Thursday, August 16, 2007


We’ve been doing a very quick exploration of various sources of truth. Soon I’d like to dig into the authority of the Catholic Church…the only true Church (notice I did not say Roman Catholic…Catholic simply means “universal” and it refers to the Church Christ died for…I believe the inheritors of the Reformation should reclaim that beautiful terminology…) and the authority of Sacred Scripture. All Christians should recognize the authority of both…the rub is found in our understanding of the nature of each.

But before we proceed I’d like to stop and clarify the context of this series. It all started when I began to examine the claims of the Eastern Orthodox in more detail. I had bit off more than I can chew because their theological world is in many ways very foreign to me…their lingo is different than mine/ours in many ways. For example…both Reformers and Eastern Orthodox believe that Jesus died “for” the sins of the world…but you wouldn’t even begin to grasp how vastly apart we are in understanding what exactly the word “for” means until you dig a bit into their theology. Their view of God’s intentional and active anger, wrath and hatred is not like that of Reformed Christianity or Roman Catholicism at all. So…as I started to dive in I quickly realized that in order to be fair I need to reach a far better depth in my understanding…plus I didn’t want to disqualify them just because I was not in complete harmony with Eastern Orthodoxy…who knows…maybe I’ve been wrong my whole life…so I wanted and still want to give them a fair shake.

So I backed up and have wanted to start from the starting line, establishing that God desires to make reality known…that He is a knowable God, byHis grace, and that there are many sources to gain knowledge of Him. So many evangelicals believe in the Bible alone…foolishly and needlessly. The Bible itself teaches that nature “declares” the glory of God…therefore the Bible is not all that we need to know Him. We need our experiences, spirit, emotions, reason, science, the authority of the Church and Holy Scripture in order to better understand God.

The point that I would like to drive home today…and will drive home again I’m sure…is that truth, regardless of its source, is consistent. No two truths can contradict one another when applied in the same context. For example…understanding that emotions and feelings are very real sources of truth does not mean that 2+2=5 if one truly feels it and sincerely believes it. Why? Well…because that statement contradicts the revealed truths of both reason and science. Another example would be to disqualify the existence of demons or angels because science is unable to examine a super natural being. We must understand that science is not only not infallible…it’s not even the only source of truth! Both the Church (historically) and the Holy Scriptures declare the existence of both demons and angels…there can not be a reality in which demons and angels are real and fantasy at the same time and in the same relationship.

It is when we find a real harmony of these sources that we can be sure that we are arriving at truth…to ignore any of them will always lead to imbalance and ignorance of God. This is no easy thing…and admittedly leaves a tremendous amount of issues with less than pure certainty. In fact when seeking to maintain this balance we find ourselves with a list of pure certainties shrink rapidly…and that’s ok…I do not find it reasonable at all to expect total and absolute certainty about very many things…I’m not certain that the stock market will not totally crash tomorrow…but I still put money into savings and other investments. I’m not sure that this Diet Mountain Dew is not poisoned…but I’m drinking it. I’m not sure that my engine will not explode into a sky high pillar of fire the next time I turn it over…but I’m going to anyway.

So anyway…no two true truths will ever contradict…which approaching this mountain with that in mind will create a great deal of tension...and heartburn…and headaches…this will be important as we proceed…with caution…


I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. I thought to myself, “Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 niv

5 comments:

Zac said...

Gary,

Another great post. Just by way of preliminary response, I think I have a couple articles for you on the Orthodox understanding of the Atonement. Ideally, you should read St. Athanasius' On the Incarnation, which has an excellent introduction by C.S. Lewis, and which you can find here: http://www.orthodoxonline.com/incarnation.pdf

But for a shorter piece which discusses the broad patristic approach of Orthodoxy to this Awesome Mystery, I offer you these:

1)What Christ Accomplished on the Cross by Hieromonk Damascene ("hieromonk" means that he is a priest and a monastic). Here it is: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/christcross.aspx

2)Salvation by Christ: A Response to the Credenda/Agenda by Carmen Frangapane
Here: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/frag_salv.aspx

I think these give the "balanced approach" which you will find both alike and different from Western juridical moels.

irreverend fox said...

thanks zac!

Zac said...
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irreverend fox said...
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Zac said...
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