My recent Facebook postings have created quite a stir (that’s professional talk for ‘ticked people off royally’). Why, you ask? Easy. I’ve stopped believing the right things. Adam and Eve may not have ever existed. The Biblical Flood was local, not global. The story of the Hebrew Bible is more important than its historical reliability (or lack thereof). The responsible drinking of alcohol is not only permitted, but encouraged by the Bible. And one of my most recent posts really ruffled some feathers, where I criticized a blog post that suggested that any lady who sees the movie Magic Mike should just stop calling herself a Christian. That was a pretty interesting discussion, and I stand behind what I said…such ideas are legalist crap.
The question that lots of folks are wondering is how in the world did I get to these new positions? Truthfully, I’ve thought about them for some time. Others are more recent developments. But overall it involves two things: my approach to truth and my approach to the Bible. Perhaps the easiest answer is that my view of things has evolved from a modernist view which is one of idealism, to a postmodernist view which is one that values subjectivity. Recently my postmodern leanings have become clearer (an oxymoron, right?), and the more I write, the more you can hear the faint sound of modernist heads exploding all over the place.
I know what some of you are thinking; if I’m a postmodernist, then I just can’t believe in God or absolute truth. I’m sure Francis Schaeffer and Ravi Zacharias quotes are rattling in some of your heads. Well let me tell you a few things. I still believe that God determines what Schaeffer called the “true Truth,” but my suspicions are that none of us can completely arrive at this Truth without messing it up somehow. (If the doctrine of depravity has taught me anything, it’s that humans are really good at messing things up!) It’s not because the truth can’t be seen. The truth shines brightly, but we are all pretty dim and easily distractible even with the Holy Spirit’s influence.
As a Christian, I’ve come to understand that God is former and keeper of Truth because he is the maker of reality. But what is the “right” or “correct” perception of that reality? How will I know when it is the right one? I’ve come to understand that my personal perception of reality will always be biased, and no amount of study reveal truth perfectly.
When I was more of a modernist, I took a different approach. I saw many things in life–especially theology–as a multiple choice test. I strained hard to answer all of the questions correctly. Sometimes it was easy:
Jesus of Nazareth was:
(A) a historical figure who was a good man and nothing more
(B) a fictional person invented by religious zealots
(C) the only begotten Son of God
(D) both B and C
Sometimes, I had a harder time with it:
What is the correct response to “you are to be holy, for I am holy”?
(A) Avoid all secular movies and books
(B) Stop seeing all R-rated movies
(C) Pray for forgiveness every time I think a dirty thought
(D) All of the above
(E) None of the above
I was confident that most of my answers were right. The others, I just circled C and hoped for the best. “We’ll know the answer one day” I said to myself. That’s because I thought that God had a kind of divine answer key that he could show us so we’d see the indisputable answers to all our questions. There is a divine answer key in the sky, and one day God will grade your test. This wasn’t a salvation issue to me, I just wanted to be right! Don’t we all?
What I’ve come to find out is that many of life’s questions are not multiple choice or even true/false, they are more like essay questions that take into account my own perspectives. I can hit the target using my own words, with my own experiences, my own point of view. I still need to answer the questions correctly, but the idea that I must get the answer either 100% right or I will get it 100% wrong doesn’t seem to be the right approach to me anymore.
But this black-and-white approach to all things is what I’m hearing from lots of folks. It’s something I would like them to grow beyond. My answers are different from theirs, so I am “wrong,”–my answers on life’s quizzes are incorrect based on their estimations. And they get to their conclusions based on sheer logic? I doubt it. Humans are not robots that process raw information without bias. I would even argue that God is biased. As the most free being in the universe, this is really not a difficult idea to grasp. But it would take time to develop, so we’ll leave that post for another day.
Simply put, I still believe in true Truth, but our ‘getting there’ is an imperfect process. We should be humble about our conclusions and consider carefully the conclusions of others.