Truth and Authentic Humanity

It’s a public holiday today, so I managed to catch up with some reading – and since this issue of “truth” has been hovering my mind lately I thought reading Dr. Carver Yu’s paper “TRUTH AND AUTHENTIC HUMANITY” would be good for the siesta. I admit I fell asleep reading it not because it’s boring but because I was tired. After finishing the article then I decided to blog parts of it.

Here are some paragraphs that “glare” for attention:

“The human condition, the possibility and actuality of being human, is the heart of the Gospel. Theology has to be “anthropocentric” if it is to be truly theo-centric, for as God unfolds Himself to us, we see humanity at the heart and in the horizon of His unfolding. “The Word became flesh” as the heart of the Gospel points to the fact that, as intended by God, truth is to be unfolded and actualized in concrete human reality.

… Perhaps Christian theologians should take the power of critique more seriously, instead of submitting to the Enlightenment critique of the Christian faith passively, they should bring the spirit of critique all the way back to the critique itself, so that the ideology intrinsic to the Enlightenment as well as the inner contradictions there may be revealed. Perhaps, very often, theologians succumb all too easily to the onslaught of philosophical currents, and are not critical enough, not only of our own proclamation, but also of the ideologies in vogue which are presented as reason and truth over against the Gospel as truth. So theologians have a two-fold task: on the one hand they have to be critical of the ideologies of their time, and at the same time, they have to be constructive in bringing forth the spiritual resources from the Gospel for socio-cultural synthesis.

… Is it not the habit of the Western mind that whenever the question concerning truth arises it is almost exclusively the question concerning the epistemic status of truth, how truth may be identified theoretically as truth? Is it not true to say that, the question how truth may become concretized and realized as human reality rarely surfaces in philosophical discourses, which never really get beyond the questions concerning truth – values, truth-conditions or the plausibility of theories of truth? Is it not true that the question concerning the appropriation of truth or identification with truth is pushed into the realm of spiritual discipline, something distinct from knowledge, even theological knowledge? Is it not because of this that philosophy becomes a conceptual or language game, and becoming that, it has become irrelevant in addressing the question of the meaning or meaninglessness of human existence? Is it not true that, intimidated by philosophy and for fear of being marginalized, theology very often feels constrained to take the same approach to truth?

… It can also be revealed perhaps even more clearly in contrast to the ancient Chinese thought. The Chinese approached reality or truth with Ching (reverence) to Tao (Being). Ching is the intuitive confidence for the unity between Tao and human existence, and thus for the existence and infinite value of man as well as the cosmos. Tao was grasped in the immediacy of existence as well as the constant dialogue and communion between Tao and human being. Because of such confidence, philosophical energy was spent almost totally in the cultivation of authentic humanity through attentive following of the way of Tao, through harmonious intercourse within the communion of beings. For the ancient Chinese, to be a philosopher or to be wise is simply to be human. So Confucius would regard an illiterate peasant as a profound philosopher. Much intellectual energy was spent on “The Learning of Hsin-hsing (heart-nature)”. Here, Tao or Truth of Being is not to be grasped merely as an object of thought, for it is in the human person’s inner being or in the depth of his/her humanity can it be grasped and realized. That is, Tao or Being can only be grasped In Its very actualization or concretization in authentic human existence. A human person knows Tao or Being in his/her authentic acting out of what is natural to his/her Hsin-hsing. Thus cultivation of inwardness and transcendence is the true business of philosophy, …

… Have we not missed the most fundamental of human reality in our pursuit for truth? Have we not forgotten the way God chose to “proclaim” Himself, not through the overpowering manifestation of Himself as protesta absoluta, but through humiliation and suffering? Truth does not seem to be proclaimed by God Himself for exhibition of the Immensity of divine rationality, but that human beings may have life and have it abundantly. And so, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” It is in the humility and incomprehensibility of the Incarnation that “we have beheld His glory.”

“The Word became flesh” radically changed our perception of truth. Truth is truth concretized as true humanity in Jesus Christ, who is both the truth, the light and the way. As the light, it shines into the darkness of our heart; as the way, It points to and leads to authentic humanity. In Jesus Christ, truth is not an abstract representation of the Absolute, but authentic humanity in concrete reality, unfolded in a life which is life-for-others. Through Jesus Christ we do not come to know God as Pure Thought, but as a God who acts, who encounters human beings and engages them in His very acts. The actuality of God’s being is manifested in His acts, not as a sheer manifestation of what He is capable, but as manifestation of His freedom to love, His goodness in actualizing this freedom to love through self-limiting, self-giving acts culminating in the actuality of Jesus Christ. And all these are to become concrete human reality in us. Truth, following the principle of identity, is actuality becoming actuality itself. It is the actuality of authentic humanity in Christ becoming actuality in us. It is through our very act in our freedom to love that we become actual. In becoming so, we become the actuality of truth.

Such an understanding of truth is in no way anti-intellectual. It calls our attention to examine the way we place our intellectual energy and creativity. The exercise of our intellect is part and parcel of our realization of truth in us.

Is it therefore not the duty of theologians to develop theological structures for the cultivation of this life-for-others? If theology is to be a science, should it not be completely determined by the object of its “comprehension”, by the mode, scope and intent of God’s revelation as revealed in Jesus Christ? As we write our theological tomes, should we not at the same time ask, whether we are writing truth into the human person’s life. What exactly is this whole business of faith, if it is not meant for the transformation of our life?”

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