The Truth is like a Maypole Dance

I have listened to many people who have claimed to have The Truth. To be honest, when I was younger, in my arrogance I thought I knew “The truth”, when others had missed it.

However, I now think truth is quite a difficult thing to pun down. The precise definition of truth is dependant on where you are now, and where you are headed.

The picture I use is a maypole dance. Accepted that this is a pagan fertility symbol, but it still has something to teach us.

Let us assume that the maypole is the absolute undisputable truth – God’s peculiar knowledge – then we are the dancers, each holding a ribbon. While we dance, we slowly get closer to the absolute truth, but never looking directly at the truth, or moving directly towards it.

We have our personal and social perspectives, that prevent us seeing the objective truth, only the subjective. However, when we continue with life’s dance, we move around and see from different perspectives, and gradually, the ribbon plaits and we get closer and closer to the absolute truth together.

However, when one of life’s dancers insists where they know the absolute truth where they are and stands still, it breaks the dance, and nobody is able to get any closer to the pole of absolute truth, and instead the ribbons start to get tangled around the person who stands still.

Just as scientist depart from science, when they claim to know anything as Truth, so all of us must retain the humility of seeing through a glass darkly, and continue to seek enlightenment. When we insist know the absolute truth now, we simply demonstrate our folly, and cause others to get tangled too.

The Advantages of a Broad Church

“What kind of Christian are you?”

I have no real idea how to answer that. I’m just not sure where to pitch myself. I used to be an evangelical. I still think of myself as being so, but I’m not sure everyone would agree.

You could describe me as Progressive, and I definitely agree a lot more closely with a lot of “Progressive” doctrines than “Conservative” evangelicals, especially those in US. I believe evolution happens, and that the world is billions of years old.

I’m a member of an Anglican church, but I’m not sure that helps to identify me.

The Anglican Church is a broad church, and that is a good thing.

It is necessary to question progressive change, with an eye to the Bible and the church’s traditions, so as to ensure that progressive ideals do not depart from Christ centred Christianity. Tradition acts as a break that prevents us moving too fast to be able to see the perhaps unintended impacts of good intentions.

However, it is equally necessary to have progressives challenging the traditional interpretation of Scripture and sacrament, as was demonstrated by Wilberforce et al., when the Abolitionists questioned the “scriptural” defence of slavery that was prevalent at the time.

It would seem like the response to people of alternate sexuality demonstrates this tension. The conservatives strongly disapprove, quoting bible verses to justify their position. The progressives say that it’s not an issue and quote different verses to justify their position. In the meantime, the church looks very foolish to those outside, and fails to carry out its mission because it spends a lot of its energy in-fighting.

The challenge to progressives, and traditionalists both, is to learn to value each other’s contribution to the Church, rather than to see the other as “the problem”. That way we can, between us, discern God’s will for to care for each other, the world, and show God’s love to everyone without discrimination.