Thursday 8 March 2012

Fallen man - do you want to understand, or be convinced?


With regard to difficult doctrines like the Fall of Man - when you ask a question on the topic, do you want to understand it? Or is your attitude that you are challenging others to convince you of the fact?



Wm Jas said...

Both, I suppose. The goal is to find out (1) what the doctrine is and (2) whether or not it is true.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - but I presume you get the point that 2. can only come after 1. but that the way it happens in practice is often that people insist on being convinced before that know what it is they are supposed to be convinced of.

Wm Jas said...

I disagree. The steps can be, and often are, reversed. In fact, in the context of religious belief, it is probably more common for belief/assent to precede understanding. First you take it on faith that Christian doctrine (whatever that may turn out to be) is true, and then you try to figure out exactly what that means.

Wurmbrand said...

The Church, by which I don't simply mean the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox family of churches, but the Una Sancta, is the repository of divine truth. Through fallible teachers, she imparts this revelation, which, though it may transcend doctrinal propositions, is not less than doctrinal propositions (as formulated in creeds, liturgies, etc.).

It is the calling of no one teacher, not even the pope, to expound the Church's doctrines definitively. Thus I'm uneasy about the matter if someone thinks he needs to find out what the doctrine is by reading one person's exposition of it, which the reader is then free to dismiss if he is not persuaded.

The Church's ministers are called to proclaim the Gospel. They may defend it by various arguments as they speak in the "marketplace." But the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will confirm the truths of the Faith to and in those whose hearts He has opened, even where those truths are not exhaustively expounded or firmly embraced by the intellect. Some who hear the Gospel will refuse it and it will be their fault, not that of the Spirit.

Faith seeks understanding. Faith is wrought entirely by the Holy Spirit as a gift.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas and Dale. Well, you are both - of course - correct in some situations; and in a deep sense.

However, maybe you underestimate the sheer ignorance of people concerning religious matters, and what people think Christianity is.

At any rate, I was extraordinarily ignorant on these matters - despite a lot of exposure to them. But I thought I knew, and that blocked finding-out.

Wm has been a Mormon missionary, so presumably had the experience of trying to inform people from the ground up and zero knowledge what is Mormonism.

But maybe (once the thing that everyone 'knows' - i.e. the old polygamy business - has been corrected) this may be easier than trying to overcome the interference from the lies, ignorance and distortions people have about mainstream Christianity?

The Crow said...

The fall of Christianity is probably the end result of an obsession with 'understanding'.
The quest for understanding leads to interpretation. Interpretation leads to disagreement and conflict.
It is not necessary to understand God, or God's works.
It would seem to be, in fact, impossible. Not to mention pretentious.
Quiet acceptance of what is, serves far better.
If one requires an obsession, at all, then let it be to recognize what is.

Wurmbrand said...

Crow, the doctrine of the Fall is part of an answer to why the Son of God became incarnate. Similarly it is part of an answer to why Christians are baptized -- even their infants. It is integral to an understanding of why there is suffering, and to an understanding of the eschatological hope. It is part of Christianity's understanding of the unity of mankind. While some people may play with the idea of polygenesis, Christians who believe the historic Faith are bound forever to the belief that every human being is related to every other human being; if we are all children of fallen Adam, we are all brothers and sisters of one another, a fact in the face of which "race" means basically nothing.

And so on!

The doctrine of the Fall is integral to Christian faith, even though Christians may vary somewhat in their understanding of just what it was/is.