Friday, May 14, 2010

Growing Pains

“If thoughts have consequences, then college has consequences. Thoughts do have consequences. So, college has consequences.” This is a simple argument in the famous argumentation form called Modus Ponens. In Logic we are learning that one set of premises in an argument can lead to conclusions in many seemingly unrelated arguments. Though this seems simple the effects of logic and the consequences of thought are monumental. In UFND we have discussed the effects of Protestant thought that have gone to conclusions Luther, Calvin, and many of the other reformers may not have wanted. In History of Ethics I began to see the cycles throughout time in which one thought process triggered many other consequential theories. These theories were more often than not pushing into to the uncomfortable extremes both for and against the original thought. These consequences of thought have split churches, propelled revolutions, and laid foundations for further thought…further consequences.
Whether it is the Power of Logic in philosophy classes, the power of a story in literature classes, or simply learning how to budget time and money while living in college the consequences are massive! And we a barraged with so many thoughts it is easy to be overwhelmed. Do women belong in ministry? Should a secular Jewish state exist? Predestination? Can warfare or violence be justified with “New Testament” Theology? Should we wait for God to execute Justice? Where is the balance between waiting for God to act and humans acting? Or does God not use the fallible? All of these questions hit me like a growth spurt hits a child in puberty. I thought my voice was one tone and then it shifts, cracks, and sounds as though some strange force has possessed me! I am realizing that the worldview in which I have been raised has consequences much larger than I could have dreamed only a year or two ago. These consequences have captured my conscience and catapulted me into a very exciting challenge in which I must decide how to respond.
There seems to be three general responses with young people in their relationship to their parents during the turbulence of puberty, rebellion, clinging, or growth. These responses mirror the reactions that the church had to modernity. The two extremes are in summery, digging in and defending or adjusting to the pressures of scientific and historical inquiry. These responses, though grossly oversimplified, are like clinging onto what one has been raised to believe or rebelling against the traditional disciplines. The third option of growth involves living a life unafraid to pursue truth wherever it leads. I like what Saint Augustine Had to say in “On Christian Teaching”
“A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities and deploring and avoiding those who 'though they knew God did not glorify him as God...”

So all truth is God’s truth and this growth is an ongoing and challenging process that takes time. The pursuit of truth is a lifelong discipline. The other two responses are a form of intellectual coping out because you either have to make the truth flexible enough to fit into your ideas or give up on trying to know anything. I don’t want to cop out but how does a kid really learn truth until it has grown not only in stature but experience?
It is almost comical this thing called university! We have kids and teachers alike going through this academic process and becoming experts on theory when most have never had experience. We talk about killing and warfare like virgins talking about sex. There are so many things that are sent swirling through my head and heart that it is tempting to just give up. But even then these thoughts have consequences! To give up once allows you to embrace giving up a second, third, and fourth time. University is like a chess game in which we are stuck and still must move. It is your turn but you do not have vision for the consequences that are eminent.
Maybe we can gain wisdom through others experience. Maybe we can listen to our parents and teachers and still fight to be aware of our socialization. I believe that it is possible to gain wisdom by walking with wise people. The consequences of this are an ability to have a reference point in all the swirling. There is a foundation that has been laid by other lives that have gone after truth and passed down what they know. That foundation tells me to be faithful in the little things and to keep on going. That foundation tells me that there is knowing beyond empirical understanding. I echo Pascal in saying "The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know." It is in that realm where love, faith, and reason collide and I find a reference point. From there I believe I can push on into this thing called University and pursue truth even through the growing pains.