Thursday, November 15, 2007

There’s Something Fishy About Truth Seeking

I’m trying to work out a funny irony – maybe you all can help.

A number of Christians I have known seem to think that asking questions about the faith is okay: if God is Truth, and the questions stem from a genuine desire to know the Truth, then God will lead the questioner to Himself. Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you, etc.

Yet if one’s questions lead them away from the faith, the story seems to change. In that case, the same Christians seem to think that the questioner hasn’t found the Truth; they’ve been blinded by Satan or their own sin.

So…it seems that it’s only really okay to ask questions if they lead the questioner back to the original answers and back into the fold.

That doesn't make any sense to me. But what's weirder is that it made total sense to me when I was a devout believer.

13 comments:

jennypo said...

The path to Truth, as with anything else worth knowing, is rarely a straight line. If we genuinely seek truth, but the truth that we have known has been mingled with untruth, then the path may be, in the beginning, in the opposite direction to Truth.

If God is Truth, then all genuine seekers for Truth will be found by God. But that doesn't mean they won't become atheists or Mormons or secular humanists first. There are elements of truth in every philosophy, and if those are the elements I am missing, God may lead me through any variety of philosophies before I am brought to Him with a broader understanding.

Otherwise, even knowing that God is Truth, I may never know who that God is and what the nature of that Truth is. It doesn't follow that if God is truth, then the church accurately communicates him. Being led away from the idea of God may actually be the shortest path to understanding who God is.

Jonathan Blake said...

Jennypo, the examples you give of those who wander away from truth are interesting. When I was Mormon, I my list included atheists, mainstream Christians, etc. So you and Mormons have something in common: you each accuse the other of lacking the full truth. Now my list includes all theists. Funny isn't it. :)

jennypo said...

jonathan blake,
Please note that the examples I gave were not of those who wander AWAY from the truth, but possible philosophies on the way TO the truth. I picked those three because they've come up before, but there is an enormous number of possible philosophies reviled by mainstream Christianity that may appear to be steps away from God. My point was actually that any one of them may be, for a seeker of truth, a step toward the truth, even if they are not fully the Truth.

Regardless of my own personal views, the point wasn't to tell anyone what is or is not the Truth. However, IF God = Truth, as the Bible says, then it does not necessarily follow that a departure from my ideas about God is a departure from Truth itself.

Merely an observation, no disrespect to either atheists or Mormons. :^)

Dave said...

I think it has to do with the heart, the spirit of the searching. Questions can be asked and answers searched for with a spirit of humility, acknowledgment that there is more one does not know than what they do know, and that God intentionally leaves some ambiguity to test faith. Or one can ask questions and stop searching thinking they have all the answers at a certain point, not really seeking for answers only questions, and ultimately not willing to commit on faith.

single/certain said...

i think one reason it's not ok to ask questions and then have the answers lead you away from church (in the eyes of the christians you know) is because of judgement. some of us who call ourselves christians are the absolute worst when it comes to that. in defense of christians, though, truth is truth. if they really believe that something is true, well, then, they'd probably also better believe that the opposite is untrue.

however, all that to say you probably don't want to hear things like 'you're blinded by satan/your own sin!' while you are questing for truth and understanding.

Slapdash said...

Dave said: "I think it has to do with the heart, the spirit of the searching. Questions can be asked and answers searched for with a spirit of humility, acknowledgment that there is more one does not know than what they do know, and that God intentionally leaves some ambiguity to test faith. Or one can ask questions and stop searching thinking they have all the answers at a certain point, not really seeking for answers only questions, and ultimately not willing to commit on faith."

Dave, to me this sounds completely circular. Why must one assume that God intentionally leaves things ambiguous? To me that premise itself is something that it should be okay to question. My "spirit of searching" has been to learn truth, wherever and whatever it was. To that end, every single thing about my faith was eligible for question, including why God leaves so much stuff ambiguous. If the only appropriate "spirit" of questioning requires faith as the starting point, then that is a closed system of inquiry - and arguably not related to seeking Truth: its goal is to reinforce the internal teachings of the system. If the system is True, it should stand up to scrutiny even under the most withering attack from without (ie without first requiring faith in God to understand it); I have found the faith of my childhood to crumble under such scrutiny.

Slapdash said...

I appreciate your comments, jennypo. I have definitely moved toward the view that there is truth in many philosophies and religions, not only one. Which is a really radical shift for me given what I believed just 5 or 6 years ago.

Jared Funderburk, SIM CP said...

I have asked these questions of myself over the last few years and my conclusion is this, I have had a point of view change. For a long time, I too completely believed everything that was taught in the church and couldn't understand why those outside of the church were not moved to believe as I was. Once I was out of church long enough, the point of view shifted. I could then see very easily why people weren't breaking down the doors of the church to get in on this "good news", and I was then convinced that truth is very personal. If you use the example of God=Truth, you set yourself up to enter a circle and not a path. The path may lead to God, but the circle has to, big difference. I believe to honestly seek the "truth", you must remove all preconceived notions (which I admit is very difficult) and then you will arrive at the "truth" which again is very personal.

Slapdash said...

"If you use the example of God=Truth, you set yourself up to enter a circle and not a path. The path may lead to God, but the circle has to, big difference."

Very well said, Jared. Much more eloquent than my fumbling attempts. :)

jennypo said...

I think perhaps the point you are making, jared funderburk, is that you can't begin a search for truth by asserting that God = truth. I have to agree. Otherwise, why would you need to search?

Jared Funderburk, SIM CP said...

Jennypo, That is correct.

HeIsSailing said...

Hi JennyPo, long time, no see.

Slapdash, your experience is similar to mine. When I first expressed my doubts to my church pastor, he told me that doubting and questioning were ok. In fact they were good because it would ultimately strengthen my faith after investigation, study and prayer. Later, when I told him investigation, study and prayer were leading me *away* not toward God, he and I sat down for some personal counceling. It started getting ugly when he began blaming my doubt on personal issues (aka secret sin) that needed confessing. I tried to tell him that, no, it was just putting the claims of Christianity up against a standard I would set with any other claim and seeing if it would stand, but he just could not conceive of it.

Doubt and questioning are ok, but only if it leads back to faith. It is not a matter of weighing evidence, it is a matter of fitting the evidence to strengthen your faith - a method which would never fly in any other endevour. Very sad indeed.

jennypo said...

Hi HeIsSailing,

Nice to see you around again! :^)