Personal Online Journal

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Other Ways of Knowing

We believe that doubt can have a powerful and tremendously useful and productive function in one's faith journey, but its something that we aspire to move through and beyond; not to wallow in endlessly. And then the idea "a crucible refines us", the scriptural imagery of a refiner's fire. There is something to be said for the way in which a crucible tries you but ultimately can strengthen you. (Terryl Givens, "Reflections on the Quest For Faith by Terryl and Fiona Givens", Fair Mormon Interview, YouTube 7:21)
It is a great interview of both Terryl and his wife Fiona about their book, The Crucible of Doubt. Questions are what started the Reformation and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love the way he describes other ways of knowing besides rationality.
We are great admirers of science. I am personally. Our culture is today and we should be. Science has pioneered incredible new frontiers. It's been the spearhead of technological innovation and enhanced standard of living. The problem is when we come to think that science or rationality are the only, or the necessarily superior avenues to ultimate truth and knowledge. A little bit of reflection indicates that in our actual, lived experience, that's never the case.

We don't rely upon logic or rationalism or science for those decisions of greatest importance and moments in our own lives. We don't shape our moral responses on the basis of reason. We don't say for example that rape or child abuse is wrong because of some calculus of cost benefits. We intuitively, instinctively respond on the basis of moral intuition to those realities, as well we should. So our point is: Why in religion should we not also credit other ways of knowing. 

Art is another means that we give some examples of. Art can be much more powerful and effective in revealing and conveying truth, than any cold analysis of facts. Perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, Einstein, once said, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." ( ) All we are trying to do is help in this work of rehabilitating the gift of intuition and spiritual discernment along side of science and rationalism.
(Terryl Givens, 19:52)
I had never thought of the Savior as an example of asking questions. Fiona explains,
The Savior is the model here. When we look at the garden of Gethsemane treatment by Luke, Christ looks at what's in front of him and he realizes the horror that it entails and he doesn't want to go there. So he asks God to please make a way for his escape. But God can't do that. He can't take the cup. There are billions of people, whose salvations rely on this particular event by this particular man who cannot be replaced.

What Christ does then is that, famous, "not my will, but thine, be done". We tend to breeze over that. What Christ is actually saying there is, "I understand that you may not be able to take this away but please give me a way to be able to endure it". He gives God room to answer his question in another way. And God is able to do that. God then sends an angel who comforts and supports the Savior through his agony.

I think that is the risk that we have to take. We have to open ourselves out to the myriad ways God may actually respond to our question. He may not be able to take that cancer away. That may be something He is not able to do so in our questing there is this trust element that God will somehow answer our question in another way. Help us be able to go through this.

That shows great risk. But I think it also shows that God is trying to talk to us in numerous voices. He is trying to help us see His hand print in various parts of our lives. So by not requiring God to answer us in the way we expect him to answer, we are more likely to receive answers to our questions in beautiful, miraculous and God-touched ways. (Fiona Givens, 34:20)

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