Certainty in Theology

What can be had?


11 thoughts on “Certainty in Theology

  1. mackman April 17, 2012 / 9:49 pm

    Well, the Bible assumes that some level of knowledge is possible. The entire purpose of the gospel of Luke is that Theophilus “may have certainty concerning the things [he has] been taught.”

    The gospel of John, likewise, is written so that we may “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” To believe is to be certain of something, so we must be certain of that.

    Paul, in the same vein, says to believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and to confess with your mouth that God raised him from the dead.

    From that firm knowledge about who Jesus is and what he accomplished, we can arrive at other certain truths. It’s true that there is a lot of uncertainty: But there is also a lot that is certain, that can be known as truth.


  2. John April 17, 2012 / 10:16 pm

    REAL intelligence is taciy, or intrinsically wordless, living existence.

    True Philosophy is not a pattern of thinking. True Philosophy is a process, an art, a profound yoga which is necessarily associated with Reality itself, Truth itself, and Beauty itself.

    In our normal dreaful fear-saturated “sanity” the death of bodies is a philosophical or theological matter that causes untrust, distrust, and hell-deep fear; a matter that fills us with philosophical and “theological” propositions that are Godless, Ecstasyless, Blissless.

    As a matter of fact, the cosmic domain is just like Mother Kali. Exactly so. It is full of death, full of process, full of moment to moment changes, a beginningless and endless Light show.
    Ecstasy, and thus Right Life altogether, requires trust and the utter acceptance of death!


  3. whitefrozen April 17, 2012 / 10:17 pm

    This topic was born out of a question asked on Facebook: isn’t all theology speculative?

    To which I reply, well, yeah, in a sense it is. I was more thinking along the lines of what we think about God – doctrinal certainty, things like that. How certain can we be about someone so wholly other?


    • Brother James April 18, 2012 / 8:45 am

      Rather than speculative, might one say all theology (all our language about God) is “metaphorical”?


      • whitefrozen April 18, 2012 / 10:18 am

        I would definitely agree with that – does that then mean that all our theology is metaphorical?


  4. Brother James April 18, 2012 / 11:10 am

    I’m inclined to say yes, or at least we should behave as if that’s the case…


    • whitefrozen April 18, 2012 / 11:29 am

      If that’s the case (or at least we should behave like that’s the case) how dogmatic do you think we should we be about doctrinal issues?


  5. Brother James April 18, 2012 / 11:38 am

    I suppose, in part, that would depend on which doctine. But in general, I think we should approach dogma as St. Augustine suggested, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.”

    I think the principle problem with a lot of modern Christianity is not that we’re too concerned with dogma. It’s that we’re not concerned enough with charity.


    • whitefrozen April 18, 2012 / 12:30 pm

      I would definitely agree with your last sentence there.


      • mackman April 18, 2012 / 1:06 pm

        I would definitely agree as well: Many of us are not concerned enough with charity. The Church is having a significant problem in holding onto both solid doctrine and true charity.

        Some churches use doctrine to actively wound those outside the church (and I believe those will be judged more harshly than most), while others discard doctrine entirely in the false belief that that will enable them to be more charitable.

        (BTW: I hope you are not offended that I’m suddenly commenting on your posts. I’ve missed this type of discussion since college.)


  6. whitefrozen April 18, 2012 / 1:19 pm

    I’m hardly offended – the whole purpose of this blog is to be a dialogue/discourse on these kinds of thing. The more conversation the better!

    I always liked C.S. Lewis’s take on doctrine/theology:


    ‘ I remem­ber once when I had been giv­ing a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten offi­cer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a reli­gious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him out alone in the desert at night: the tremen­dous mys­tery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat lit­tle dog­mas and for­mu­las about Him. To any­one who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedan­tic and unreal!’

    Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had prob­a­bly had a real expe­ri­ence of God in the desert. And when he turned from that expe­ri­ence to the Chris­t­ian creeds, I think he really was turn­ing from some­thing real to some­thing less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turn­ing from some­thing real to some­thing less real: turn­ing from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admit­tedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remem­ber about it. In the first place, it is based on what hun­dreds and thou­sands of peo­ple have found out by sail­ing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of expe­ri­ence just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a sin­gle glimpse, the map fits all those dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences together. In the sec­ond place, if you want to go any­where, the map is absolutely nec­es­sary. As long as you are con­tent with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than look­ing at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

    Now, The­ol­ogy is like the map. Merely learn­ing and think­ing about the Chris­t­ian doc­trines, if you stop there, is less real and less excit­ing than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doc­trines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the expe­ri­ence of hun­dreds of peo­ple who really were in touch with God-experiences com­pared with which any thrills or pious feel­ings you and I are likely to get on our own are very ele­men­tary and very con­fused. And sec­ondly, if you want to get any fur­ther, you must use the map.’


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