A couple of the conversations over the last little while around faith and truth and discernment have got me thinking. It has made me realise that I operate out of what I will call a hermeneutic of uncertainty. (For the non-theologically trained a hermeneutic is an interpretive lens).
I use the word ‘uncertainty’ here in way that is loosely analogous manner to the way it is used in science. So uncertainty is not a synonym for doubt. It is simply an acknowledgement of limitations of system. Within the frame of human consciousness I don’t this we can be sure about what is truth. The best we can ever do is to refine the probability of being in the zone of truth.
I think there is wisdom in the traditions which have been handed down. As a church goer and Roman Catholic, I do think that there is a lot in the tradition which points us in the right direction. But I cannot cast that in any absolute way.
My trust is in my relationship with God even though I am fairly certain that the image I have of God is still a crude approximation of who God really is. I know my discernment needs a healthy dollop of what William Barry SJ once called a hermeneutic of suspicion. And so I subject my judgement to scrutiny by my spiritual director and a few people very close to me. I know I am going to get this wrong from time to time, but I know God will be with me all the way. I know God will throw in opportunities to rethink poor trajectories – I’ve had to correct my course sufficiently often to trust this. And I know that my image of God will be refined from time to time.
I realise how thoroughly I have been shaped by my ministry of spiritual direction. For more than 15 years I’ve been polishing these two lenses. I think they have served me very well. It is hard for me now to see how viewing my world in any other way would be desirable.