20 May 2010


Graph from Naked Pastor.

On the way to, back from, and at the transFORM east coast gathering in DC the topics of over-certainty and vast uncertainty came up. Mostly they were in regards to knowledge of God, claimed or otherwise, and all else spiritual, theological, and moral. During Friday night's evening session Peter Rollins spoke at length about the veneer of (false) certainty slathered all over what people do as church.

I generally agree with Peter that churches have swung way too far into providing false certainty rather than a mix of the spectrum of what goes into strong faith. Some of what goes into that is honest doubt and not glossing over it. The older I have grown the less I am sure of anything about the exact character of God. Yet I am more (fairly) certain than ever (most of the time) about what God is not like.

Certainty can be arrogant when it doesn't allow for the possibility of being wrong. Certainty can be a substitute for faith and spirituality. Certainty can be a substitute for humility as if being certain in someone/thing/idea outside one's self allows the pride that this one/thing/idea is wholly correct and without addition, edit, or correction. Certainty CAN be very bad. If you are going to be certain, be certain about what you are certain about and spend a very long time getting to that place. Of course, chronic immature uncertainty can be a crutch and excuse.

So yeah, I feel a little wiser but it is a different world to me now. It is a world with ever shifting known foundations, powers, goals, and success. It is a world of known unknowns ever shifting into unknown unknowns. What do I mean? To explain here is a genius quote from, an odd source for me, a former U.S. Secretary of Defense:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.
- Donald Rumsfeld

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