Monday, February 11, 2008

Humility (and a quote)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I am teaching a class on Sunday morning at our church. It has been interesting, thus far. If anything, the class has grown slightly over the last six weeks, leaving me amazed that anyone would voluntarily stay in a class I teach that long.

This last Sunday the subject was humility. One of the points I raised was the subtle difference between seeking to learn humility in our lives and being forced to learn humility through our arrogance. I also questioned them on Moses, the most humble man on earth at the time, and how a person of humility could be a good leader.

I shared this quote, from G.K. Chesterton, and I'll leave you with it:

What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.
What do you think of Chesterton's thought's on humility misplaced?

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Anne said...

I believe Chesterton's quote, if I understand him correctly, is on the mark.

We live among a culture of poeple who are taught to never doubt themselves - as if everything they think, feel and understand is correct.

Yet, these very people continually doubt God and His unchanging, perfect Word - the only Truth upon which we can rely.

Douglas said...

I agree. Today it is said that if you can conceive of it, you can do it and you can do anything you put your mind to. I'm all for trying one's best and having confidence in human determination that, Lord willing, we can accomplish our dreams. However, I often leave off that Lord willing part. Didn't James talk about that That's just a long way of saying that humility in our ambitions can be prideful.

On the other hand, there are things that we should be confident about. This would be revealed truth or convictions. One must be careful in this case to convince oneself that the Divine revelation in which one has confidence is legitimate. In this sense, it can be difficult to trust in Divine revelation, because it is always filtered through fallible humans. That is where faith comes in. Christians believe in Scripture because we believe God used fallible humans to communicate infallibly.

At the same time, I think Anne is only partly understanding where Chesterton is coming from. Chesterton also believed in extra-Biblical revelation. If fact, it may be unconscious, but so does Anne. Otherwise, she would not believe in the Bible. Scripture is a library more than a book. Scripture itself never lists the books that belong in that library, and there was debate on which books belonged in the NT library until nearly 400 AD. There is still debate today on certain OT books, with most Protestants removing books that were in all OTs for the first millenia and a half of Christianity. If someone has absolute trust that the Bible is God's Word, they by definition have absolute trust in extra-Biblical sources to determine for them which books belong in that library.

Being a Catholic (though a convert), Chesterton believed that the magisterium of the Catholic Church was a reliable source of conviction.


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