Friday, June 15, 2012


By putting Cliff back on the Hope Channel the SDA church is showing it isn't wholly anti-intellectual. Cliff Goldstein is helping bring the SDA church into the late 19th century, philosophically anyway. (Sorry, I know that is a back-handed compliment but when you place Adventism within the context of the history of America and fundamentalism, the SDA church isn't as bad as many denominations.) Adventists are about 1811 years a little late on most theology too, but praise the Lord.... baby steps are good.

Even though Cliff doesn't really bring much theology into this episode, this particular one is about interpretation of reality which might quite subtly take us back to the garden of Eden. (My subjective interpretation of where he must be going in part two, maybe?) Here's the link:


"Interpretation by its nature is subjective," Mr. Goldstein says. Good. That's a really good start. Then he finishes by asking us if we are wrongly interpreting reality. "Is your view distorted?  Are you getting reality right?"

Humm, that is the crux isn't it? How does one find out if one's interpretation of reality is correct or not? You cannot look within your self or your heart. Reality is something that happens to you, you have no control over it and we tend towards living a reality that doesn't place us in constant stress. It is said that in the midst of huge crisis such as a devastating earthquake or a serious car crash (or 911) people tend to try and force reality to normalize. That is why people who were fleeing the Twin Towers after it was hit got halfway down and went back to their offices because they forgot to turn off their computers or grab their purses.

We cannot trust our own brains in achieving an accurate phenomenology (assuming as Christian we believe there is one). We have only what our senses can tell us and that is only giving us a tiny percentage of what is actually occurring. God has revealed in scripture over and over that His thoughts, His ways are far above ours. He knows the beginning from the end and He tells us not to trust in our own hearts, minds or interpretations of reality.

So, again, if our interpretation is subjective and often wrong, (which we, of course, have no inner red flag to alert us when we have wrongly interpreted reality) we have to go somewhere outside ourselves to reveal to us just exactly what reality is.

That is terrifying for most of us, because we have an independent do-it-ourselves American spirit that preaches to us that we must trust our own personal conscience and senses more than anything. "Man is the measure of all things" and of course I am that man. Our humanistic rationalism demands that we subject all things to ourselves (and in a sense this empiric gospel makes us gods--knowing good from evil and what "is".)

So... thinking Christians are forced into the wholly vulnerable situation of seeking to understand reality from another source. We can all agree that source is God, but how does this ontological quest manifest itself? Through prayer? Through Bible study? Nope. Both of those are hardly less subjective than the five senses. God doesn't abandon us in a vortex of circular argument.

Did God place a who or what on this earth that could accurately describe reality?

I guess we need to first delve into the idea of reality first. Any thoughts?