Into the World--Prologue and Abstract


Upon hearing me explain that I decided not to go to seminary because I had too many unresolved questions a pastor friend recently replied, "I was too smart to get tangled up with those questions." We let the foot-in-mouth remark pass, as was appropriate in friendly conversation. Yet it illustrates an all too common assumption that this series of posts on Richard's blog seeks to challenge and set right: that faith and skepticism are antonyms.

It is my hope to confront Christian anti-intellectualism by illustrating that skepticism at its greatest depth can lead to an understanding of faith at its greatest height. In fact, I see the relationship between the two as like the relationship of a mountain to its accompanying lowlands, without which the mountain would not be. Accordingly, I have placed the most trenchant criticism of Christian faith that I know of at the beginning of these posts: Nietzsche's comment on the exchange between Jesus and Pilate in The Gospel According to John--the exchange which led to the question, "What is truth?"


Concerning Pilate's famous question, "What is truth?" Scripture is silent throughout on a philosophical level. That categorical silence seems scandalous, since Jesus' metaphysical claim to have come "into the world to testify to the truth" prompted the question. Analysis of the full biblical context, however, reveals the opposite: The passion story does protray an answer to Pilate's question, as well as to what William James called "the radical question of life." Chapters one through seven focus primarily on the biblical context; chapters eight through thirteen provide a conceptual context to frame the biblical.

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