Thursday, April 30, 2009

Absolutely True?

Are there things that are absolutely true---things that are not open to question---things that can’t change---things that allow for no exceptions whatsoever. Are there “absolutes”? For me, there are five absolutes. I believe a lot of things with varying degrees of certainty, but I am absolutely certain about these five things.

First, I believe life, the world, history, have meaning. There is a “why” to it all. I believe we are not a chance happening of nature. I believe the human story is not merely a series of episodes and challenges. I believe it is all part of an evolving cosmic enterprise. I believe we are responsible for the directions and outcomes of the enterprise.

Second, I believe the human mind can and does know what we call objective truth. What is truth? Truth is “what is”, “what is so”. There are many philosophers who affirm that the human mind can only categorize our sense perceptions and observations, and can’t have any real knowledge of things and events in themselves. I believe that in and through our senses the human mind can and does really know “what is” and “what is so”. I believe human knowledge is not limited to forming mental categories of our sense experience. I believe human knowledge can and does go beyond sense experience, and can and does know and understand things and events in themselves---objective truth.

I believe also that we can and do know objective good. What is “good”? Good is what “ought to be” and “what ought to be done”. I believe that “what ought to be” and “what ought to be done” are not merely categories within the mind. I believe the mind can and does know and evaluate values and behaviors in themselves---objective good.

Third, I believe the human being is a free and self-responsible person. We are eminently more than a piece of machinery. We can and do act and react beyond material and physical forces. We are more than a collection of synapses, more than the result of positive and negative conditioning, conscious or subconscious. Human beings are more than the sum of their parts. We are self-determining, not as self-determining as we think we are, but neither are we as pre-determined as physiologists/ psychologists/psychiatrists/ behaviorists tell us. We are animals, but way more than that. We are persons. We have free will. So, I believe we can be and should be the author of our own uniqueness Free will means not that human beings do whatever they want. Our personhood, our capacities for self-determination, mean we should become everything we can become and we should do everything we can do to the fullest extent of our potential for our own good, for the good of others, and for the good of the world.
Fourth, I believe in God. Belief in God is personal. To believe in God is to acknowledge each and every day God’s personal relationship to us and our personal relationship to God. I do not believe I can prove the existence of God. We cannot and do not get to a personal belief in God through logical arguments. Belief in God is a gift to be hoped for and prayed for. I believe God is Love, and Love is God.

Fifth, I believe Jesus the Christ, is gloriously alive. Jesus who died on the cross rose from death not to return to the life he knew. Jesus rose to live as God lives. I believe the same divine power by whom Jesus was raised from the dead also dwells in us and in all creation. In the power of the Spirit of God we are raised to new life and empowered to love as Jesus loved and to serve as agents of the cosmic enterprise. By the power of the Spirit of God our minds are enlightened to know what is the truth and what is the good. By the power of the Spirit of God our freedom is healed and enhanced. By the power of the Spirit of God our faith is strengthened and increased. I believe that Jesus gloriously alive is the greatest and the most certain of all absolutes, because the revelation of the power of the Spirit of God, whose Name is Love, is the infallible source of all meaning and all hope and all self-realization.

These are my absolutes. I could live well enough if the Bible were not the Word of God. I could live well enough if God were not Triune. I could live well enough if the Church were entirely a human invention. I could live well enough if the sacraments were only ritual. I could live well enough if religious doctrines and philosophical teachings and scientific positions and theories were debunked one after another. BUT I would not know how I could live, if life and the world had no meaning, or if I were imprisoned within my own mind and had to be satisfied with only subjective opinions about truth and goodness, or if my powers of self-determination were an illusion and I were nothing more than a highly developed animal or perhaps a fleshy robot, or if God did not exist and God’s name were not Love, or if Jesus’ death on the cross were the end of him.

These are my absolutes. What are yours?

(Rev.) Russell G. Ruffino, Vicar
Church of the Resurrection

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