Richard Rohr: 2 Kinds of People: Certitude and Understanding

There are commonly two kinds of human beings:

  1. there are people who want certitude and
  2. there are people who want understanding;

and these two often cannot understand one another.

Those who demand certitude out of life will insist on it even if it doesn’t fit the facts. Logic has nothing to do with it. Truth has nothing to do with it. “Don’t bother me with the truth—I’ve already come to my conclusion!” If you need certitude, you will surround yourself with your conclusions.

The very meaning of faith stands in stark contrast to this mind-set. I think Jesus (or the Father or Spirit) is actually dangerous if taken outside of the Trinity. Jesus held separate from the other members of the Trinity implies that faith is a static concept instead of a dynamic and flowing one.

.. In this space, God gives us a spirit of questing, a desire for understanding; it seems to me it’s only this ongoing search for understanding that will create compassionate and wise people.

If you think you have a right to certitude, then show me where the Gospel ever promised or offered you that. If God wanted us to have evidence, rational proof, and perfect clarity, the incarnation of Jesus would have been delayed till the invention of audio recorders and video cameras.

.. Rational certitude is exactly what the Scriptures do not offer us. They offer us something much better and an entirely different way of knowing: an intimate relationship, a dark journey, a path where we must discover for ourselves that grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness are absolutely necessary for survival in an uncertain world. You only need enough clarity and ground to know how to live without certitude! Yes, we really are saved by faith. People who live in this way never stop growing, are not easily defeated, and frankly, are fun to live with.

You can tell mature and authentic faith by people’s ability to deal with darkness, failure, and non-validation of the ego—and by their quiet but confident joy! Infantile religion insists on certainty every step of the way and thus is not very happy.

Richard Rohr: The Union of Human and Divine

.. it is formally and theologically incorrect to say “Jesus is God,” as most Christians glibly do and then need to “prove.” Jesus is instead a third something—the perfect union of “very God” with “very man.”For the truly orthodox Christian, the Trinity must be “God,” and Jesus can only be understood inside that Eternal Embrace.

.. Jesus is the union of human and divine in space and time; whereas the Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit from the beginning of time. In later centuries, the church lost this mystical understanding in favor of fast-food, dualistic Christianity that was easier for the average parish believer to comprehend. We pushed Jesus, and we lost Christ.

Trinity and the Law of Three

The vast majority of the world’s metaphysical systems are binary. They work on the principle of paired, equal opposites. We see great archetypal polarities that are somehow held in balance: male/female, dark/light, conscious/unconscious, good/evil, action/being. Our dualistic minds feel comfortable in that kind of binary swing. Binary systems prefer symmetry and come to resolution in stasis or stillness.

.. Ternary systems have three independent forces coming together to form something new, a fourth thing. Perhaps the simplest example is a braid. You need at least three sections of hair for a braid to hold; the braid is then a new creation. The interweaving of threeness results in something that didn’t exist before. It is not just a swinging back and forth between two old things that were already there, but a drive into a brand new dimension.

Trinity: The Tea Cupboard

One day when Murat visited them, the old couple were bursting with pride, eager to show him the new tea cupboard that their son had just shipped from Istanbul. It was indeed a handsome piece of furniture, and the woman had already arranged her best tea set on its upper shelf. Murat was polite but curious. Why would their son go through such an expense to send them a tea cupboard? And if the purpose of this piece of furniture was storage, why were there no drawers? “Are you sure it’s a tea cupboard?” Murat asked. They were sure.

But the question continued to nag at Murat. Finally, just before taking his leave, he said, “Do you mind if I have a look at this tea cupboard?” With their permission, he turned the backside around and unscrewed a couple of packing boards. A set of cabinet doors swung open to reveal inside a fully operative ham radio set.

.. But what if inside the Trinity is concealed a powerful communications tool that could connect us to the rest of reality