Monday, July 21, 2008

Crashing into truth

Yesterday at God's Politics, Phyllis Tickle delivered "A Crash Course in Jesus Studies." Here's an excerpt:
[I]t should be no surprise that the Jesus who has emerged from all of this professional scholarship and lay furor is as multiform and various as the scholars and concerned laity who have engaged the quest. The end result, in fact, of our dozen or so decades of scratching through history is such a multiplicity of Jesuses that one has to say, "Whoa! Let's just hold up here a minute and think this thing through a bit more clearly."
Story, perhaps, is better than intellectual argument in this kind of process.
And she tells a story, not necessarily one that's new, but a story nevertheless about perspectives which begins like this:
Let us suppose then. Let us suppose that there is a huge, deadly wreck on busy Main Street, USA, in the midst of midday traffic. There are, technically speaking, several hundred witnesses, albeit from very different perspectives.

The story is good, and yet I believe it is misleading. The story is one of many postmodern styled stories which seems to exalt individual understanding and experience above all other things. For sure, something happened, but exactly what happened will forever be subject to interpretation. I think Tickle's story, and her ultimate point, leaves no room for the firm assertion of multiple passages of Scripture that God's Spirit is the means by which the truth about Jesus is finally arrived at.
Don't get me wrong, I like Tickle's story, and I especially like her conclusion:
[E]very single one of us, if we live another decade or so, is going to have to decide what he or she thinks not only about the crash, 2,000 years ago, of Messiah into space/time but also about how we understand and engage the records of that event that have come to us over the centuries. Pray God we do it well.

I for one believe, and am extremely grateful, that God didn't leave it entirely up to us to figure it out. The truth is out there, and God's Spirit is our chauffeur on the road to that truth.

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