If God is truth itself in some intelligible way, as we Catholics believe, then a deceitful God is a logical impossibility. We can therefore be certain that, if God has spoken, then what God has said is no lie. We can be certain if we have heard God and heard God correctly, then what God has said is unequivocally true. I highlight this word if because it is precisely this question of whether or not we have heard God or heard God correctly that we cannot answer with anything closely approaching certainty. Logically, God cannot deceive us, but our eyes and ears surely can. Even consciousness—our fundamental access to the world and its meaning—can lead us astray, delude us, and otherwise play us falsely. (Kyle Cupp, Living by Faith, Dwelling in Doubt, p. 67)
When I (Vinita) look back at my early years of Christian faith and remember what that particular community presented to me as certainly from God, it makes me shudder. So much of what fuels a fundamentalist mindset is fear—fear of being wrong, of making God angry, of not doing whatever it takes to be in God’s family rather than excluded from it. Years away from that place and time, I was able to shift my perception of spirituality. My consciousness was transformed when I realized that fear was not a healthy way to go—and in fact Jesus said many times, “Fear not.” At that point I realized that it was more important to trust Divine love and grace than it was to learn exactly what I must think and believe.
A few questions on this topic:
- When is a person most likely to put high importance on certainty?
- When does a refusal to be certain become justification for saying everything is relative?
- How does a person guard against the fallibility of the human mind and senses to become confused about what is true and false?