Tag Archives: truth

We Among Others: Who Are These People?!

I ended the last post in this series with the claim that even though Jesus is the (T/t)ruth, we all see Jesus through our own cultural context and world view. In this post, I want to explore how people see Jesus today.

But what about you? Who do you say I am?

Most Christians see Jesus as the Savior.  Now, seeing Jesus as the Savior means different things to different people.  Some mean that Jesus saves us from God’s wrath upon sinners.  Some mean that Jesus saves us from enslavement to Satan and evil forces.  Some mean that Jesus saves us from political oppression.  Some mean that Jesus saves us from ourselves and from anxiety of our own finiteness.

Most Christians see Jesus as the Son of God. Now, seeing Jesus as the Son of God means different things to different people.  Some mean that Jesus is the second member of the Holy Trinity, known as the “Son,” wherein his sonship refers to him as being the son of the Father, the first member of the Trinity. And then there’s the Holy Spirit to throw in another member.  Others see Jesus as the Son of God to mean that God chose Jesus the man for a special mission in the world.  God chose this man to herald in the Kingdom of God on earth, and teach people to love one another.

Now, I’m going to take a wild and crazy guess that most of the readers of this blog come from a perspective where Jesus as Savior means that he saves us from God’s wrath upon sinners, and that Jesus as the Son of God means that he is a member of the Trinity.  Fair assumption, no?

You think this kid reads my blog? Probably….

What demographic is this audience?  Well, considering that I’m writing on my front porch with the Minneapolis skyline in view, I can assume that my readers that know me are from the surrounding area.  Now, according to Wikipedia, being that the racial/ethnic composition of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area is 81.6% non-hispanic whites, I can assume a lot of them are non-hispanic whites.  And knowing Minnesota’s strong Nordic roots, I can assume a lot of them come from that ancestry, and even have roots in Nordic Christian traditions (i.e. Lutheranism), but they’re also American, so they may likely be Baptist, Reformed, Methodists (but certainly not Presbyterians or Pentecostals! Shocking!) And finally, considering that they are reading this from a computer, they own or at least have access to a computer.

So, just from playful hypothesizing, my readers are likely white Midwesterners who make a sustainable income.  Great!

But what about everyone else?  Where are they in this discussion? Contrary to popular belief, the world is not predominantly white Midwesterners with sustainable incomes. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! Even in Christianity (the predominant religion in the world), white, financially comfortable people are not in the majority of Christianity.

However, the fact of the matter is that Christianity has been a white-dominated religion ever since, oh, I don’t know, the bishop in Rome officially became white and not Middle Eastern. In fact, I’m living proof of that.  I’m a white, Midwestern man, financially satisfactory (errr), typing theology on his computer.  What, then, do I do with that? What do you do with that?

As I said in the last post, we are not alone. We are all together, in solidarity, looking up to the Truth through our own eyes, but with each other.  Look around. Who are the people surrounding you?  A lot of them don’t look like you.  They don’t come from the same place as you do, and they sure don’t make the same amount of money as you.

What do you think they think about Jesus?

Probably not the same as you.

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We Among Others: How to Deal

We are now returning to the series “The Joy of Theology” after a long but necessary detour with the series “A Feminine Masculinity.”  Last time I gave a parable on the individual and theology, and I argued that theology is not just a vertical pursuit (between God and self), but that it ought to be done in the context of others (horizontally). But there is a “problem,” namely, that there are others, and especially others who may not see things the way we do.  So, how to we “deal with” the fact that I am but one person in the midst of a multitude of people, each with their own history, personality, and view on reality? Or is it a problem?

OK, first, let’s treat this as a problem, and it is for many, and it often manifests itself in two extreme solutions.

The first solution answers it this way: Everyone is different, everyone views the world differently, and because of this, there is no way of knowing for certain what is true.  Thus, there is no certain truth, but only truth as people see it, and so truth is what is true for them.

The second solution goes like this: Even though everyone sees reality differently, but there is one truth and there is only one true way to view reality, and everyone must ascribe to this in order to be certain of what is true.

What is wrong with both of these solutions?  I can address it in one stone’s throw (that is, if both arguments were birds, thence I would kill them…with a single stone’s throw).

One fallacy comes from the argument of individualism.  The first solution makes the mistake of saying that individuals are left to create their own truth for themselves, while the second solution argues that there is one individual paradigm in which all individuals must ascribe.  The ultimate problem for both is that while acknowledging others around them, they are still focused on either their individual pursuit of truth or on a single pursuit of truth.

But wait, there are two more birds taking off from the marsh.  Luckily enough, I have another stone, and in one throw I can kill the two.  Another problem comes from the argument of certainty.  Both see the problem in light of a pursuit of certainty, but where one abandons the pursuit of truth in light of no certainty, the other tries to build an argument of certainty from nothing.

The fact is that we are not alone and there is not one way to view reality.  We need to acknowledge that our way of seeing the world is not the norm in which others see the world.  In fact, it is very likely that our view of the world is in the minority.  In fact in fact, when it comes to the Bible, our world view does not even closely match up with the world view of the Biblical audience.  Does that mean we need to abandon our world view for there’s?  By no means!  We simply need to acknowledge that our world view is different, but in light of the multiplicity of world views, we can learn something from others.

Also, we cannot be certain of what is true, but we can be confident that there is truth.  Truth exists, but it’s just seen differently by people. However, and this is a big however, we Christians believe that there is one (T/t)ruth, and that (T/truth) is Jesus.  What, then, did Jesus mean when he said that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6)?  Yes, this is true that no one can come to know God outside of Jesus, but we must recognize that our view of Jesus is not the view of Jesus.  It is a view of Jesus, and others view Jesus through their own lens of reality.

However, and this is a big however, I am not arguing that this means all paths lead to Jesus.  I am making light of the fact that while there is One Truth (and that Truth is Jesus), all of humanity sees Jesus through their cultural context and world view, and makes sense of him through that.  Praise be to God that we have a God that reveals Godself where we are at and wherever we are at and through whatever world view!

So, in the end, we are not alone.  We are all together, in solidarity, looking up to the Truth through our own eyes, but with each other.

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