Trust Your Instincts? Good Luck. They Stink.

A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.[1]

Have you ever met the guy who refuses to either win or lose a debate? The conversation goes something like this, in my experience:

The sky is a shade of fuchsia (which also happens to be the shade of his sweater-vest)

No, no, I believe the sky is blue today.

That’s like, your opinion, bro.

No, I am positive that the sky is blue today.

Ok man, whatever. Agree to disagree, ya?


It would be my advice to let him have the last word here. I can speak from experience- past, present (and, I am afraid, future)- and say without reservation that the conversation has reached an end.

Fuchsia-man has triumphed once again.

You can bring out a color wheel, a crayon, an Encyclopedia Brittanica, a Weather Channel app and five friends to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the sky is indeed blue, but you will have lost all that time, effort and mental energy. Your fuchsia-clad friend has pulled out the old get-out-of-thinking card, which, I think with inflation has to be worth up over a hundred dollars by now (I mean, seriously, I dare you to bribe a cop with a card worth $50).

Do you see what has happened? Fuchsia-man has proved G.K. Chesterton right once again. In the name of modesty, our friend (and, let’s be honest, we’ve all been fuchsia-man from time to time) has abandoned hope that there is truth out there to be sought. We are content to keep asking the same stupid questions without seeking answers. We have become absolutely certain that we are the measure of all things. At the same time we have become absolutely convinced that there is nothing that can be known for certain.

Is this annoying and maddening to anybody else?

A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.[1]

Have you ever met the guy who refuses to either win or lose a debate? The conversation goes something like this, in my experience:

The sky is a shade of fuchsia (which also happens to be the shade of his sweater-vest)

No, no, I believe the sky is blue today.

That’s like, your opinion, bro.

No, I am positive that the sky is blue today.

Ok man, whatever. Agree to disagree, ya?

It would be my advice to let him have the last word here. I can speak from experience- past, present (and, I am afraid, future)- and say without reservation that the conversation has reached an end.

Fuchsia-man has triumphed once again.

You can bring out a color wheel, a crayon, an Encyclopedia Brittanica, a Weather Channel app and five friends to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the sky is indeed blue, but you will have lost all that time, effort and mental energy. Your fuchsia-clad friend has pulled out the old get-out-of-thinking card, which, I think with inflation has to be worth up over a hundred dollars by now (I mean, seriously, I dare you to bribe a cop with a card worth $50).

Do you see what has happened? Fuchsia-man has proved G.K. Chesterton right once again. In the name of modesty, our friend (and, let’s be honest, we’ve all been fuchsia-man from time to time) has abandoned hope that there is truth out there to be sought. We are content to keep asking the same stupid questions without seeking answers. We have become absolutely certain that we are the measure of all things. At the same time we have become absolutely convinced that there is nothing that can be known for certain.

Is this annoying and maddening to anybody else?

A Generation of Well-Adjusted Individuals

I grew up in rural Northern California, where the hippies migrated after they got tired of sleeping in Golden Gate Park. And I bet you already guessed what profession these “former” hippies took up when they got settled in. That’s right. They became teachers. Ok, maybe you guessed something else and you are offended now, but hang in there for another minute.

When I was a kid, these hippie teachers, in efforts to restore us to the image of Dylan, were pushing this brilliant new style of learning called “Outcome-Based Education.” The idea was to confirm the personhood of the child regardless of their performance. This sounds fantastic but what lies beneath the philosophy was more than a little relativistic. Actually, it was pretty awesome.

Casey, what is the square root of twenty?

I think Jimi would say twelve.

Woah, cool perspective, young philosoph. I dig.

My generation was brought up to be absolutely certain about our selves. At the same time we were encouraged to question reality. We heard the message loud and clear. Be certain of your self and doubtful about everything else.

We have started at the wrong place if we want to confirm our personhood. Man, it seems, has finally become the measure of all things. It would be arrogant in our time to claim that there are real questions to the answers of life. Real questions have a way of excluding people. If Muslims are right about the way things are then it would seem the rest of us are wrong. If Mohammed was right that Ishmael was the promised son of Abraham, that would necessarily mean we are wrong, as Christians in believing Isaac was the chosen one. On the other hand, if Jesus was right, and he was the only way to the Father, this would necessarily mean that any “God-seeking” that does not go through Jesus alone is not only misguided but so much more importantly, wrong.

What is 2+2? Good Question.

And if you think that is an uncomfortable conversation, perhaps an example from my personal nemesis “math” will up the ante. Chesterton pointed out that our unwillingness to take a position on the things of life produces such an uncertainty that we cannot say with any degree of authority that two and two is four. We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.[2] Can you imagine a world so absurd that the aforementioned burned-out hippie teacher cannot actually be corrected?

Believe it or not we have no need to imagine such a silly world anymore. We live in it. We have only one rule to abide by, and that is that we cannot impose any rules upon our neighbors. Now that sounds fair enough, right? Who wants other people telling them what to do, what to think, what is real and what is good? Nobody wants the thought-police knocking on their door. We want to think for ourselves and we will not take kindly to being corrected. At the end of the day, we will all be happy if we, like fuchsia-vest-man, can live in our world where nobody is wrong with the exception of those jerks who think they are right.

