Re: [asa] "Certainty" in Theology

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Sun Jun 10 2007 - 02:08:31 EDT

"Certainty" and "theology" taken together can open many cans of worms if we allow. If there had been no certainty of heaven, there would have been far fewer murders in the name of God down through the ages by both Christians and Muslims.

Doctrinal certainty is definitely out of reach in this world: From reading "Holy Scripture" from cover to cover I conclude that--apart from a few key teachings--doctrinal purity has been low on God's list of priorities.

Jesus expected total, childlike faith from his followers but advised those followers to be skeptical of others. So the way it's supposed to work is that one has total certainty in Jesus' presence: Whatever Jesus says is most certainly true because he's the one who says it. Scientists are trained to be skeptical, so this kind of surrender to another human being is problematic. In fact it's problematic for many kinds of people. It would seem the gullible have a big advantage--unless the wolf in sheep's clothing comes along....

Theological certainty, where it exists, seems to require a high level of gullibility.

But I myself own a few theological certainties, and I don't consider myself gullible. For example, I cannot not believe in God.

In gaining this certainty I passed through three stages:
    1. I "believed in" God but could easily imagine that God did not exist.
    2. God "showed himself" to me. He became a real person about whom I had extreme doubts. Living with these recurring doubts made my existence intolerable.
    3. Ultimately God satisfied my desire for him in a way that precludes my ever doubting his existence again.

How did God do this? Through establishing extended "extrasensory" relationship. "Extrasensory perception" is real, but it's been difficult for parapsychologists to verify it, partly because they're trying to measure the wrong kind of phenomena, and partly because the right kind of phenomena are very difficult (or impossible) to measure.

I contend that God commonly interacts with his people through his Spirit, and this kind of interaction would be called extrasensory by parapsychologists. I extrapolate from my experience to conclude that certain kinds of "theological certainty" may stem not from gullibility but from direct inspiration of God's Spirit. A problem is that people so inspired often misinterpret such inspiration and make inappropriate applications. I've done that kind of thing often enough myself.



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Received on Sun Jun 10 02:04:40 2007

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