticity. The measure is whether the message can engage with and transform the prevalent culture. Culture twists and turns, but the uniqueness of the Christian message is that it can enter every form the culture takes, and change it from the inside on its own terms.

Middle Ground and Practice Understood

The middle position would be that of Isaiah Berlin, of liberal competing objective truths, but there is not a religious position as far as I know.

I wrote this: http://www.change.freeuk.com/learning/socthink/isaiahberlin.html
People may be interested in:

Someone like John Hick, who retains objectivity, ends up with an mainly undefined Real. If the real gets defined, it becomes just another position. It has to contain Buddhism and Christianity, so the Real cannot be theism (or is it?).

With liturgical words, I do not “translate” any more as I once did. These are ancient words, many with lost meanings. My theology here is that of Marcel Mauss the gift, which goes to the heart of defining something as “religio” or binding. You give something and receive something greater. It binds communities and societies. You give in a material sense (often) and receive the spiritual. To me a ritual is a passing through, a going to the other side, thinking again and reorientating. So this is what I do. I let the art of religion waft over me, and then I let it be part of my reorientation.

As for Christianity specifically, it is about the ethics of reversals and an immediacy of outlook and action. It is about treating them as we, while they remain them. It is about universal inclusion and plural commitments. It is about routes to peace.

From Western Buddhism I take salvation through clarity and decentering, and not seeking any spiritual reward. I have no interest in life after death but have an interest in how people can feel better themselves when relating to me.

I am increasingly interested in the Islamic concept of jihad as a personal commitment, a kind of constant reckoning up of spiritual attention.

I take both the clarity and complexity of humanism and its research base. There has to be proper historical method - a not so secret fan of Arthur Marwick who trashes the Sociology I teach. Yet when all that is done there is also the story to take you, as it is. This brings me back to just going along with the words.

For me religion is symbolic, as language is. I therefore prefer richer forms of worship. This would be such as a higher than usual Anglican eucharist or evensong, it also includes being surrounded by art and using music, and I would include Buddhist art. I see Islamic calligraphy like this too, but reject their rejection of art!

In 2003 I stopped attending a Unitarian church where I had been increasingly dissatisfied, and have been working on my theology; the Unitarian church was too narrow and small in its ethos (this is not about numbers, I care little about how few attend). This perceived narrowness may have to change with its new minister, and the recently heard news that a Muslim woman read from the Qur’an at the pulpit on July 10th was fantastic and courageous, and I know the minister is seeking to advance the intellectual level with critical meetings on scriptures and alternative Sunday worship. But I am in the direction I am now. I did pursue ministry in two settings, but it is probably too late now.


All truth is God's truth

Since Saint Nigel of Durham is the patron saint of this website, I thought this quotation from ‘What St Paul Really Said’ (Eerdmans/Grand Rapids/Forward Movement Publications p.81) was apposite:

He (Paul) took the high ground: all truth was, for him, God’s truth, and when he took an idea from pagan culture, he made sure it was well and truly baptised before it could join the family. He claimed the high ground of the creational monotheist, not the split-level world of the worried dualist. Confrontation does not simply mean head-to-head total disagreement.’

This has more to do with my response to john’s tour de force than the point mars-hill was making, but I found the connection fascinating.

You means Saint Nicholas of

You mean Saint Nicholas of Durham, I think. Sorry to be pedantic.

Saint Nicholas

Sorry - there are two Wrights: one is Nigel (a popular Christian author), the other N.T. The first has not yet been canonised. Very confusing.

I'd have to agree with the

I’d have to agree with the original proposition that all truth is God’s truth. And i also hold very much to the concept of truth being insoluble reality, unmarred by bias or preference, laid out in it’s entirety. Basically God

As i stand in my current understanding of postmodernism as a philosophy, and how it effects theology as an almost subconscious cultural current. It still seems to be as about as predicable as the weather patterns where I live ( which aren’t in any stretch of the imagination stable ) .It’s still forming, individuating. As it is with this tread which has two very polarised points of view.

From Pluralist we have “As I understand it, postmodernism dissolves the objective-subjective polarity. When everything is subjective, nothing is subjective”. To me this feels a lot like just an extension of the Subjective, not a working amalgamation of the two.

I personally find a tremendous freedom and sense of adventure in the statement “All truth is God truth”. But the more subjective statement that, “Everything is truth/God” to me seems to not work well in theory or practice, when we live in a world/Universe where we can measure absolutes in quantities and consequences.

