My head is muddled. I feel bombarded by big, tough questions. My immediate response to a question is to find the answer. I was raised that way and it’s in my blood. But there have been an unsettling number of questions in the last month or so which leave me uncertain that I’ll ever find a satisfactory answer, and uncertain of where to turn to find one. Every source of information seems compromised or biased in one way or another. And so, so finite. The other night I was despairing of ever finding answers and finding myself reluctant to look for them, out of fear that my Scriptural hermeneutic and doctrine would be unravelled by what I found.
I do believe there is truth, and that to some extent we may know it, and know it truly. But one night about a month ago a fellow truth-lover said some wise words about the need for charity toward all people when we find ourselves in places of doctrinal disagreement or uncertainty. His exhortation got me thinking: we are called to love the truth more than we are called to know the truth. We must hold what we believe in humility, lest we find we’ve believed falsehood. Then as lovers of truth the only thing we can do is run the other way and embrace the truth we’d missed before. Whether or not believing something false is a sin, there is another sin of which I am certain: clinging to falsehood because we lack the humility or faith to admit our error. We should love truth more than we love ourselves; we should be absolutely loyal to it. Sometimes such loyalty might look like changing your mind about something. Sometimes it might look like standing, with Ignatius of old, “like a beaten anvil.”
It seems we have an excuse for not knowing the truth sometimes: His mind was not sharp enough to sufficiently weigh the arguments; she’d never even heard it; he simply doesn’t have time to look for answers today. This is proving to be my experience this spring, much to my frustration. Each day whizzes past me with questions unanswered and no time or energy to expend on them until, choking back tears, I admit to my husband that the problem of theistic evolution has been eating away at my soul since the lecture I heard defending it against naturalism a week ago and the news that Bruce Waltke has gone over to “the dark side.” But I can’t reckon either of these happenings with my hermeneutic, and that story in Genesis 1. The ins and outs confuse me until I despair of getting to the bottom of it all. I wish this was the only such question keeping me awake at night lately.
What can you say to all this? Mike’s comfort to me brought my reflections on the difference between knowing and loving truth back to mind, and then I thought of that young pastor, Robert Murray McCheyne, who insisted that his congregation’s greatest need was his own personal holiness. Mike said that the most important thing is to love God, to obey Him in the place where He’s called me, to serve Him. So I look in Scripture and I find imperatives to be kind and compassionate, to be humble, to cultivate the fruit of the spirit, to be anxious for nothing, to be diligent in my work, and to look forward with hope to the blessed appearing of our glorious Lord. These I can understand, even if I can’t settle all the Scriptural implications for the debate over pacifism v. just war.
So that is what I will do for now. I will keep believing in Scripture’s absolute reliability as God’s breathed-out word without being afraid to interact with questions. After all, I believe, on philosophical grounds, that Biblical Christianity will always be the winner, proving water-tight every time. And with that in place, I will spend my time and energy loving God where He puts me. No matter how much I’d like Him to put me in a perpetual armchair with a stack of completely truthful books until I’ve found all my answers, today He’s given me things to be done. He’s put me in a classroom listening to lectures and at a desk writing a paper and at a piano accompanying vocalists and in a coffee shop graciously and humbly serving a bride-to-be and her nervous mother. Today’s obedience for me is to faithfully execute my responsibilities, to consider others better than myself, to serve and forgive and submit and speak graciously. If yesterday is any indication, that will be enough to exhaust my physical and spiritual energy for today. So the questions will have to wait.
I’m guessing a lot of the questions (and the ones I haven’t thought of yet) will have to wait until heaven when I no longer see in a mirror dimly. But now abide these three: faith, hope, and love.