Right vs Wrong

Posted: August 9, 2005 in Everything

Much is always being made about who (or what idea) is right and who (or what idea) is wrong. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, people love being right because it makes us feel superior or righteous. It seems to me that this is very true in the Christian community. True, we have a lot riding on right and wrong and we should, but I hope these words from Donald Miller’s “Searching For God Knows What” might help us have some epistlemological humility. Perhaps a little humility might lead us to love people first and argue philosophies later!

“If you think about it, right and wrong aren’t even people, they are ideas, philosophical equations and that sort of thing, and so it is funny that anybody would think they are right in the first place. I suppose what we really mean when we say we are right is that something out there in the soup of ideas is right, and we simply agree with whatever it is the soup is saying. But this doesn’t have anything to do with our rightness or wrongness; it just means we can read.”

Interesting thought. What do you think?

  1. Brendo says:

    “it just means we can read.”


    What a beautiful sentiment. I love the idea that people can not be “right” or “wrong”, but can only ascribe themselves to ideas they associate with Truth. I think there is something essentially humbling here. But I also think this quickly becomes a semantic argument which quickly undermines our ability to use language to express ourselves. I have noticed your distrust (is that the right word?) of expression in the past (there was the post about celebrities using their bully pulpit to forward their opinions). And you regularly entreat people to go inside themselves, reflect, and quietly allow an emanation of the will of God. I guess one cannot ask for that too often. (The point can also be made that any deep understanding of the world around us can be paralyzing, leaving the jaw hanging limp). But is that what we’re here for? While it would be sorta nice to have a moment’s rest from the various conflicts that come with living, I think we’re here to put our fists up and join the fray. Whether that means being offensive in staking out territory (psychological, spiritual or physical) or defensively trying to stay your ground, life without conflict is no life at all. Not even “dead” rocks are blessed with a quiet immortality. Like a boxer going to the neutral corner, going inside to reflect and face your God is a means to come back into the tumult with the direction and confidence to get through the next round. The face of God may be sublime in quiet beauty, but the face of Life is much more frantic. We function noisily and we clumsily grasp to the coattails of elusive Truth, begging for moments of insight to Right and Wrong. That’s as much as we are capable, and that’s who we are. Asking people to turn away from the imperfect world, to deny themselves the fight, to be silent until they have The Answer (or worse, to not ask the questions) won’t yield a better world. God has taken care that there can not be a better world. The perfection of the Fall was total. We are here to fumble – to do what God may not. As Golda Meir put it to a visiting diplomat; “Don’t be so humble–you are not that great.”

  2. CL says:

    I love Don Miller’s sentiment, he is “right.” I have never quite understood why it was so important for me to have exactly the right answer anyway. I guess has a lot to do with what I was taught as a child growing up in the coc. Anyway, great post.

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