Brian E Pearson
Truths, not Truth
There may be one universal Truth behind all truths, one Source within all sources, One God beyond all gods. This is, in fact, what I believe. But we cannot know this with certainty, not in this lifetime, and not on this mortal plain. All we have, here and now, are hints and intimations, experiences and revelations: truths, in other words, not Truth.
Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians that one day we will know fully, face to face; but until that day we see only partially, as if through a glass, darkly. If only he had taken such common-sense humility to heart. Instead, he went on to say that women shouldn't speak in church, that men should cover their heads, and that homosexuality is perverse. He said all this as if he already knew, fully.
This is the problem with capital-T Truth. The moment we think we've got it, we deceive ourselves and our vision darkens. In this lifetime we will never know the Truth, as much as we may desire it. We will only know things that seem to be true, and only in this passing instant. I believe my wife loves me. This is based on my experience of her care and consideration for me through twelve happy years of marriage. I hope it lasts the rest of our lives. But what do I know?
If I take my small truths as capital-T Truth, turning them into hardened belief, I risk driving any enduring truthfulness away. To presume in my wife's love for me, to take it for granted, is to introduce the possibility that I will frustrate her affection for me by becoming a less likeable person, an asshole even. It is precisely because I cannot guarantee that she will love me the rest of my life that I walk with a bit more circumspection, and a lot more care.
Our religious beliefs follow a similar pattern. The more we cling to the tenets of our faith as unquestionable and beyond doubt, the more likely it is we will violate those very tenets by becoming less loving to our neighbour, and least loving of all to those who disagree with us or who live by some other code. When we "love the sinner" while "hating the sin," we trash both in the same sweep of our judgmental gaze.
The New Dispensation asks that we hold our truths lightly, provisionally. It asks that we have faith, which is flexible, rather than belief, which is not. Faith invites us to follow the Divine Spirit in a dance of constant discovery, right to the very end, when finally we will know fully. In the meantime, we've been given just enough truth to get us there.
Next Week: Wonder, not Belief