The Blind Men and the Elephant
by John Godfrey Sax
(Interestingly, though I have read this poem many times, I came across the last verse for the first time today!)
It was six men of Hindustan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind)
That each by observation
Might satisfy the mind.
The First approached the Elephant
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side
At once began to bawl:
“Bless me, it seems the Elephant
Is very like a wall.”
The Second, feeling of his tusk,
Cried, “Ho! What have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear.”
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Then boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake.”
The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”
And so these men of Hindustan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right
And all were in the wrong.
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
Truth has Two Wings
(From That Incredible Christian by A. W. Tozer)
I believe it was Dr. G. Campbell Morgan who said that the whole truth does not lie in “It is written,” but in “It is written” and “Again it is written.” The second text must be placed over against the first to balance it and give it symmetry, just as the right wing must work along with the left to balance the bird and enable it to fly.
Many of the doctrinal divisions among the churches are the result of a blind and stubborn insistence that truth has but one wing. Each side holds tenaciously to one text, refusing grimly to acknowledge the validity of the other. This error is an evil among churches, but it is a real tragedy when it gets into the hearts of individual Christians and begins to affect their devotional lives.
Lack of balance in the Christian life is often the direct consequence of overemphasis on certain favorite texts, with a corresponding under-emphasis on other related ones. For it is not denial only that makes a truth void; failure to emphasize it will in the long run be equally damaging.
Let’s use both wings. We’ll get further that way.
A Quote from Humble Orthodoxy
by Josh Harris
The first man was a shallow, uninformed evangelical. Everything about him shouted of squishy theology. He didn’t know or use big theological words. He watched Christian TV and thought it was deep. He bought books from the inspirational section of the bookstore. He attended one of those megachurches where the sermons are short and the worship leaders look like American Idol contestants.
The second man who went to pray was different. He was a Christian of theological depth and substance--this was obvious by the heavy study Bible he carried with him. He only read books by long-dead theologians. He subscribed to the podcasts of all the solid, gospel-centered expository preachers who didn’t tell funny stories or make jokes in their sermons. He felt cheated if a sermon was less than an hour long.
This second man began to pray. He said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people--doctrinally ignorant, theologically clueless, superficial in their saccharine-sweet evangelicalism. I thank you that you have made me what I am: true to good doctrine, uncompromising on teaching, orthodox to the core.”
But the first man would not even look up to heaven. Instead he beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
When Truths Seem to Contradict by Jacob Ninan (my father)
What am I saying:
1. Truth does exist, and is important. I disagree with New Age thinkers who say truth is relative, and unimportant, and depends on what we think. "You think what you want, and I will think what I want. What you think is true, is true for you, and you are free to think that, as long as it does not interfere with what I think."
2. Truth is a many-splendored thing. Each of us sees only a few aspects of it, and especially the parts we like to see. Like the six men for Hindustan, we are all partly right, and partly wrong.
3. The Truth about the supernatural, such as the truth about God, is wonderful and larger than what we can comprehend with our finite minds. "Now we know in part, then we shall know fully"
4. It is entirely possible that truths that seem to be contradictory to our finite minds, may actually be reconcilable to a Mind much bigger than ours. In fact, the Bible is full of examples of views of Truth that appear to contradict each other, but are, in fact, BOTH right!
5. It is therefore necessary to remain humble in our perception of truth. It is not worth breaking fellowship and quarreling about matters on which the Bible is not absolutely clear about, and especially about views of doctrines which can both be supported by Scripture but appear to contradict each other.