November 12, 2014

Douglas Groothuis and Kierkegaard on Silence and Truth

Diversions and the omnipresent noise and clutter of contemporary culture erect barriers to the serious and disciplined pursuit of truth. Although I do not believe it is included in any apology for the Christian worldview (it is scarcely mentioned anywhere at all), one of the key elements in considering Christian truth claims is not an argument at all, but a condition in which arguments may be understood and appreciated. That condition is silence. No one has stated it better than Kierkegaard, who wrote before the onset of electrification and its manifold mind-numbing media.
In observing the present state of affairs and of life in general, from a Christian point of view one would have to say: It is a disease. And if I were a physician and someone asked me, "What do you think should be done?" I would answer, "Create silence, bring about silence." God's Word cannot be heard, and if in order to be heard in the hullabaloo it must be shouted deafeningly with noisy means, then it is not God's Word; create silence!

And we humans, we clever fellows, seem to have become sleepless in order to invent every new means to increase noise, to spread noise and insignificance with the greatest possible ease and on the greatest possible scale. Yes, everything has been turned upside down. The means of communication have been perfected, but what is publicized with such hot haste is rubbish. Oh, create silence!45
In the silence of rational reflection, truth may disclose itself to the receptive soul.46
45. Kierkegaard, in Provocations, p. 372. For an absorbing treatment of the meaning of silence, see Max Picard, The World of Silence, trans. Stanley Goodman (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1952).
46. On the dangers of diversion in our technological society see Douglas Groothuis, The Soul in Cyberspace (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997).

Groothuis also posted the Kierkegaard quote on his old blog here (click).

Thanks to Carrie Hunter for bringing this quote in Groothuis' book to my attention.

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