A Truth Universally Acknowledged

May 20, 2008, 11:00 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, Erin, Featured  | 2 Comments

The much-beloved first sentence to Jane Austen\’s Pride and Prejudice (“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”) is fantastic not only for its sarcastic poke at Regency culture, but also for the way it prompts the reader to think in similarly skeptical ways about his or her present context.

One might argue that being a skeptic is not a positive thing, but I believe that skepticism, in and of itself, can be beneficial. With the rise of postmodernism, where truth is here and there and everywhere, a mind that is discerning — skeptical? — is an advantageous acquisition for even the most casual perusal of, well, you know, those deep things in life, like faith, purpose, and relationship.

To deconstruct the idea of a “truth that is universally acknowledged” is a scary process for even the most moderately-minded Christian, and requires a certain depth of faith that I am not entirely sure I possess. In the last three days, my class has been engaging in this deconstructionist style of conversation. I admit that I love the dialogue, but I am terrified by what I know to be my weakness: accepting too much upon hearing it once. To what degree can I remain solid in my beliefs (and what are those anyway?) while still remaining open to the idea that they are an incomplete picture of a God who cannot be completely captured? This is the problem of amateur ecumenics!

Perhaps I should clarify what I mean by “deconstruct.” I do not mean that by deconstructing we can do away with the idea that a truth (and not necessarily the truth) is universally acknowledged. Rather, I mean that to deconstruct an idea is to attempt to strip it down to its birthday suit and understand it for what it really is: ugly, flawed, and badly in need of a trip to the health club. I believe that a truth can and should be universally acknowledged, but what truth (singular)?

The important thing, I am coming to realize, is that deconstruction is only useful if it is followed by reconstruction. Sure, tear down the poor slob of an idea, but for goodness\’ sake, give him back his clothes, hand him a comb, and point him in the direction of the YMCA. And do it with the knowledge that he might have changed in the process.

Do I believe there is truth that can and should be universal? Yes.
Do I think that I comprehend this? Not fully.
Do others have a better grip on this than I do? Absolutely.
Are all of these others Christians? Certainly not.

God, please grant me the discernment to suspend my biases, my criticisms, even my Western ethos, in favor of a telos that is You.


2 Comments to “A Truth Universally Acknowledged”

  1. Steve on May 21st, 2008 11:34 am

    I completely agree with the spirit of your article. The analog[ue] for me was law school, where much is made of the need to question everything and consider one’s reasons for belief. But for many, that leaves a deconstructed (as you say) void they never quite fill, which seems a crime to me. Cynicism is poison.

  2. Dsweetgoober on May 21st, 2008 4:29 pm

    I once had a small child in nursery who kept running up and pointing to the clock on the wall and repeating “What time is it? What time is it?” In frustration I finally answered “11:15”. He looked at me like “What are you talking about?” then toddled off to begin the process all over again. A parent had apparrently taught him that little trick.

    I have never understood the value in teaching people to ask questions for which they lack the capacity to comprehend the answers. Deuteronomy 29:29 says “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law”.

    If I can’t comprehend some valuable “truth” from reading and studying God’s word then it is either not a truth, not valuable or not revealed. Either way it is removed from his purposes for my life by the scripture above which divides “truths” into two categories. What he hasn’t said which is none of my concern, and what he has said which is to be kept and used to perform his will in my life.

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