The Hoffman lecture this year was titled “The Provisional Nature of Truth”. Rev. James Wetzstein, the LCMS campus pastor at Valparaiso University, delivered the talk. He spoke about the importance of defining terms when having conversations in an era where the truth can be a contested thing. He specifically talked about three different definitions of faith. He discussed how Christians use them interchangeably without defining which definition they mean.
Every semester of Honors has an emphasis on Christianity. We have conversations discussing different principals of Lutheran doctrine, among other things. We engage in conversations about Christianity quite often. Rev. Wetzstein’s discussion of the importance of defining terms is especially important. When we take these conversations to other people, it is important to define the terms that are being used. This extends beyond different definitions of faith to any kind of word or concept. There are many concepts that may seem innately obvious but subtle differences may sway the meaning of a conversation.
Rev. Wetzstein gave three different definitions for faith: A statement of faith like a creed, the presuppositions shared by Christians and non-Christians alike, and the promise of expectant hope. I was familiar with the first and third definition of faith. I had never thought about how the second one relates to Christianity. I remember discussing the need for universal presuppositions that must be shared by everyone for there to be any truth, but I never applied it to Christianity. Descartes classic assumption “I think therefore I am” is a classic example of this on the surface. He is forced to accept that the universe in knowable and he exists. Without this basic presupposition there would be no basis for conversation. It is important to have faith that there are still universal truths.