Against Studied Ambiguity

A religious entity should be as clear as possible about its beliefs. In particular, it should spurn studied ambiguity. Moreover, the Christian tradition professes not the wise getting to God, to the source of all truth, but rather that God got to us. In Christ, God came to us, incarnate. Of course, folks differ in maturity, commitment, ability, and existential engagement and what can be said has to take that into account, recognizing with humility the great Mystery of reality. See, for example, Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Still.

As Einstein said about physical science, things should be made as simple as possible, and no simpler! There is a certain type of studied ambiguity that seems to me particularly deceptive and abhorrent. Suppose a group of folks think A is the case whereas another group thinks B is the case where at most one of A or B can really be true. To be firmly committed to A but to intentionally use words that hid that or even suggest that B might be true is an attack on the existence of Truth itself.

To give one substantial example, while the Orthodox may validly suggest that the Catholic Church is too explicit regarding the mystery of the Eucharist, it seems to me that the Anglican tradition has a studied ambiguity which is politically motivated. The traditional Lutheran, Orthodox, or Catholic doctrines, while different of course, all honor Truth in a way that is not done within the Anglican tradition.

Closer to my home, it seems that Pope Francis is sometimes intentionally ambiguous for political reasons. Better when he is clear even if he is clearly wrong.

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1 Response to Against Studied Ambiguity

  1. Darin R Lovelace says:

    I agree with your assessment, Thomas.

    With respect to the Anglican sacramental [sic] tradition and teaching on the Eucharist, I at first was comforted by the “openness” of the position that I could hold a fundamentally opposite view of the presence of Jesus in the species of Holy Communion than the person next to me at the altar rail. As I matured in my faith, however, it became intellectually dishonest for me to suppose that both I (who held even then that Jesus was physically present) and a fellow Anglican (who decried this as metaphysically impossible and held a “merely” spiritual view) were sharing the same Faith about Jesus. And the rampant theological ambiguity from official Anglican leadership amplifies this incoherence.

    Re Pope Francis, I too am saddened that his ambiguity appears strategically political. Would that he could be as animated and concerned about the anecdotal liturgical practices of Catholics in parishes which barely differ from their Protestant neighbors down the road.

    In Jesum per Mariam,

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