johnboy.philothea http://johnboy.philothea.net/ Posted 29 January 2012 01:25 AM Hide Post One curious thing about epistemology, in general, religious epistemology, in particular, seems to be that, however incompetent people may often seem to be in accounting for exactly how they have managed to realize this or that value, they somehow manage to realize many values anyway! This is to say, for example, that they often have true beliefs even though they cannot properly justify them. As valuerealizers, people are often unconsciously competent even while, as apologists, they are often manifestly incompetent. This is because, especially when it comes to religion, many of the values that we humans realize derive from our practices and our participatory imaginations (hometown knowledge) and not necessarily from our conceptual map-making. Formatively speaking, belonging thus often will have preceded desires which will have preceded behaviors which will only then have been followed by beliefs. And it will have been a constellation of practices, including worship forms and other formative and transformative influences, that will have shaped those existential orientations that we eventually interpret as appropriate responses to divine initiatives and imperatives. This is all to suggest that many people are praying well and behaving well, living out their relationships to others and God, even if they cannot provide an articulate apologetic for same and even when they inartfully account for same. I think this is exactly why we may not witness quite as many dire practical consequences as we might otherwise predict would result from this or that theological error. In other words, we are truly immersed in wisdom traditions, which combine mostly common sense and love, and not really in theological systems, which traffic mostly in logical argumentation. Our beliefs are much more existential responses of the whole person, a living as if we are loved beyond measure and much less propositional statements. Faith entails a living knowledge OF persons in relationship much more than a knowledge ABOUT. While the propositional, conceptual mapmaking and knowledge ABOUT does have a place, formatively, it does not enjoy the primacy it has too often been accorded. We can thus exaggerate the significance of getting every theological proposition correct, whether for the life of prayer or for fellowship in community. We can relax, be more patient, less hypercritical of others, more self-critical and not fall into the role of theological Chicken Littles it seems.