Sunday, May 27, 2007

Thoughts on Truth

Ways people have historically understood truth:
1. Authority
This was the primary way that people understood Truth in the medieval period. In this period, the authorities were trusted to understand the Truth; the common man was not. Truth is linked closely with a power structure under an authority.

This was the primary understanding of the Catholic Church. The Catholics say that it is the Pope who had the right to say whether or not something is true. The problem here is when the Papal community was obviously corrupt. Once the popes authority becomes compromised, Truth can become very quickly distorted. Which is what happened toward the end of the medieval period.

The Reformers, particularly Hus and Luther stood up and said the pope is wrong, and that simple reason and logic partnered with study of the Bible could explain what was true.

2. Logic/Reason
Logic and reason are the staple of understanding how truth is talked about in the modern era; truth is logical and rational. Truth has a strong relationship with Math and Science in this way of thinking.

This way of understanding truth is in an abstract form of truth. It is based in logical and reason, and neither of those are tangible. Truth becomes in this way of thinking static, and unchanging. It also becomes disconnected.

Post-modern thinkers reject truth in this light. There is a grass roots movement of “po-mo’s” who disagree that there is an objective truth out there. Truth as an abstract immutable force in post-modern thinking just does not exist. Truth must be seen as something that is to be experienced.

3. Experience
The primary way of introducing ones self to truth in the post-modern mindset is through Experience. One does not know truth by being told what to believe about Truth, not by following a logical ascent to Truth, but by experiencing Truth. Truth cannot be separated from experiencing it.

This is the conversation that many Christians are having today. They are talking to Christians who are based in a logical and rational ways of understanding Christianity. The problem is that these Christians are looking for abstract conversations about the nature of truth, which the post-modern mindset does not want to have. To the post-modern thinking Truth, cannot exist unless there is a subject experience.

I do not believe that post-modern thinkers deny that there is Truth; I think that they do not understand Truth as an abstract reality. It has to be tied to flesh and blood.

The way that I think many people approach these three descriptions is to ask the question, “Is one way of understanding Truth more right than either of the other two?” To which I wonder is that the right question?

I believe that to understand truth all three ways methods must be applied. Each of the three methods is flawed and can lead to abuses. Each of the three methods checks and corrects the other two. When one becomes primary (i.e. logic and reason in the modern mindset) abuses become evident, and Truth itself becomes distorted.

What do you think?

5 comments:

MattJP said...

And I choose . . . #2. Well, kind of - I like #1 also. Do you think the elevation of experience among postmoderns is any different from what the theological liberals did 100 years ago? I see no difference and that's why I think some postmoderns are just liberals. I like your last paragraph though. I think I could embrace that.

dan said...

I think it's different because the liberals of the 19th century rejected the message of Jesus because they couldn't find the logical belief to believe that God could become man. Liberal theology is still a system of belief based in logic.

Eric and Amanda Roemer said...

I agree that we need to look at all three ways you have listed here. It is so easy as a post-modern to say that 1 and 2 are so wrong since everything that has brought us to where we are was a response to the absurdity that came before us. But hopefully we are wise enough to learn from the flaws of that history and not swing too far in the opposite direction but rather learn from both the mistakes and failures of other ways of thinking. So I guess I would want to add a number 4... as other's experiences or history as an interpretation of live to find truth. Maybe we could add a number 5 which could be our Gut feeling. Sometime you don't know why something is true... you just know it is.

conibell said...

I need your newsletter article

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