How a Philosophy Class Stimulated My Growth in the Real Hope
The Challenge to Trust and Hope
When you buy a bottle of aspirin today, you will find that there is a seal covering the opening. This is a safety measure against contamination. If you buy a bottle with a broken seal, this means that the contents could be defiled and dangerous. Why do these bottles have such seals?
When I was a kid, there was a scandal concerning Tylenol, in which some disturbed employee working on the assembly line randomly poisoned the product so that several of the pills became contaminated with the poison. Unfortunately, many unsuspecting consumers died as a result of taking the poisoned pills.
As can be imagined, this caused quite a commotion in the country that expanded to many aspects of the US economy. Many began to question the reliability and trustworthiness of many consumer products, especially other OTC medications. Fear became rampant.
Fear, disillusionment, and cynicism naturally result when hope and trust diminish.
Real Hope Is Rooted in Growing in Truth
Not only does our whole economy function on the basis of trust and hope, but all relationships function well only when there is foundational trust and hope for the future well-being of the relationship. Can you imagine a joyful, honoring marriage when there is no trust or hope in the viability of the relationship?
One does not need to look far to find cynicism and a lack of trust and hope in many corners of our American culture. Today, there is great cynicism toward many of our institutions, both civil and ecclesiastical. Through reading and/or hearing news reports, one hears many examples of despair toward the viability and stability of our nation.
So, where can we find the kind of hope that actually gives us strength, assurance, and security? Is there a rock on which we can stand that will not move? Is there an anchor that can enable us to stand against the many winds of unhealthy ideas that can easily darken our minds and souls?
Even as a young man in college, I quickly understood and discerned that I needed to hinge my beliefs, my very life, upon something or Someone that was eternally stable. I quickly saw that I needed to base my philosophy of life upon truth that was transcendent and eternal. How did I come to see this reality?
I was especially challenged to think this way in a freshman Philosophy class in college. The professor, while a likable man, challenged many of the thoughts and ideas that I held as dear. He spent much time questioning the existence of God and whether or not we could truly understand or comprehend anything that was related to objective truth.
Objective truth basically means that even if no one believed in it, it would still be true. The Holy Bible contains within it the putting forth of testimonies to that which is objectively true. Its claims for objective truth flow from the eternal God and the person of Jesus Christ who said of himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” So, even if one does not believe in or give credence to biblical truth, the claims of transcendent, objective, eternal truth are not in the least diminished. However, as a young man, I was being challenged and stretched to understand more deeply what I believed and why I believed it.
I was in the midst of what I did not know at the time was a joyful, meaningful struggle. I even talked to the professor about my angst and concerns. He told me, very respectfully, that if I stayed in his class and worked through thinking about the concepts he was teaching, I might even find my faith being strengthened rather than weakened. So, I persevered.
Upon What Are You Basing Your Hope?
I remember, during one class discussion, telling the professor that all he had been doing was questioning everything without supplying answers. I asked him, “Why should I base my life on thoughts and insights of very fallible men and women who have to have erasers for their pencils and who tend to lock their keys in their cars?” I even found that all of the sophisticated and highly academic arguments that he gave had as much effect on my faith as using a butter knife to take down the pyramids of Egypt.
I began to see in new and fresh ways that truth that flows from the One who is The Truth not only could sustain my life, but it also led me to very wonderful light for understanding many things that could seem to be hidden in the dark. Truly, in God’s light, I began to see light more clearly. I saw how the application of this truth not only satisfies deep, intellectual curiosity, but it also supplies truth that changes hearts and relationships and adds a beauty and value to any endeavor I might undertake. I also saw how this truth travels really well into any sphere of inquiry imaginable. I found myself experiencing a greater present and future hope for my life, the world, and others around me.
Much of what I heard in my philosophy class seemed to try to promote WISHFUL thinking as hope. What I found was a huge ANCHOR that did not simply create wishful thinking. No, it was something as huge as the biggest rock or mountain one could imagine. In fact, I found a bedrock of truth that was immovable.
I realize that such statements as I just made will be met with much skepticism. I know of others who have made similar statements as mine and have been labeled as being “close-minded” and even as “criminal” for believing such things. There is a great sense of the loss of a sense of truth in our American culture. This is seen in academics, politics, business, and even religion.
In this blog series “Hope That Sustains,” I will be talking about this hope that sustains in many facets. However, in this first blog post I just want to ask the question, “How are we doing in the midst of all of this cynicism, self-focus, and anti-supernatural mindset?” What is the impact of this line of thinking and living? After all, ideas have consequences!
In what are you hoping? Is this hope big enough to enable you to stand against the winds of life challenges, grief, and suffering? Where do you find comfort that actually brings stability, even in the midst of struggle and pain?