What’s True and What Might Be True

I wonder if a lot of theology shouldn’t be more tentative, given for example the ambiguity of some Scripture to us and the unknowability to us of much of God’s handiwork.

Thus, for all we Protestants know Mary could be the “Queen of Heaven,” but no Catholic can know that for sure.  And, with many issues like this, does it really matter very much if at all in deciding how we should worship and live?

This may be another area, like the more fundamental gamble in Pascal’s wager, in which the prudent man/prudent Christian should choose a path with the idea in mind that he can’t be certain which is right — and so he must be mindful of the relative upsides/downsides of right/wrong choices.

For example, we don’t really know for sure how irrelevant works are for salvation, and we don’t really know for sure if our soul’s ultimate destination is predetermined.  There is some Scriptural ambiguity, and good arguments to be made on both sides, Scripturally and otherwise.  So the prudent thing to do is to avoid sin.  There’s little downside for the Christian in doing so if he turns out to have been wrong, and there’s a huge upside if he turns out to have been right; conversely, if he chooses not to avoid sin, the gain is relatively trivial if he is right, but the wages (wager?) of sin is death if he’s wrong.

Postscript:  According to my notes taken listening to Geoffrey Hosking, “Epochs of European Civilization:  Antiquity to Renaissance” (Modern Scholar lectures, CD), the Orthodox Christian view was that some theological issues — e.g., Pelagianism and the nature of the Trinity (“Filioque”) — were simply beyond the human intellect to understand and resolve.

Second postscript:  After a tentative description of Heaven in Letters to Malcolm:  Chiefly on Prayer, C.S. Lewis concludes (124):  “Guesses, of course, only guesses.  If they are not true, something better will be.”