I haven’t read this book yet, but I can recommend an article taken from it, called “Ironic Witness,” which appears in the July 10th issue of The Christian Century. Myron Penner likens living faithfully, in this age, to being an “apprentice to the truth.”
I love that phrase, “apprentice to the truth.” Penner explains what he means:
“… a life of faith is more aptly articulated in terms of a struggle to be faithful— to live truthfully– than as the possession of truths and absolute certainties…. Rather than thinking of the believer as the possessor of truth, who must then work ardently to maintain belief over against all rational challenges, it might be better to view the one who has faith as an ‘apprentice to truth.’
“To speak of an apprentice to truth in this way is to acknowledge that truth is not our possession, but something by which we must be possessed. I do not have the truth and cannot get it on my own. Instead, I must apprentice….”
In many ways, this is a fine articulation of religion in balance: the affirmation of the reality of a Truth (or a Love, or a Power, or a Goodness, or a Beauty) bigger than– and independent of– any person’s idea of it; the affirmation of a humility that recognizes our inability to possess this Truth (Love, Power, Goodness, Beauty); and the affirmation that this Truth (Love, Power, Goodness, Beauty) is worthy, not only of our time and attention, but also of our bending our will in its direction. It’s a reality to build lives out of.