Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Religious Truth

What is truth? More specifically, what is religious truth?

In the post-Enlightenment Western tradition, truth amounts to a set of beliefs or assertions that correspond to objects in the world (Bertrand Russell). Hence, religious truth exists at a propositional level - it all revolves around what you espouse.

Yet, another option exists. For Plato, (religious) truth was better conceived as a way of life, a mode of existence, paideia – a maturation of the soul. This notion exists in many Eastern traditions as well. In Sikhism, for example, truth is a wine to be consumed and incorporated, a scented oil to be applied to one's bodily existence. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib reads: "My mind is imbued with the Lord's Love; it is dyed a deep crimson. Truth and charity are my white clothes" (16.14).

At the end of the nineteenth century, Rev. Edgar Buckingham writes in the Unitarian Review and Religious Magazine: "It may be too much to say that [truth] is never used in Scripture in the singular number, as expressive of intellectual conceptions or statement of external facts or conditions; but, in its more common and important uses, it seems to have much the same meaning as holiness or purity, which also can be spoken in the plural as holinesses or purities."

In this way, religious truth speaks to the multiple ways to live truth-fully. It's about cultivating a disposition, habituating a Dasein. Thus, we must ask ourselves: What are the ways in which I can sustain my quest for truth? On which channels, paths, inputs and journeys do I lean?

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