The Bishop of London on the nature of Truth

Religion / SOSc

This has been a day of reading and reflection. I’ve had a chance to start getting caught up the long list of websites that I’ve bookmarked to read over the Spring and Summer.

I came across this quote by Richard Chartres in an interview on nature of Christian Contemplation:

“[T]ruth expresses itself as an economy in which the various elements of the truth aspect and balance one another. The truth is not to be encapsulated in a neat formula. It exists as a massive symphony, where the truth is given by the interplay of the various parts. If you omit any part of it, then there is a reaction and exaggeration of the missing element.”

More here.

I had a conversation earlier today on the nature of the paradigm shift the Church is presently experiencing. We’re moving from a deterministic understanding where we can “nail things down, just so” and know the right answer, to one in which we have multiple strands of networked ideas all competing and riffing off one another. We’re moving from a deterministic paradigm to a connectional one – where the interactions between ideas are at least as important, if not more so, than the ideas themselves.

So, with all that playing in my memory, I was delighted to run across this quote that describes Truth as a Symphony with harmony, rhythm, pitch and melodies. It takes us way from the idea of Truth as single statement and toward the idea of Truth as story.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. That’s how I feel. Thank you for sharing. When the Gospel of John has Jesus say he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I reflect on how each of those words are meant to be living and active, not static and written on stones of certitude. We find the Way by walking (A little Brian McLaren), we find the Truth by seeking, and we find the Life by living. These all call for active engagement, by faith (or by the faith of Jesus). It’s a beautiful dance. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. And nowhere is this shift better articulated than in your book Entangled States, which gives both the faith and scientific foundation for it.

  3. I think that either the truth is obvious or the truth is unknown. Rather than come out with a new definition of truth that sounds wonderfully poetic but actually means absolutely nothing the Church should admit when it does not definitely know what the truth is. In other words, tell the truth.

  4. Sandy says

    What a thoughtful, useful, practical read! Thanks for sharing it. Bishop Chartres has nicely articulated some ideas that have been rattling around in my attempts at reconciling spiritual life with religious practice and the strange (if wonderful, enlightening, and useful) collection of writings that is the Bible as we know it.

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