New Truths

Whoever said we have to know something to believe it is true?

Try to read the aphorism aloud with a British accent and an emphasis on the word know. That is how I replay it in my mind when I recall how the late Wheaton College professor of philosophy Arthur Holmes said it in class. What he said has stuck with me all these years later. In a way, Holmes’s quip describes how we, who are not omniscient, experience belief.

What truth do we completely know, so that there is nothing more for us to know about it? Complete knowledge is the business of God. And we believe all truths through a lens of humility. If we believe God is all knowing and we are not, well then we must acknowledge there is always, as they say, more to the story.

Thus, it is best for us not to construct our views in such a way that learning a new truth would undermine our beliefs. In fact, we must force ourselves to consider believing truths we do not yet believe are true.

How we go about doing this is a dance. And I do not think I am advocating some kind of extreme relativism which supposes there are no truths at all or that humans have no access to what truths exist. I am only saying people can be wrong and error can be partial so that a new truth should not have to undermine belief. Let me say it this way. We ought to build a system of belief so that it does not collapse when we continue to build upon it, not only with the same materials we have been using but also with new materials.