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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is this Lying?

For whatever bizarre reason over the last few months this notion or idea or circumstance or whatever “it” is actually called has come up in my daily experiences either through film (watching movies), discussions with other people, etc. What is this “thing” you might ask (or maybe you are yawning right now thinking, ‘should I move forward with this silly nonsense?’)?

Well, I’m talking about the subject of lying. I actually define lying as the deliberate distortion of the truth. The intent to twist the truth, these things defines lying. Please feel free to let me know if you have a different definition. However, and this is the “thing” I’m talking about, if someone withholds information from another, is that lying? For example, let’s say that a husband has received news from a surgeon that his wife has terminal cancer and will definitely only live for 3 months. The husband refuses to tell the wife for fear that the pain might accelerate the illness due to mitigating health reasons, thus giveing her less time due to stress (or something). Is this lying?

Now, don’t focus on the example alone. In other words, do not focus on the details of the example to the point where you might missed the over all general gist of what I’m trying to say. Moreover, do not focus on whether you personally think it is right or wrong as to whether the husband should tell his wife or not; this is merely one example out of hundreds that could be used. I honestly do not think this is lying. By refraining from revealing information, this is not the same as actually distorting the truth (or facts, as the case may be). If someone chose not to tell someone else something, this certainly cannot constitute an act of lying (although I think I have one example where that may not be the case). Lately I have seen this issue come up in several movies we have watched or in several discussions I have had recently, so I thought I would throw it out there and see if anyone would remark on it. Of course there is so much more to unpack in this issue than what I have touched on in this simple post, but I would love to hear what others have to say about it, so feel free to comment if you are so inclined.


Blogger Jerry Heath said...

To me the most important issues we face today relate to the problem that we are in a transition. We (Americans and perhaps Europeans) are in a transition between the world of values as a state and values as a process. When you define values as a state you concretize society and social actions. But when you move towards defining values as process you tend to get vertigo as the footing seems to be in ooze. We are definitely moving along the road to values as process rather than state but we are always afraid that there is something lost here.

When we view values as a state, not telling a loved one something that will be painful is an absolute lie. But is it good to do? When viewing values as process there is more freedom. But freedom needs to be approached carefully.

I believe that God does mean that we are to approach these issues by considering values as a process. That is the meaning of "I am who I will be!" God intends to view values as a process.

How did America begin this transition? I think it was in the cacophony of all sorts of variant religious ideas that allows some to pursue such a direction. As these attempts (experiments) show both meaning and progress (we have only begun to understand this transition) the movement grows. And particularly in America many of this kind of important movement is done "in the background." Background movements can grow since we do not have a totalitarian government. It is “in the background” because the public debate and the debate that gets into the history books miss many such key American activities (the history books miss a lot of American history). In this case the process was missed because the public debate and the theoretic basis for history are looking for values as state and values as process threatens all the categories of the literati.

So what is “values as a process”? Values as state implies that the world of value is unchanging even if everything else changes. Values as process recognizes the changing world. This recognition sees the world as new in every moment. When we see this we must also see that the values we have must be attuned to the world we are in. This is never an excuse for debauchery, but a call from God to see Him in everything. God is good. What is God doing now?

Jerry Heath
Web Site

1:27 PM, September 28, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...


I am not sure what you are trying to say, to be perfectly honest (no pun intended). "Values as Progress"? This certainly, for me anyway, needs to unpacked a little better. First, when you use the term "values" do you mean ethics, or what we value, or on an individual level what each person beleives to be right or wrong (a type of relative ethic)?

These "values" being in "process" does that mean these "values" change? Not trying to be rude at all, but all these seems to be sophisticated rhetoric. I maybe I'm just too dense to get the meaning of what you are trying to say.

You stated, "not telling a loved one something that will be painful is an absolute lie," why is this a lie and not merely withholding information?

9:22 PM, September 28, 2006  
Blogger Steve Scott said...

I wouldn't classify witholding information as lying. I would classify it as witholding information. I also think I would generally go along with your definition of lying. But...

As a culture, we seem to have forgotten about priviledged information. Too many people believe they have the right to know things that don't rightly concern them. Lying when somebody proposes to do evil with information that isn't theirs to know isn't necessarily a sin. And I don't believe it is a sin to lie when certain information is nobody's business, but somebody tries to make it theirs. Rahab, the Hebrew midwives and others are good examples of this.

In the witholding of information or lying itself, I think Christians could stand to learn a bit more. There's a reason Jesus told us to be wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves.

3:23 AM, October 03, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Steve,

Thanks for the response. I agree and think you have hit the nail on the head.

7:46 PM, October 03, 2006  

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