Commonplace Book #107

The argument that there is a single truth about some important matters and that one should strive to find it should be plausible to Christians.  After all, do we not believe that the day will come when the secrets of the hearts will be revealed and when God will say out loud the way things really were–who did what to whom and by what means? No doubt, there is more to divine judgment than setting the records straight; the One who judges at the end of history is the same One who “justifies sinners” in the middle of history.  But can divine judgment be anything less than setting the records straight?  Anyone who holds to the classical doctrine of God will be compelled to search in some sense for “the way things really were.”  As Richard J. Mouw and Sander Griffoen argue, if there is an all-wise and all-knowing divine Person whose perspective on what happens matters, then it is difficult to see how Christians could deny that there is “objective” truth about history and that it is important to try to find it out.

Trying is not the same as succeeding, however.  Though God knows that way things were and will one day say it out loud, human beings know only partially and can say it only inadequately.  There is no way to climb up to God’s judgment seat to make infallible pronouncements, so to speak, in God’s stead as God’s vicars on earth.  Christians know God, but they do not know all that God knows–at least not yet, though Thomas Aquinas believed that one day they will….We know only something of what God knows–as much and as little as God has revealed.  It so happens that God tells us much about how ought to be saved, but nothing about what we should think about Native American history after the arrival of Europeans or about what transpired between Tamils and Sengalese in Sri Lanka over past decades.  Our belief in an all-knowing God notwithstanding, we are left on our own to search for “what was the case,” sustained by the persuasion that there is an eternal truth, one not skewed by particular standpoints, because there is an everlasting universal God.

The belief in an all-knowing God should inspire the search for truth; the awareness of our human limitation should make us modest about the claims that we have found it.

Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 242-243.

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