An Epistemology of Peace

Incompleteness is not a temporary human state while we engage in figuring out how to do theology and ethics; incompleteness is the human condition. That is why it does not matter where we begin or what language we use, provided we do not exclude other languages, but it does matter whom we listen to and whether we are able to learn to walk the word….

The Christian gospel is replete with imagery of being on the way, or being the truth and the light, or of seeing through a glass dimly. These metaphors are hard to grasp and even harder to embrace on the basis of either the Constantinian or the modern enslavement to an epistemology of mastery and control – as are the admonitions to sell what we have and give it to the poor, or to turn the other cheek, or to not resist evil. But this does not mean that they do not make sense or cannot be lived. Yet in order to do so, one must give up the very way of seeing to which one is accustomed. The gospel message is best grasped by an epistemology of peace because its content is a way of peace. Learning and coming to know Christ is a journey that begins with openness to God and that ends with openness to God. In between it is best lived doxologically….

Yoder sees discipleship as rooted in both gift and patience, and as understood not through analysis of the mind but by becoming skilled in following another person. This approach is also a ‘coming to know,’ by the revelation of one life to another life. In imitating One who himself imitates the Truth, we can come to know the Truth. Hence, knowing the truth is less a product of careful intellectual analysis or certainty, accrued from satisfaction that an indubitable method has been followed, than it is a matter of learning to see the world differently in ways that can only happen we we walk in the shoes of another. To say it differently, the Christian life is not first of all about whether a particular approach or language or metaphor can do it justice; rather it is about how we can become the kind of people who are able to be contemporary disciples of an ancient lord. And for that a variety of images are required. – Echoes of the Word, 128-129

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