Thought Demands Acquiescence

Only when thinking becomes quite humble can it set its feet upon the way that leads to knowledge. The more profound a religion is, the more it realizes this fact – that what it knows through belief is little compared with what it does not know. The first active deed of thinking is resignation – acquiescence in what happens. Becoming free, inwardly, from what happens, we pass through the gate of resignation on the way to ethics.

[Albert Schweitzer, Reverence for Life, New York: Philosophical Library, 1965), 21f.]

7 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Quotations

7 responses to “Thought Demands Acquiescence

  1. The most ignorant people I have met are those who believe they know all the truth and those who disagree are wrong.

    The wisest people I know are those who, when told something that does not fit their paradigm, become very quiet. You can tell that they are reevaluating their beliefs. They are wondering if what they have been thinking is wrong.

  2. I campe by this quote yesterday and was intrigued by it. I agree with you; people that press their position without humility are quite ignorant.

    The fine line we walk as Christians is walking humbly with our God (Micah 6.8) and to do justice and love mercy. That is, it is hard for me to know how to speak the truth in love…Love is not wishy-washy and all embracing. It is doing what is best for our neighbor. What’s best for him is the truth. The hard part is communicating this humbly.

    May we all learn to pursue knowledge humbly…remembering that truth is revealed to us by God.

  3. Do you have any non negotiables then, or is everything always open to review? I have often applauded the humble type, but I can’t imagine Christianity without some non-negotiables. Like abortion, euthenasia, contraception etc. Where/when do you draw the line and decide that an issue is up for discussion?

  4. Good question! There are most certainly non-negotiables…the quote has to do with the pursuit of humility. 1) We must realize that we know far less that we know and 2) Anything we know is revealed to us. This is why I posted it. Regarding issues of grave importance, a friend and I were chatting about truth a week or so ago and he told me that if a man had a gun to your head you would not be acquiescent. You would be pleading and trying to rationalize with him not to pull the trigger. So it is with truth, we plead with people…and we do so with an attitude of humility.

    Too many people scrap humility because they think they are justified in talking down to people because they have the truth…my desire is that Christians would be humble pursuers of truth AND humble maintainers of truth.

  5. I guess what I mean is, if someone was trying to explain to you why he thinks the death penalty should be totally outlawed, and if you think the death penalty is sound, are you supposed to sit there and re-question the judgments that your conscience has already made, in the name of acquiescence?

  6. Thanks for the clarification. I don’t think that engaging ideas is a totally passive venture. You don’t just sit back and say, “Sure. That sounds good. If it works for you, then it works for me.” I think that is being false to any kind of real communication. The whole point of communicating is sharing your convictions about topics and hearing someone else. I don’t think you necessarily have to question all your conscience has been led to believe.

    HOWEVER, I think that simply because you have convictions that you know that you know to be true does not give one license to raise their voice and think of the next argument they are going to make in defense of their conviction. That is, in conversation we must listen and seek to understand the other person’s point of view – their culture, their upbringing, etc.

    As for someone who disagrees, the most practical step I can suggest for you is to primarily ask questions. Seek to understand in your questions. Avoid asking leading questions such as, “So you think that it is okay for a murderer to keep on murdering?” Or something to this effect. We would do a whole lot better to know that Truth will always prevail, if not now then on the Last Day. This is the confidence that we can have…as for convictions. May God grant us grace to understand and desire to understand.

  7. When a Christian asserts something as truth and (rightly) believes the contrary (or those who profess the contrary) to be wrong, he is doing so on authority. When I say that Christ is the only way to God and that all other ways are “wrong” or invalid, I am not claiming that I have proved this fact and have a monopoly on truth. I make this claim on authority–an authority no less than Jesus Christ (John 14:6). That is, I claim it and I believe it because Jesus said it. If there is any arrogance here it must be on the part of Christ for making such an assertion. If there is any humility to be demanded, it must be demanded of Christ.

    I use this example because it is very commonly cited today by non-Christians as a show or arrogance and narrow-mindedness on the part of Christians.

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