Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Particularity of Truth

To seek universality by emancipating truth from concrete historical particularity is like seeking divinity for Christ by emancipating Jesus from his humanity. It may be intellectually less difficult for you, it may clean up nicer, but it's not a worthy substitute for reality...no matter how "subjective" reality may be.

Because truth is so concrete, historical, and particular in nature, no one can truly qualify a universal truth nor, especially, a universal theology. Whose theology will indeed be the norm? Whites? Hispanics? Women? Men? Indeed, the body of Christ is made of all of these even in their concrete particularity. No theology can, nor should we want it to be, produced apart from concrete reality and so therefore it will always be an organic and ongoing conversation rather than a universal truth. But what tends to happen is white male theologians are seen as doing "general" theology while women do "feminist" theology, black theologians do black theology, Hispanics do Hispanic theology, etc. Everyone else is bound to their particularity except for the dominant (yet minority) group. The truth is that we are all bound to our particularity. And no theology should be seen as "alternative" to the "norm."

As intellectually difficult as this may be for those of us who prefer neat and tidy resolution, we wouldn't want it any other way because it is through this organic and ongoing conversation that we hear the voice of God and therein discover life that is truly life. God comes to us in bread and wine, justice and suffering, body and blood, not in abstractions and objectivity.

So let us accept one another and listen to one another. Let us not seek pure universality through exclusion, rather let us seek wholeness through concrete inclusion. Let us hear the voice of the marginalized not as an alternative to the "universal norm" but as a true reflection of the truest reality.

Reality is, after all, close to the ground...

2 comments:

Danny said...

You sound like Stanley

WES ELLIS said...

Grenz or Hauerwas? Either way, that's a big compliment. Thanks.