Docta Ignorantia

“I did not seek Christ, but the truth.  He, who is the truth, then bestowed on me the grace to find me.”

With these words, Simone Weil, the French atheist, testified of her search and roundabout way to Christ, almost a century ago.

In our time it is beginning to look as if every person has his own truth, and that THE truth doesn’t matter anymore.  Denials and distortions of the truth are happening all the time in our world.  We are living in what is sometimes called “the post-truth world.”

How would it be if with everything we proclaim we would at least in all modesty say: This is MY truth?  No more and no less, in the awareness that I, as a single individual, am not capable of comprehending THE truth.  In times past this awareness was called docta ignorantia, “learned ignorance.”  That is no false modesty, but modest realism.  For no matter how much I have seen, learned, and thought, as an individual I am not capable of knowing the truth.  What I see and recognize is a riddle picture in a mirror.  What I seek remains hidden from me my whole life long, until I suddenly stand face to face, eye to eye, with Him who is the only one who can say of Himself: I AM the truth.

Perhaps, at the end of our life, we can then say: “I have sought the truth.  He, who is the truth, then bestowed on me the grace to find me.”

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Summer 2022

2 replies
  1. Julia Polter
    Julia Polter says:

    Dear Bastiaan, thank you for this wonderful reflection.
    At the end of her life Simone Weil’s quest for the truth led her to several Christ experiences: “Christ himself came down and took possession of me…neither my senses nor my imagination had any part; I only felt in the midst of my suffering the presence of a love, like that which one can read in the smile of a beloved face…Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth.” (Spiritual Autobiography)


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