Monday, July 09, 2007

When to Defend Truth

My "three maxims" post of a few days ago needs a qualification at point #3, which stated, "Defend the truth, whatever the cost." Strictly speaking, this is not advisable in a universal sense. My point--given in epigrammatic form--was that we need backbone and fortitude in standing up for what is true. However, not every truth demands defense in every setting.

There is a time and purpose for everything under heaven, as Ecclesiastes says, "a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing." As Jesus exhorted us, we must be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16).

So, while the truth should never be denied, one must find wisdom for when and how to present and defend it. We must never deny Christ, of course. Nor should we keep silent when it is time to speak. But it is not always the proper time to speak. We need a Spirit-led sense of (1) what the most important truths are, (2) how to defend them, and (3) when to defend them.

I am not backing down here, but clarifying an epigram--at the urging of a wise person who shares my last name and who is much more discreet.

3 comments:

Paul D. Adams said...

Amen.

John Stockwell said...

DG wrote:
1. Follow the argument, wherever it leads.
2. Accept the truth, whatever it is.
3. Defend the truth, whatever the cost.


DG backed some water:
My "three maxims" post of a few days ago needs a qualification at point #3, which stated, "Defend the truth, whatever the cost." Strictly speaking, this is not advisable in a universal sense. My point--given in epigrammatic form--was that we need backbone and fortitude in standing up for what is true. However, not every truth demands defense in every setting.


Indeed, Maxim #3 is the justification for every evil committed in the name of every ideology ever invented, right down to today's suicide bombers and the bogus science of intelligent design theorists.

In fact, the fundamental probem is that we do not a priori know "the truth". What we do know are the observations that we make and the things that we have found empirically to "work" (as defined by satisfying some specific wants and needs). We know the "truth" in some partial sense, but have better luck in identifying (and hopefully rooting out) falsehoods as we encounter them.

This why for our general understanding of the world, the axiom-deductive system has relegated to the world of mathematics, where it seems that a relatively useful set of axioms has been adoptable, but has largely been abandoned for the rest of our activities.

When we forget that we are not infinitely knowledgable, that we are investigators and not pontificators, then we are lost.

Douglas Groothuis said...

Good night, John. Defending the truth does not mean killing one's intellectual interlocutors. That makes no sense nor can it be inferred from what I wrote. Really, you are reading in all kinds of nonsense.