Monday, November 4, 2013

Reflection for the Week–November 4

People often say, “If I was born somewhere else, I would believe something else.” This implies that context is determinative for belief. While there is a degree of truth to this, it is a reductionistic subterfuge. Context does play a role in belief, but so do many other features of being in the world. Things are really much more complex, when it comes to belief. Surely, we in the West are more prone to illegitimate context transfer. That is, we desire to suspend belief because it might be different if we were in another context. This is a charade. To imagine that we were born somewhere else would mean to imagine that we are not who we are. We might attempt this, but we will never escape ourselves. Dealing with the matters of the context we are actually living in the midst of, therefore, will be the appropriate trajectory for coming to grips with legitimate belief.


carter said...

Greg: This is an issue with which I have been struggling. I believe that the grace of God transcends different religions. And yet there is so much in scripture (I am once again going through the prophets, both major and minor) about how Israel and then Judah were lost because they turned to innumerable "gods that are no-gods" and then suffered consequences from the initial collapse of community (i.e., the perversion of justice; ignoring the plight of widows, orphans and foreigners; prophets preaching only what the kings wanted to hear; priests capitalizing on their positions) to the eventual loss of the kingdom. I am in the throes of wondering if I am merely fooling myself.

Greg said...

Thanks. I wrestle with this too. There seem to be inevitable implications for turning away from the known God of scripture, but this might depend on the context of whether "known" is a real possibility. So many are not in a context to know, which of course is not the case for Israel, who started as polytheists and continued to struggle with this throughout history. The God people should have known better.

My aim here was to try to get Western readers to realize that they have to deal with their own contexts, instead of seeking to evade them by appeals to other contexts far from their own.