Whether you have already read the book "Through the River" or are interested in the topic of truth and how it impacts your faith and relationships, we welcome you and look forward to interacting with you.
I rushed to each light, only to wait in the hot car, listening to the radio chattering on. It was the morning commute and I learned to endure it—even enjoy the liminal time between my worlds. It’s was a time to think ahead to the coming day; a time to prepare. I needed this time. Life at work was so different from life at home. At home it was secure, sure, steady. I knew what to expect, and I knew the rules. Work was full of uncertainty. Different personalities and ways of thinking created conflict, discomfort and frustration. I never quite got used to these feelings.
Why is it that we think so differently? Why when I talk to some people do we just miss each other’s meanings completely? Could it have something to do with our ideas of truth? Maybe the foundations of our thinking are made out of very different materials. Maybe we live on two sides of the same river.
Through the River describes what it’s like living on the rocky shore of the river where people believe in a firm truth and rely on logic to get there. Many people today grew up in a world where this was the primary way of thinking. But then people began to get into the river and swim out to the sandy islands to live. They left the rocky shore because they could no longer believe that logic was the only way to truth. But they began to believe in a totally personal truth and became isolated from each other. Not happy with the sandy islands, some people returned to the rocky shore, but others swam onto the other side of the river. These people began to believe in truth that not only can be found through logic, but can be found in other ways—like personal experience and history.
In our lives, we can all think of people who live in one community along the river or another. Perhaps we live on one side and work on the other—commuting back and forth along the river. When I didn’t understand what the difference was, it was discouraging, disorienting and frustrating. But once I understood what the difference among people was in their view of truth, it became much easier to deal with.
One thing that helped me in relating to people in different parts of the river is realizing that it is not my job to change their perspective—to convince them of another way. Your assumptions about truth are not like your eternal salvation. You can be a Christian and live on either side of the river or on the sandy islands. So it is not imperative that I try to win people over to my way of thinking.
But though I may not need to convince people to think like me, understanding how others think helps my relationships and understanding. For instance, if I live on the rocky shore and work in the river, I know that pragmatism drives the decision-making of the people I am working with. Logic will not reach them, but relationships will. I know then that is important to build good relationships and to hear the stories of people in order to understand where they are coming from.
If I live in the river and go to school on the rocky shore then I know it will be important to have arguments for why I believe certain things. I will understand why truth comes first in all conversations, why the story behind things is secondary and why conversations turn to debate more often than not.
If I live on the far shore and come to visit either the sandy islands or the rocky shore, I may always feel at least a little out of place, but I have an advantage. I both affirm the belief in logic of the rocky shore residents and hold valuable the importance of story and personal experience of the sandy island residents. I can begin to build relationships with either person because we have something in common.
So the commute can be hot, frustrating, and tiring, but it can be done. By understanding how others think about truth I have the ability to work with people who think very differently than I think.
Through the River: Understanding Your Assumptions About Truth
Behind your every decision and relationship are assumptions about truth that guide your actions. They go unnoticed in your daily life but their influence guides your faith, your relationships and your outreach. Come and explore the communities that live in River Town. As you read this simple analogy, we will introduce you to the three most common ways to view truth today – we call them Truth Lenses and they are an important part of your worldview. We will watch as the Rock Dwellers, Island Dwellers and Valley Dwellers interact while using different lenses.
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Jon and Mindy Hirst
Jon and Mindy Hirst are co-founders of Generous Mind, a think tank devoted to helping people be generous with their ideas. Jon graduated from Judson University with a major in Communications and a minor in Sociology. Mindy also gradutated from Judson University with a major in Communications. They also have the exciting role of raising three children.
With Dr. Paul Hiebert
The late Paul G. Hiebert (1932-2007) was Distinguished Professor of Mission and Anthropology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and previously taught at Fuller Theological Seminar. He also served as a missionary to India. He recieved his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and was the author or coauthor of numerous articles and books in the fields of anthropology and missions.