I went back to Secondary School this week. I had the privilege of visiting the World Religions class and answer questions about Christianity. Most were of the standard fair, "why do bad things happen to good people?", "how can Jesus be totally divine and human?", etc. All good questions but one stood out to me not as much for the question but the assumption behind it.
One of the students asked me, "if there were irrefutable proof that Jesus was not who he said or we say he is would your belief system change?" As a matter of course we discussed how there have been new claims and theories about Jesus for the past 2,000 years and how that none of these have stood the test of time. We dialogued about the global uniqueness of Jesus and from my perspective his supremacy in our culture. I noted to the class that I don’t expect that my beliefs about Jesus will change all that much.
But still the question bothered me because behind the question is an assumption that even if there were irrefutable evidence people of faith would choose to continue to believe what they want to believe rather than be open to change. The student’s assessment of religious people as close minded is bothersome even if in some cases correct.
I do not like being placed in the same group with many who refuse to entertain the possibility that they could be wrong. It has been my privilege to learn from the Christian philosopher Arthur Holmes who has taught me much about the nature of knowing as a follower of Jesus. Believing that God is transcendent gives me confidence that Truth comes from him and that because he is personal the possibility of knowing Truth exists. This gives me great hope. Likewise I understand that God in his wisdom has chosen to allow humanity to use the image gifts he has given to us in the discovery of Truth. This leads me to humility. I have hope that I can know Truth but I also embrace humility to know that my conclusions in the discovery of Truth are fallible not infallible like God.
I hope this means that my mind and heart are open to consider the validity of competing truth claims. I trust this means that I treat faith as much as an issue of the mind as the heart.