Basic principles will always be the same, but the implications will shift with the context.
For those of you just catching up, you can review the Three Pillars in detail here. For those familiar with the concepts, I’ll be offering a brief contextual reminder. I was asked some questions today and it sparked a bit of thought. For those living in a Western society in general, and here in the US in particular, there are some interesting implications of the Three Pillars in how you face your daily existence.
Because we do not trust anyone, we do not divulge anything more of ourselves than the context demands. You should enter every situation bearing with you an element of mystery. You should be aware there are some things you couldn’t divulge if you wanted, but you should be hesitant to volunteer even when you can vocalize it. Of course, in a civilized world we always avoid burdening others with more than they need from us, and that basic rule reflects the other face of our natural distrust. You can’t avoid making yourself a target for any particular abuse in this world, but you need not make it particularly easy. That’s not self preservation so much as the natural result of keeping the focus where it belongs, on the truth and away from yourself.
There is nothing wrong with folks having a false impression of you. Our commitment to truth is not about us, but about the truth. Correct the impression if it’s necessary in revealing the truth, but otherwise it’s really not your problem. Preventing wasted effort or waste of resources can be a good reason to explain something not obvious about yourself. For example, I’m a vegetarian for the most part, so when some activity involves food, I’ll decide whether my preference matters for the sake of time and efficiency of materials. For a one-time deal in a mass feeding operation, my peculiarities don’t matter. As a guest in someone’s home, they need to know as soon as possible to avoid embarrassment. Truth has a function; it is not an absolute value.
The mission always comes first. If you have no idea what your mission is, that’s the first thing to figure out. Everything else in your life can wait. Your convictions will set limits on what the mission can or can’t be, what it can and can’t include. Your mission may well be something which never changes, but most often it will drift with the context. Divulge as much of yourself as necessary for the mission. You’ll always be learning how to estimate that. The mission is simply a term to describe what you really must do in your personal commitment to the truth. It includes discerning honestly your talents, weaknesses and willingness to take risks. What drives you?
Every moment of every day you are evaluating how you can make your mission. All human interaction must serve that. How you open up or don’t will be a matter of your personal character in pursuit of that mission. You are the means to revealing some element of truth, so be as true to your mission as you know how, because otherwise you don’t matter at all, and neither does any one else. Be aware of the feelings others will surely have, as you will have your own, but feelings are not there to rule, nor even to vote. Truth rules, and your mission is the obligation you have to truth.
Even for those closest to you, the one best thing you can ever do for them is meet the mission. For most of us, people are the mission, in one way or another. We are always ready to sacrifice for others, even in futile gestures, if what we do meets the mission. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. Truth at its deepest is seldom logical by any human standard.
Be prepared for folks to think you a fool, and prepare yourself for the misery of those you love most failing to understand. You love them enough to take the hit, and wait for the time when truth vindicates you. It will; it always does, though not necessarily while you live. The treasure of truth means you can afford some personal loss, so make the mission first in all things. Realize not every part of any given situation is in your power, but work with what does rest in your hands. Don’t let your tenderness for someone be an excuse to compromise the mission.
There are some who will make themselves the enemy of your mission, enemies of truth. Some of those people might live in the same house with you. Changing people is never the mission. All you can do is point out the path to change; it would never be truth if you could force someone to accept it. When necessary, you may be forced to take advantage of your enemy’s weaknesses. Not in the sense of abusing them, but understanding their foolishness so well, you manipulate them just enough to protect your mission. Speak whatever language they’ll hear, but don’t be deterred from the truth and your mission. It’s on your conscience to decide what that manipulation can include, and what shape it might take in a given context. Never do it when some other option is available to you. Never apologize for the mission, but always be prepared to heal any wounds, whether it’s your fault or not.
In the end, each moment of each day offers you an opportunity to pursue the mission. Success is not in what you accomplish, but in your commitment.
Truth is a Person, and can be communicated only person to person.
Aristotle’s insistence truth can be objectified served merely to guarantee the most important things we can know will never be addressed. The existence of all the universe is directly tied to the existence of a living being. Envision it as Creation, or however you like it, but the whole reason for the universe is a place for life. Given we know only the life on our own planet, there’s not much point speculating about other forms of sentient life on this plane of existence. The problem is Aristotle in essence denied there was any other plane.
That we are detached from the higher plane is the result of choices made far away and long ago. We are born into a broken world, and before we can develop any sense of being ourselves, that brokenness is absorbed and forms a part of our nature. But if we do not absorb the brokenness, we are simply animals. Humanness comes from dealing with other humans, however many the barriers are between us. We all experience those nameless urges for some Other, despite how our communion with other humans never quite satisfies.
The only way we know anything at all is because of our contact with other knowers. I’m sure Aristotle and his friends were well acquainted with the various mystical religions of the world. We know those religions had representatives in that part of the world, and it’s hard to imagine their documents weren’t available in one form or another. Thus, it was a conscious choice of Aristotle to reject anything they suggested about knowing on a level beyond the conscious intellect. For those who accept the Bible narrative as any reflection of the truth, this was nothing more than affirming the Fall. Whatever else we take from the Fall narrative in Scripture, we can see that business of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was about taking the presumption of judging what was good and evil. It was the choice to place the intellect on the throne, and this was what severed our direct link to the higher realm, and to higher knowing. The stain was indelible, and spread to all humanity.
For a Christian, this means asserting truth can be propositional is simply asserting the Fall was the right choice, the Eve was right in taking the fruit of that forbidden tree. Agreeing with Aristotle is agreeing with Satan as to what our destiny in Creation should be. I find most of the ones who insist faith has to be reasonable are folks who simply fear the unknown ground of mysticism. They hate it because they can’t assert their control over it. The Fall is partially wrapped up in denying God’s authority, and seizing control over the business of knowing. There is evil to be found in exploring mysticism as an approach to knowing, but there is no truth in knowing without it.
A primary doctrinal assertion of our ministry has always been the utter necessity of person to person communication. We see historically how written communication can serve a useful purpose in either provoking interest, or reminding someone of an experience of personal contact, but nothing can replace face to face communion. That’s what we lost in the Fall, and we have to reestablish it to the degree possible. So while I am willing to put my ideas out here on the Net by writing, you will not ever see an audio or video recording. Those things build a false link; they give the impression of knowing another person, but it’s artificial, scripted. Nothing replaces time spent in the presence of another, seeing them when they aren’t performing for an audience — we all do it, it’s part of our brokenness. If you don’t like reading, you’ll need to arrange a face to face meeting with us.
It’s not simply the lack of technology which prevented the early Christians using any other means of communication. They knew instinctively it required time and personal presence. Had you given them a printing press, they would still have insisted on going in person to the places they felt led to take their message. That business of laying hands directly on another person was not entirely symbolic. There’s no magic, as we tend to think of things today, but it’s the necessity of hearing, feeling, even smelling another person which cannot be duplicated any other way.
Truth is communicated only through the living presence of someone who is wired to that truth. That’s because Truth itself is a Person, and He cannot be known objectively.