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Lessing Said it Better than I

“The accidental truths of history can never become the proof of necessary truths of reason… I gladly and heartily believe that Christ (against whose resurrection I can raise no significant historical objection) declared himself to be the Son of God, and that his disciples believed him in this matter.  For these truths, which are truths of one and the same class, follow naturally on from each other.  But to move on from that historical truth to a totally different class of truth, and to ask me to formulate all my metaphysical and moral ideas on its basis, or to expect me to change all my basic ideas about God because I cannot raise any credible argument against the resurrection of Christ — well, if that is not a metabasis eis allo genos, then I don’t know what Aristotle meant by the phrase.” -G.E. Lessing (“On the Proof of Spirit and Power”, 1777)

I know Lessing is a product of the Enlightenment, and the Enlightenment has all been discredited now.  But I still can’t get past the heart of Lessing’s comment.  This, in a nutshell, is the wall I am butting up against with this whole Trinity thing.  This is, in Lessing’s language, is the ugly ditch between history and metaphysics.  I don’t agree with him totally – I think there are historical events that could provide evidence for certain metaphysical propositions.  I’m not quite sure what they would be, but I think they can exist.

What I’m saying, though, is that the Bible is quite firmly anchored on the history side of the ditch.  But I have not good reason (no theological justification or mechanism) for thinking the Bible provides reliable information on the other side of the ditch.  But that’s fine.  I can live quite comfortably on this side of the ditch – after all, I live within history, and this is the side of the ditch God has met me on.  And I have been pretty content with this solution.

Until it occurred to me that, unless I find some way to cross Lessing’s ditch, I have no basis for a belief in the Trinity.  And I said, “Ah crap.”

I hope this makes sense.  I’m not sure I have any other way to say it.

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