Thursday, March 1, 2012
If I'm being honest, which my Mom used to remind me is a good thing to be, I've got to admit that much of what I believe I don't believe because I've thought through it critically, but because I admire the people or want to be like the people who hold such beliefs (thank you Tim Keller and mysterious blogger). But as this is not very scientific (which is everything in our culture isn't it?) it can put me in a place of precariousness about my own personal epistemology.
If I think one way, people are comfortable about my world and life view and pat me on the back, but if I think another way, or begin asking questions in a certain direction, then I'm liable to have people praying for me, questioning my sanity or even my salvation. I know for a fact (and we all do don't we) that some questions could land me in a heap of trouble, especially if you're a "professional Christian."
This afternoon, as I think about this stuff, or think about thinking about this stuff, knowing that there's a lot I don't know, I get a little tense. Say if there's a lot I don't know, how dare I hold on to things dogmatically? To not be dogmatic in certain areas could bring with it social, institutional, and (though I know I am loved unconditionally) even familial difficulties. Am I truly allowed to doubt everything?
I believe that as Christians, doubt is a lost art. Many have written on this. Heck many who have far more intelligent things to say about it have written books and stuff... and thingies.
I read NT Wright today on epistemology (which should get me a few back pats, unless I'm reading about his views on justification). In his article, "Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection?" he concludes that Christians are given, in the resurrected Christ himself a new way of knowing. It's kind of weird and I'm not sure I understand it (it is NT Wright after all), but in the resurrection of Jesus a new creation has come and we not only know through the categories of history and science, but we can know through a new category - love.
“Love is the deepest mode of knowing, because it is love that, while completely engaging with reality other than itself, affirms and celebrates that other-than-self reality. This is the mode of knowing which is necessary if we are to live in the new public world, the world launched at Easter, the world in which Jesus is Lord and Caesar isn’t.”
Maybe this is why Wright rightly (ha) uses doubting Thomas as the recipient of a new kind of knowing, that which begins with "My Lord and my God!" I believe it is the crowning statement from any human (other than Jesus) in the bible up to that point, perhaps of the entire bible, for in it we find faith, hope and love (see Wright). To know in scripture is to be deeply related to someone.
Imagine the impact we would have if we Christians moved away from dogmatism and rigid elitist group mentality, bordered and guarded by our fear and insecurity, and frankly a lack of belief in God and the gospel, and began engaging the culture with this new epistemology that was rooted not in the intellect (though it requires it) but in the very person of Jesus Christ and in his love.
If our Christian institutions encouraged this kind of knowing (and I'm not saying they always don't), the world would not only see our love evidenced in our faith, hope and confidence in Christ, but the world would also see our humility, candor and freedom to doubt in Christ. This could be a really good thing.
One thing I know, Jesus.
"I've got a question Jesus."