The Book of Absolute Principles

We hear a lot about holding to truth and absolutes. I believe in absolute truth, but I don’t think it’s as easy to discern as we make it out to be. Multiple communities come to different absolute conclusions at times. Reason seems to be a convenient excuse to not use reason. We, as Christians, often believe in truth that we a) haven’t reasoned out ourselves and b) have ceased to accept new input on.

Even in the scientific method, there are variables that pertain to the basis premise, the phrasing of the hypothesis, how the data is collected, and how the data is analyzed. And if I am to be intellectually honest, then if new data appears, I can’t just say, “Well, I’ve already decided what’s true.”

But I’ve also seen in my life how I can ‘believe’ something, but not live as if I believe it, and I’ve seen that in others. What’s troubling is that we get to a point where we don’t feel we can express the ‘wrong answer’ even if it’s really how we feel. Yet we have the Psalms where David expressed a number of things that weren’t true about God. And we have the Bible, which in a number of ways, cannot be reduced to pure reason (read the Book of Acts). Yet, we take this powerful, poetic, supernatural book and reduce it to a book of principles about how to live. In the process, we try to ‘reason’ and ‘will’ ourselves to obey God, despite our inclinations for sin, self-deception, and selfishness, and then lament how the world isn’t following God’s principles.

I think people like Richard Foster, whose writings I will be commenting on soon, are on to something when they talk about the weakness of the will, and how important it is to recognize our poverty before the Lord. Like the rich young ruler, we want a set of principles and formulas to follow, and while those can assist, most of them don’t require we humbly encounter the Living God. I don’t need principles. I need a savior. And my need doesn’t end there…