Since I have declared for many decades that I am a seeker of truth, and I am guessing so have you, how does one go about such a daunting quest? What is Truth, and how do we find it?
I was thinking about this partially because I'd been having a theological email dialogue with a clergy friend. One of the things I wrote was, "The God I know wouldn't torture anyone for a minute, let alone for eternity." I was taking exception to Anselm's 11th century idea of substitutionary salvation that got added to official theology. The idea had been debated since Paul, but was not "settled" until Anselm, at least the way I read history. My idea of salvation is that Jesus saves me from a lot of unnecessary pain and angst by showing me how to be in relationship with God and with one another. He is a sacred bridge.
So how do I know this or anything else?
First, I have a touchstone or two of things I know with certainty. In this case, God is a loving, living Presence, always with us, never absent, even if we forget for a moment, we are not abandoned. We live in a state of Grace, even when we stumble. Since I really do know this, anything to the contrary contains falsehood, confusion, willful deceit, or maybe just comes from a shallow thinker. Part of this involves my moral sense, is the idea a lifter, a helper and does it lead to goodness without harm?
Then I look from where and from whom did the idea I'm considering come? How credible are they? What do they benefit from promoting the idea? (As in Anselm's salvation scheme, the church gets control of the seekers wanting to be saved from hell, however imaginary it all might be.) The same could be said of politics and other areas.
I double check, as does this sound like the original and do I agree with the original? Would Jesus have likely agreed with, whatever bit of theology we might consider? And am I in full or partial agreement with them. Is this (whatever) aligned with my experience, knowledge and common sense?
I look with clear eyes at myself to make as certain as possible that whatever it is that I see and am considering is not confirmation bias. I don't want to falsely shore up false or partial truths, even long held ones.
After prayer and meditation, with willingness to let go of even my most treasured ideas in order to seek and find Truth, I arrive at my working hypotheses. Because I am not infinite, I do know I can not arrive at all Truth, but can be sure I am or am not in the right track aiming at my goal or gone astray.
So I question, whatever it is, whoever it is, they have to pass my tests in order for me to take them seriously. I chose not to live in a mental prison. I chose to be free.
Holy Presence, Lord of my soul, guide us gently to Your Truth. Help us to let go of all out of sync with You. Open our eyes and ears and mind to You. Lead us out of mental prisons to freedom.