To me the growing middle ground is that the Truth/God is Objective but the way to see,hear,understand it/Him is Subjective. There are 1000 ways to skin a cat ( so i hear, the Internet is an amazing tool ) but in the end the cat is always skinned.

I just feel that Postmodernism is the turning of the tide in secular/none secular unwritten laws.

We can look at the USA as an example. The forming of the constitution didn’t in itself change the unwritten laws ( sub conscious ) concerning slavery and racism. At the same time families are full of unspoken laws etc “don’t talk about real feelings”, “education is paramount”, or, “no expectations of academic success”. Unspoken as they are they, they hold most in their culture as captive conscripts, enforcing them.

To me Modernism’s undercurrent was Objective ( Truth/God ), Objective ( experience / journey ). Where there is only ONE truth and only ONE way/methodology to view/learn it from.

If you asked the average Joe on the street if they where an open minded person, and they would answer “yes”, If you started talking about issues built around one their “Absolute truths” they wouldn’t be able the remain in the conversation, even the thought of any subjectivity coming into contact with an objective absolute, had the feel of an impending nuclear explosion.

Postmodernism ( I believe ) is the moving of the mainstream into
Objective ( Truth/God ), Subjective ( experience / journey / methodology ).

From the Modernist, Objective ( Truth / God ), Objective ( experience / journey / methodology )


Postmodernity and revelation

This has been a good thread to watch and read. It seems to me that postmodernity has helped us because it acknowledges the inescapably perspectival nature of truth. There is such a thing as Truth, and if we believe in God, then surely the proposition that “all truth is God’s truth” is self-evident to the point of tautology. Since the Enlightenment, the big question has been, “How can we know the truth of God?” or “How do we know what we know?” We cannot know God by observation or experiment (the scientific paradigm). We cannot know God by inference or deduction (if by “know” we mean to have certain knowledge of). In all of these things, Kant is technically right!

The big question, though, is whether or not revelation happens and we human beings are capable of receiving it. What postmodern epistemology does (for me, at any rate) is to translate “perspectival truth” into “storied truth”. In other words, the truth of God (and by truth I mean particularly the divine mystery) is truly revealed but in an inescapably storied form. This is not propositional revelation but incarnational revelation. God is revealed most clearly in Jesus, but revealed within the dynamics of the story. Jesus doesn’t give us access to what God looks like. Neither does he give us a series of propositions about God, as though he were a walking encyclopaedia on matters divine. Rather, Jesus reveals the character and will of God in the interactions of the gospel stories.

Thus our knowledge of God is true knowledge, and it is knowledge of that which, if not revealed, would remain hidden (cf Barth, who insists that God remains hidden in the very act of disclosure). The point, therefore, is that we do have knowledge of Absolute Truth (ie God) but we never have absolute knowledge of it. Our knowledge remains partial, provisional and storied. It requires faith - a correlating of our stories to the story of God in Jesus - because it is in the adventure of faith that we come to know God better. “Credo ut intelligam” - I believe in order to understand.

God / Truth Quality / Quantity

I agree with a good chunk of your reflection.

I find myself looking at Truth/God with the reality that the very nature of both is infinite ( not all inclusive; for all those relativist out there, i don’t believe they mean the same thing ).
As a result I have trouble seeing how we can ever know God/Truth better ( Quality ). But i can see that we will be able the know God/Truth more ( Quantity ). I enjoy learning and testing epistemology, but i see it more as creating a more efficient tool to uncovering Truth/God with the finite time we have. I don’t necessary believe it ever improve the worth or quality of either, in an infinite perspective.

I guess I look at history past and present ( and personal ) and feel that on the whole, any position that starts to believe that it’s Truth is of a better quality than that of another persons/people group/church very quickly catapults themselves into pride and the very nature off all truth ( Love, Patience, Humility ) is lost from the revelation. (D.Rutland)

I can think of countless times when in history man has used the excuse of revelation as authority for conquest and subjugation, as well as when I have used or had used against me knowledge/Truth for person gratification ( in love, of course ).

To say that we have a better understanding ( Quality ) of truth, can flow into the question are there some parts/elements of Truth / God that are less valuable than others? Or, are there parts of God / Truth which are more perfect or holy?

I feel its more like sin, where although from God’s / Eternity’s perspective all sin has the same punishment in an eternal , the immediate consequences to the world and the offender are often very apparent to us with a more mortal perspective.

