The Elephant in the Room
A thoughtful reader named Greg responded to a recent column and provided an elegant encapsulation of modern American secular narrative.
In “The Rocket, the Republic, and Romans 13” (July 10), I went on about faith and how God’s truth and justice is superior to man’s or government’s or the U.S. Supreme Court’s truth and justice. This column’s customary italic epigram stated that “God’s truth and justice is the American way,” and that “we are losing our way.”
Greg, in erudite disagreement, wrote “it’s the person whose bias is that his/her own god(s)’s truth and justice is the American way who has lost his/her own way.” So, that would be me. Greg argues for the “aggregate ways of individual Americans,” a “consensual social contract,” that knowledge is “justified belief,” that truth is merely “human sensory witness” and that faith is a theocratic “presumed socio-political prerogative.” In other words truth, likeAmerica, is a collection of secular parts.
It was a great email, eloquently stated. It intended to obviate God’s place in the “American Way” conversation, which secularAmericais desperate to do. I thanked Greg and asked what he considered to be “truth,” and whether or not “hope” was a proper aim of democracy. I loved Greg’s response.
Greg related the oft-cited “Elephant story,” where four blindfolded people – a father and three sons – touch a different part of an elephant and think it is four different things. Since the father touched the trunk and thought it was a snake, he forced his will on the sons who thought they had touched a bird (ear), a tree (leg), and a rope (tail). Dad had the power … dad said it was a snake … so, it was – incorrectly – a snake.
Greg’s point is that truth and faith are matters of opinion depending upon which part of the elephant we touch. And “power” should never determine whether “truth” is a snake, ear, tree, or whatever: you cannot force truth … or faith, belief, or love, for that matter. But the “snake” conclusion is a perfect, multi-entendre picture of secularized philosophy, academia, politics, culture, and justice getting it completely wrong.
The family grasped the parts, but missed the elephant. Truth is a whole thing that a real God presented to a fallen world in the real person of Jesus Christ. And while an elephant is big, God is bigger. I want American ideals and my faith to be bigger and stronger than any part of an elephant; not as small and weak as manmade truth.
To perpetuate that bigness, God’s truth -not man’s opinion- is our greatest hope.