OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

Truth and context

Truth and context

The phrase ‘all truth is God’s truth’ is polemical, it belongs to a particular debate - a response, presumably, to the post-enlightenment tendency to separate out realms of thought into different categories such as religious and scientific. So rather than treat it simply as a universally true proposition that can be brandished with equal effect under any circumstances, I would suggest that we have to ask about the rhetorical and argumentative conditions under which the statement is made. This in itself is a postmodern insight: propositions may have a situational relevance that is lost or distorted when the context changes or when we try to universalize the statement.

The same principle applies to the creation stories. We have to consider what questions the ancient community would have been trying to answer. What sort of philosophical-religious debate is presupposed by the story about knowledge and disobedience? What alternative narratives were current that needed to be countered in the light of a covenantal monotheism?

That suggests a further point. It seems to me that what must have priority is our commitment to a certain definition of - or story about - God. This perspective or presumption must remain visible in our conversations about truth. This is the sense in which I would understand myself as postmodern: I don’t particularly need to argue for an absolute form of truth or defend some such blanket statement as ‘all truth is God’s truth’; but I need to admit that I see the world as someone who believes himself to have been invited into a community that tells a particular story about itself. We have to have the debate about whether or to what extent that story interferes with or contradicts the other epistemological commitments that we have but we don’t need to prejudge the outcomes of that debate.

All Truth is God's Truth... or... By: mars-hill (26 replies) 18 August, 2005 - 11:39