I currently am more inclined to believe that in God’s / Eternity’s context all truth is equally valuable, freeing and life imparting.

But from an mortal perspective, some truth has the temporal appearance of having more inherent value. And as such some may feel inclined to feel superior to those ( presently ) without a particular portion of Truth.

Paul kept warning us that,” salvation is by grace ( an undeserved gifted revelation of the Truth / Jesus / God ) through faith, not through works ( self wrought revelation ) least no man should get a fat head ( paraphrase )”.
I believe that all Truth pertaining to the Nature and Person of God come through grace or gifted revelation from him.

I really hope that with the opportunity this time in history presents for the exploration of this new ( to us ) portion of God’s infinite Nature/Creation/Truth, that we don’t fall into the trap of pride, restricting us of the full richness of what we can learn here.


Do we understand the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

Without the Fall, would it be possible to learn all of God’s truths?”

The disobedience was an act of free will. God saw into the hearts of Adam and Eve, the truth of them, that they resisted the truth of wisdom and wanted to act selfishly without regard for God’s own meaning.

Remember, they ate from the tree of knowledge, not wisdom. So what is inherently wrong with knowledge? Knowledge means that you decide what is right and wrong. Wisdom is the acceptance of the truth that God provides about reality. Adam chose to decide for himself. So God granted him his wish, and let him live with knowledge instead of wisdom. He saw the truth of Adam and Eve’s hearts, that they wanted to be separate from God, to discover the truth through knowledge. Now here we sit, and in every situation we must decide of our own free will what the correct meaning of everything is.

What is the big difference between knowledge and wisdom? Knowledge is of the mind. Wisdom is from the heart. Natural humans are heart-centered, with the mind, body, emotions and will surrounding and supporting its wisdom. Civilized humans put the mind on top. This is unnatural. The other faculties rebel against this unwise domination. History is the progress of the strengthening mind using knowledge to secure its unnatural position. We are born into mind culture, so we are born into the original sin. It is how we relate to the world.

You can see this in everything we do. We even talk about spiritual knowledge because it is useful to ‘figure things out.’ Knowledge is a malleable package of information that we can manipulate for our purposes. We decide what we will accept as truth, not someone else. We are dominant, not someone else. So we go on making the same mistakes over and over. We decide the meaning.

But knowledge is not the nature of wisdom. Wisdom is a word or a phrase that blossoms of its own accord into meaning without us having to figure it out, decide, use mental labour to discern. It is just there. It is the truth. You just go ‘wow’ when you get it. Then suddenly everything make sense.

This wasn’t so plainly defined in the Bible. What is Original Sin, many still ask? How can we be born automatically ‘in the wrong?’ Are we doomed because of it? Do we blame the body, the temptations and desires from the world? How do we defeat it and get Saved? We want to be in control to feel safe and secure. That is the mind speaking.

We don’t talk too much about the fact that there is wisdom in sin. Many sinners will get into heaven, where many devout will not. Why? Because it is our heart that God is looking at, not our minds. The sin is meant to teach our hearts. Did we learn the lesson?

We think we are separate from God. We don’t realize that our lives are set up by God. The situation for the sin is created by God. The events are meant to teach us a lesson in the milieu that Adam and Eve chose. Our lives are specifically designed to teach our individual hearts what they need to learn. Everyone’s is unique.

The consciousness of the heart, the soul, separate from the mind is not clearly defined. We don’t know what God is looking at. If we did, we could learn the lessons a lot more easily. One of the ways to discover our soul is to realize what the mind’s domination of us is, and what it is doing to us. That’s a big challenge. We do not appreciate how thoroughly entangled we are in the mind’s domination. It takes a lot to unravel it. When we let it go, the reality of Jesus becomes much more obvious. Then we get a little bit closer to returning to the Orginal Wisdom.

Wisdom is the meaning of truth. Knowledge is a vehicle for decision. You use different parts of your consciousness for both. To seek the knowledge of God’s truth is getting it backwards. Knowledge is why we are here. That’s what go us into this mess.

The objective Jesus set out for us is how do we convert our knowledge culture into a wisdom one. The kicker is that we don’t even realize simply that knowledge is the problem. We think it is the solution. So we go on making decisions instead of letting God’s wisdom tell us the simple truth. Until we realize how the dominant mind controls us in ways we never imagined, heaven-on-earth is a distant dream.

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