Sunday, May 25, 2014

Half measures and truth

I was reading this article, and was struck by a general idea. Half measures on matters of truth do no one any favors. Whether it is in the realm of economics, or politics, or theology, moderating for the sake of the hearer doesn't accomplish anything.

First you do yourself a disservice, by watering down the truth you do violence to yourself. Is it true that saving money is a good thing? Is it true that liberty is an inalienable right? Is it true that Christ came into the world to save sinners? If so then saying that saving money is only moderatly helpful for your finances, or that liberty is important, or that Christ came into the world to make it a better place only causes you to lie via a half truth. If your ideas are sound, and you wish to convey the truth, then moderating your stance for the sake of being heard only undermines your ideas. Are you fighting for the truth, or merely putting out a list of vague suggestions? If we are discussing matters of the utmost importance, then it seems to me you owe it to your hearer and to yourself for the sake of the truth you are trying to convey to not waffle and make half measures.

Secondly, you do your hearer a disservice. If they are willing to accept your idea on a given subject then you have won them over to the truth, but let's say for the sake of making it more tolerable you use a half measure and they accept it. You haven't won them to the truth, you have won them to a watered down version there of. This might not matter in small issues, but it will when you are talking about important matters. In the case of economics, if you tell someone they can get rich by spending money, and don't bother to mention the little detail that you mean spending money on assets, then they will blame you or the truth you were trying to convey when they go bankrupt. Similarly, Jesus did not come into the world to make it a better place. He did not come into the world so you and I could stand around a camp fire singing praise songs. Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and to redeam the world. Is a benefit of this the former two thoughts? Sure, but to state the former two without the latter is like saying that you should save up money to eat well. Of course you should eat well, but it is a biproduct of the primary reason, that is to allow yourself to live and thrive. The purpose of being saved is the washing away of individual sins and coming into a personal path of sanctification, not to make the world a better place. As C.S. Lewis says a world of nice people content in their niceness would be in just of much need of a savior as a bad one.

Finally, I believe that if we are speaking of matters of importance, whether it be economics, politics, or theology, we need to have ardent debates and state our positions clearly and fully. Calling myself a pseudo capitalist, or conservative, or orthodox Anglican does not help me put forward the truths I believe are foundational to reality, nor does it help those I debate with understand my stance any better. I think some believe they are being kind by watering down the gospel, but they are in fact being cruel. They are giving moral sanction to deny the truth, and in the process denying the truth they ought to be upholding. We are the frog in the boiling pot, first we don't want to mess up presenting the gospel in a good way, so we wait. Then we don't want to rock the boat, so we refrain, and finally we simply don't want to bother and whomever we are dealing with never hears the gospel from us. My actions will proclaim the gospel you say. You say preach the gospel, use words when necessary. I say the gospel is words, and you cannot convey gospel truths without useing them. Perhaps that water filter you instaled in that village is a sign of the gospel, or maybe it's a sign of how nice America is, without explicitly expressing one or the other how is the villager to know?

Some good reading on these topics can be found below. I hope you find it edifying.

Confession of Faith

Another confession


Recommend anything Austrian, but particularly Economics in One Lesson if you are looking for a short read.