Knowing: Shaking Up a Familiar Life Route

The Four Elements of Effective Communication

 

This post has been excerpted from Living In Truth: Confident Conversation in a Conflicted Culture, Lifeway Christian Resources.

“‘This—is now MY way,—where is yours?’ Thus did I answer those who asked me ‘the way’. For THE way—it doth not exist!”
                                    –Friederich Nietzsche
                                   Thus Spake Zarathustra, Third Part, Chapter LV.
                                   “Of the Spirit of Gravity”. Trans. Thomas Common.

Friederich Nietzsche, an atheist philosopher, remarked that there is no “way” to go in this life. Every one of us creates their own way and lives their life in accordance with whatever it is they believe. His statement is more familiar to us today in the form of “Whatever you believe is true for you, and whatever I believe is true for me. So don’t shove your religious morals/ideas/truth on me!” Ultimately, this view destroys the basic ideas that: 1) there is any truth to be found, and 2) finding truth actually matters. Further, Nietzsche’s view is ultimately unlivable, because we run smack dab into truth every day of our lives.

The late Christian philosopher, Dallas Willard, said, “Reality is what we run into when we are wrong.” Though sometimes I try to create my own way, I can assure you that I regularly “run into” reality.

Knowing

Think of how truth affects your daily life; specifically think of a time when you found out you were wrong on a matter.

What was it that was wrong?

Did you have to adjust your thinking? Why or why not?

What was the consequence of the wrong thinking?

Back when I still drove a truck, I was going along a familiar route to work when out of the blue, I hit the curb. One of the tires squealed as it grated against the side of the curb. The jolt and noise of the impact shook me out of ‘autopilot’ making me pay more close attention.  Apparently, though, this first hit didn’t focus my thought enough to keep me out of trouble very long. Later in the day, I was again driving a very familiar route and drove right into a piece of curb protruding from a construction zone: up, over, and back down again. This time, the entire vehicle was shaken. I was shaken. Now I had a healthy fear of my inattentiveness to my surroundings.  I was on guard.

Everyday we come into contact with people who are “going along a familiar route” or, as Nietzsche described, going their own “way.” They are not necessarily paying attention to how they know what they know or to whether or not their beliefs are true. Rather, they may allow the cultural views of truth to lull them into a familiar daily route. When you engage in conversation about God, you are essentially acting as the curb they just ran into!

Name one reaction people usually give when they are shaken by something like hitting a curb.

What are some of the various reactions you have received when talking to people about God (Christian or not a Christian)?

Why do you think they reacted this way (if you could see what was going on in their mind)?

When a person has accepted that there is no truth in religious beliefs, they may also believe that it’s inappropriate to discuss belief in God in public.[1] It’s like discussing your dirty laundry at a ladies tea, or trotting out marital problems at your cousin’s wedding. So when you begin to share your belief in God as something that is not only real, but is also something that actually matters in everyday life, you may give a person quite a shock. If a person has believed that there is no God (or that Jesus is not God), and has lived accordingly, it is quite jarring to be told that they may be wrong.

Therefore, one of our goals in conversation about belief in God, is to demonstrate the importance of truth within the Christian faith. Our belief must ultimately be grounded in truth or else it is of no consequence.


[1] For further reading to substantiate this claim: Nancy Pearcey’s “Total Truth,” and Greg Koukl’s “Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air”