The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

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Absolute Truth vs. Relativism

With all this talk about what is truth and how do we know what's true, I was looking into the concept of having a 'hermeneutics of humility' and came across a really interesting article by Philip D. Kenneson, a professor of theology and philosophy at Milligan. I'd love to know your thoughts.


Nick Johnson said...


Thanks for posting this article. It was a tough read but I would recommend it to everyone. I had to go pretty slowly, and I’m not sure I understand it all yet, but I still think I got a lot out of it.

My favorite part was where he quoted Cardinal Suhard near the end of the article: “To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.” I was struck quite a bit by that. It reminded me of something Jane said (I can’t recall if she said it in a group meeting or one of our own conversations of which we have many). Basically, instead of a having a statement of beliefs or whatever, we show what we believe by how we act – if someone wants to know what our group is about they should ask what do we do, not what do we believe. Words, after all, can be quite divisive. If someone doesn’t agree with a tenet of belief they will often leave the group as a whole. Actions are much more fluid in a way, and much more inviting.

I am struggling, though, with thinking about how to describe this to evangelicals who still happily exist in modernism. They ask me what I believe and I can’t think of a way to answer that means anything to them. Perhaps it’s not possible to answer a question that was not the correct one to ask, but I tell them what I do and that doesn’t seem to help. Basically, it is getting harder for me to communicate to modernists (though I doubt they would call themselves that) as it seems like we are speaking different languages. I find it quite depressing as I have no wish to leave a large population behind. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? I can elaborate on that if need be.

Finally, Kristen, what are your thoughts? Don’t think you get to post this hefty article and not have to comment on it:)

Jesse said...

This topic is so deep, but I do want to jump in a bit, so I thought I'd post a brief essay I wrote for class.

"Because the acceptance model (of religious pluralism) deconstructs absolute claims, it leaves the believer with no firm ground upon which to stand. The result is either essential agnosticism (an epistemically hollow yet "hopeful" faith) or ridiculous speculations about what "could be out there." Both are less compelling than the rejected absolutes.

Rather, the necessity of postmodern epistemology should be used as a tool to a greater understanding of "near absolutes." Although this is not Netland's intent, I see his statement as a description of realistic postmodern epistemology: "The influences of globalization interact with indigenous social and cultural patterns…what results is not the disappearance of the latter but rather a fresh expression in which the new coexists with the old" (pg. 86, emphasis added). Postmodernism reminds the believer that nothing is absolutely certain and other perspectives abound. Yet these "others" are neither feared nor rejected. By revisiting convictions, the valuable relative experiences of the world religions help an individual to learn more about the truths s/he holds as absolute and thereby reach a more mature truth. Human nature requires truths that are really true in the truest sense, even if they are continually reexamined. Otherwise the impetus for action or belief is stripped away."