June 28, 2005 Posted by Amy Hall
Last week, the comments took an unexpected turn, and we discussed the need for strong convictions in the church here and here. In this postmodern culture, it is thought that we can never know reality as it truly is because we’re trapped inside our own narrow perspective and language. Since right and wrong are only what we create them to be, every person’s perspective is equally valid. Therefore, to say that I am right and someone else is wrong is to make a meaningless statement at best and an oppressive power play at worst. It is best, then, (our culture tells us) to not believe too strongly in anything (especially in any religion) since the greatest danger to the world lies with those deluded people who think they know the truth and think others are wrong. But if the culture is wrong and there is objective truth and goodness, then the greatest danger will come from not having strong convictions about truth.
When I finally gave in and saw Revenge of the Sith last weekend, I was struck by how well Anakin’s fall illustrates the danger of not having solid answers. In the crucial moment of Anakin’s turning, he is caught between a Jedi and a Sith. Each is trying to convince Anakin that he is in the right. Unfortunately, Anakin is confused–he had not become convinced of the truth before this moment of testing. Without strong convictions based on knowledge about what is true, he has only his emotions to guide him, and of course, emotions are easily manipulated.
Obi-Wan recognizes that his apprentice is lost when Anakin says that, contrary to Obi-Wan’s perspective, from his point of view the Jedi are evil. Obi-Wan knows that postmodernism is wrong–there is a correct point of view; and, like Anakin, if we don’t work hard to understand what that correct view is so that we are certain enough to stand solidly on that truth despite the personal cost, we also will be directed by our own self-interested desires and feelings and be easily manipulated by those who are not seeking truth and goodness. We’ll be lost.
Instead, we must seek the strength of answers. We must “be transformed by the renewing of [our minds], so that [we] may prove what the will of God is” (Romans 12:2). We are to increase our knowledge–and our confidence in that knowledge–so that “we are no longer…tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:11-14). We must do this, because those who do not have strong convictions become the pawns of those who do.