Ideas About Discovering Spiritual Truth

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to unlock spiritual truth.  This is a challenging matter, because spiritual truth is neither objective nor provable.  So how do you define and discover the truths upon which you’ll shape your life…without driving yourself crazy?

Here’s my approach — a work in progress, of course.  I guess you could call it Katie’s personal epistemology.  🙂

  • Spiritual Truth Exists. Somewhere, someplace, there is actual, objective truth – Things As They Really Are, in Every Detail.
  • Human Beings Are Limited in Our Capacity to Comprehend Truth. Human beings cannot comprehend all truth.  It is beyond our capacity.  We all see through a glass, darkly – a glass made dark by our cultural, psychological, social, and historical biases.  So while objective spiritual truth exists, no human being fully understands it – nor can they ever.
  • The Best We Can Do Is Catch Glimpses and Tastes. It’s not like developing a photograph, which is clear and realistic once it settles.  It’s more like creating an impressionistic painting.  Some aspects of the painting might be sharper or richer or clearer than others, but it is still “fuzzy” because human understanding is fuzzy (NOT because Truth is fuzzy; this is an important distinction).  No human being or institution possesses a clear understanding of all truth, nor can they ever.
  • Truth Produces Good Fruits. Truth is recognizable, because when applied, it always produces fruits of love, kindness, tolerance, respect, humility, virtue, justice, and peace.
  • The Spirit Is the Best Teacher of Truth. The Spirit leads and teaches.  At times we misinterpret what the Spirit is saying — that’s part of being human.  Still, we catch our glimpses through the revelation of the Spirit, which speaks to our minds and hearts.

  • Glimpses of Truth Can Be Found Everywhere. Glimpses of truth are not limited to a single religion, philosophical viewpoint, or way of approaching the world.  Because God is in and through everything, we shouldn’t be surprised to find truth showing up everywhere we go.

  • Some Things Are Closer to Actual Truth, and Some Things Are Farther Away. Still, the fact remains that some ideas about truth are closer to reality and some are farther away.
  • Truth is More Relational than Abstract. Truth does not exist in a vacuum, but is revealed and experienced as it interacts with people, customs, societies, narratives, etc.  There is no way to express truth without relational context.
  • Experience Is a Better Teacher Than Theory. Along the same lines, spiritual truth is better experienced than studied.

  • It Is More Useful to Talk About Spiritual Truth in Terms of Descriptions, not Definitions. It is dangerous to “define” God in a way that boxes Him up with a neat little bow on top.  Expressions of truth that seek to describe experiences with and ways of understanding the Divine, as opposed to rigid or dogmatic definitions of Who and What truth is, are more useful.

  • Truth is Often Best Expressed through Story, Myth, Narrative, Symbol, Ritual, and Art. As opposed to logic charts and systematic theologies, this relational, experiential approach to truth is often best expressed through more interactive modes of communication that engage on multiple levels at once: art, music, ritual, story, etc.

About Katie L

A doubter by nature, a believer by grace.

Posted on December 28, 2009, in Personal, Thoughts on God and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. There are lot of good thoughts there. I think the last one on your list is one of the big reasons that Jesus often spoke in parables rather than more directly.

  2. Thanks, Eric. I agree with your point about parables. You can say so much more in a story or symbol than you can in a logical treatise.

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