If we say all of this another way, what we want is to hold exclusive claim to being right. We are so certain of ourselves that we have come to believe that truth is an illusion. Our false humility has become the type of pride that would disagree with God himself if he came down and told us how things really were.

But we are not the first generation to fall so far down this pit. In fact, God did come down and tell us how things really were, but we have spent the last two thousand years trying to decide if his version of the truth could really be more true than our rendering.

The Humility that Fosters Fear

Is it any wonder then, that we are terrified of our shadows? We have over-stepped our bounds and stood in the place of God. We have made ourselves the standard of goodness, beauty, uprightness, morality, love and justice and what a tragedy we have created.

Humility does not mean disputing the plainly obvious. It means taking our own place in this thing God is doing with the world. We were not made to decide who we are or who we should be, God has been much more gracious. He has given us a perfect picture of humanity and in doing so he has fixed what we have broken, namely, ourselves. Only when we trust Jesus will we be freed from the slavery of our own version of the truth.

Only when we become certain of our weakness can we start trusting his strength for us.


[1] Orthodoxy, p. 27.

[2] O, p. 28.

I grew up in rural Northern California, where the hippies migrated after they got tired of sleeping in Golden Gate Park. And I bet you already guessed what profession these “former” hippies took up when they got settled in. That’s right. They became teachers. Ok, maybe you guessed something else and you are offended now, but hang in there for another minute.

I grew up in rural Northern California, where the hippies migrated after they got tired of sleeping in Golden Gate Park. And I bet you already guessed what profession these “former” hippies took up when they got settled in. That’s right. They became teachers. Ok, maybe you guessed something else and you are offended now, but hang in there for another minute.

When I was a kid, these hippie teachers, in efforts to restore us to the image of Dylan, were pushing this brilliant new style of learning called “Outcome-Based Education.” The idea was to confirm the personhood of the child regardless of their performance. This sounds fantastic but what lies beneath the philosophy was more than a little relativistic. Actually, it was pretty awesome.

Casey, what is the square root of twenty?

I think Jimi would say twelve

Woah, cool perspective, young philosoph. I dig.

My generation was brought up to be absolutely certain about our selves. At the same time we were encouraged to question reality. We heard the message loud and clear. Be certain of your self and doubtful about everything else.

We have started at the wrong place if we want to confirm our personhood. Man, it seems, has finally become the measure of all things. It would be arrogant for in our time to claim that there are real questions to the answers of life. Real questions have a way of excluding people. If Muslims are right about the way things are then it would seem the rest of us are wrong. If Mohammed was right that Ishmael was the promised son of Abraham, that would necessarily mean we are wrong, as Christians in believing Isaac was the chosen one. On the other hand, if Jesus was right, and he was the only way to the Father, this would necessarily mean that any “God-seeking” that does not go through Jesus alone is not only misguided but so much more importantly, wrong.

And if you think that is an uncomfortable conversation, perhaps an example from my personal nemesis “math” will up the ante. Chesterton pointed out that our unwillingness to take a position on the things of life produces such an uncertainty that we cannot say with any degree of authority that two and two is four. We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.[2] Can you imagine a world so absurd that the aforementioned burned-out hippie teacher cannot actually be corrected?

Believe it or not we have no need to imagine such a silly world anymore. We live in it. We have only one rule to abide by, and that is that we cannot impose any rules upon our neighbors. Now that sounds fair enough, right? Who wants other people telling them what to do, what to think, what is real and what is good? Nobody wants the thought-police knocking on their door. We want to think for ourselves and we will not take kindly to being corrected. At the end of the day, we will all be happy if we, like fuchsia-vest-man, can live in our world where nobody is wrong with the exception of those jerks who think they are right.

If we say all of this another way, what we want is to hold exclusive claim to being right. We are so certain of ourselves that we have come to believe that truth is an illusion. Our false humility has become the type of pride that would disagree with God himself if he came down and told us how things really were.

But we are not the first generation to fall so far down this pit. In fact, God did come down and tell us how things really were, but we have spent the last two thousand years trying to decide if his version of the truth could really be more true than our rendering.

Is it any wonder then, that we are terrified of our shadows? We have over-stepped our bounds and stood in the place of God. We have made ourselves the standard of goodness, beauty, uprightness, morality, love and justice and what a tragedy we have created.

Humility does not mean disputing the plainly obvious. It means taking our own place in this thing God is doing with the world. We were not made to decide who we are or who we should be, God has been much more gracious. He has given us a perfect picture of humanity and in doing so he has fixed what we have broken, namely, ourselves. Only when we trust Jesus will we be freed from the slavery of our own version of the truth.

Only when we become certain of our weakness can we start trusting his strength for us.


[1] Orthodoxy, p. 27.

[2] O, p. 28.

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