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Matthew 16:13-19

posted Dec 7, 2012, 11:47 AM by David Gerhart   [ updated Dec 7, 2012, 12:56 PM ]
There are times when I "feel" secure in my walk.  There are also times when I'm full of doubt; confidence has fled.

In most cases, doubts are mind-games I indulge and are the result of compromising behavior -- repentance puts me back on the "high road."

The wonder of it all is that I have any "sense" of the truth at all.  When Jesus asked his disciples "Whom do they say I am" ... the fellows recited a list of hypothesis they were hearing from the world around them.  When the question was posed to them directly, it was Peter who mustered his faith:

"And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  Mt. 16:13-19

Before I came to Jesus ... the only equipment I had for deciding "what to do or say" existed in Isolation.  All I had was me, and the modes I knew were reciprocal.
  1. decide for myself (usually out of precocious selfishness) 
  2. let someone else decide (follow the leader, sometimes mindlessly abdicating my responsibility to think)
  • 1 is a reciprocal of 2 because I only knew what I was shown, or I was completely self-oriented.  Altruism exists as a means to some self-serving purpose.
  • 2 is a reciprocal of 1 because following somebody who "knows" is easier than figuring it out on my own (laziness is self-orientation manifest in inactivity.)
If you've read thus far, you no-doubt agree:

"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates [Σωκράτης] (c.470 BC - 399 BC)

How can we know anything at all?  Since we live in the world, it is external to us.  Senses interpret the world for us.  Something is "hot", or "smells bad" or is "ugly" ... one notices the reciprocal infinitive of relativism and how it's derivation leads inexorably to an agnostic final result.  Natural thinking leads to self-oriented confinement:

"...it is what it is to me."

Even intellectual artifacts are self-created.  We know that 1+1=2 because of rules we were taught.  And later we can question even the existence of this knowledge.

"What is more, since I sometimes believe that others go astray in cases where they think they have the most perfect knowledge, may I not similarly go wrong every time I add two and three or count the sides of a square, or in some even simpler matter, if that is imaginable? (Cottingham, et al., 1984:14)"

So how did Peter "know" his answer?  Jesus quantifies the influx of conviction as having come to him supernaturally.

What's that all about!!  Can looking deeper  "inside ourselves" lead to actual wisdom?  (Eastern Religions are famously introspective and experientially oriented in this way... claiming deep teaching comes though meditation, astral travel and by conversation with ephemeral "spirit guides."  See those reciprocal rules above.

How do we punch a hole in the dark airless bag of self?  Is there a stream of real wisdom, a pure truth that we can tap?

What's in the gap between what I know in myself and the perfect absolute knowledge that is "out there?'

It's been rigorously shown by many -- self-examination leads ultimately to self-doubt.

Real truth then, knowledge which actually exists -- is outside ourselves can only be revealed to us.  This may seem to violate #2 above.   In the absence of a self to form opinions or accept those of others, what exists?

"There is a state of complete absence, and there is also absence of the awareness of absence. There is no one and nothing there. And there is nobody there to be aware that there’s nobody and there’s nothing – complete absence of consciousness. That is the most awakened state." (Diamond Heart Book 4, pg 127)  Website link

Seriously?  Awake in nothingness?  Jean-Paul Sartre in his Existential tome "Being and nothingness" feasts deeply on that malarky.   What's it mean: to be unconscious of nothingness?  Profound contradictions, even on the face.    Can we step back from the self-inflicted fallacy of intellectual delusion? 

"The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things." Alistair Begg.

What I want is a state of complete fullness!   Knowledge of belonging; otherness within a fellowship of others.