I have been thinking a lot about absolutes, or rather, thinking about how we claim we are right. Hearing this quote by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vadar’s mentor before he joined the Dark Side, was perfect timing.
A few definitions from the Free Dictionary for absolute:
Perfect in quality or nature; complete.
Not mixed; pure.
Not limited by restrictions or exceptions; unconditional: absolute trust.
Unconstrained by constitutional or other provisions: an absolute ruler.
Not to be doubted or questioned; positive: absolute proof.
Complete and unconditional; final.
Many Christians say that one or another description, action, Will, truth of God is absolute. That there are absolutes about God.
I readily agree that there are absolutes about God, but I can’t see how we can know them.
To claim to know absolute truths about God, to know absolutely – purely – without any influence from sin/evil/Satan/mortality/biological imperfection/environment/etc. – is very difficult for me to understand.
We are limited, imperfect beings – everything we know or experience related to God, even if perfectly imparted upon us at the beginning – is corrupted by our nature. It is a spiritual telephone game, even within ourselves.
We might be able to grasp God’s Absolute Truth for an infinitesimal instant, but to hold onto it would mean that we are perfect beings ourselves. We are imperfect vessels. There is nothing perfect about us – nothing that works perfectly or understand perfectly. As much as we can try, even our love is not perfect.
Our very nature results in the need to doubt, the need to leave even the tiniest space to understand that we could be wrong.
Even as I say this, I know that I could be wrong. Yet that is just it, there is no way I can claim that I have it all right.
I’m an imperfect vessel, grasping and yearning towards a God I will never fully understand, but will do my ultimate best to try.
I am unable to deal in absolutes.
My life, and the lives of everyone I have ever known, has been a journey. What we know to be true at one point is not necessary what we know to be true a year, month or hour later.
Even to claim that the Word as revealed in scripture is absolute, opens us to the danger of basing everything on one interpretation – and how can we know that that interpretation is right? Because someone we admire says it is? Is that not idolatry?
So, how can I claim to be a Christian?
Because I feel God’s love and presence. Because I have used my free-will to choose to follow the Word as revealed in Christ. Because I have tasted what it is to live without God’s Love, and I refuse to live that way. Because I celebrate that because of and despite that I am imperfect and limited, God Loves me.
Gracious Lord, help us look towards You and not the idol of absolute knowledge. Amen.