Intellectual Sifting: Get Real – A Lesson for Shroud of Turin Studies

image In May of this year, Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, wrote these blurbs, as part of a larger essay, in his Daily Dish blog. These few, extracted and collected, are something to think about as we struggle to understand the mystery of the Shroud of Turin. For me, they are keepers. They help to keep the ghosts of old catechism at bay. For those unfamiliar with Andrew Sullivan, he is British; lives and writes in the United States, mostly about politics; is somewhat conservative and is a very outspoken Roman Catholic.

. . . No modern Christian, it seems to me, can claim the literal inerrancy of the Bible without abandoning logos. No educated Christian today can deny that the scriptures we have – copies of translations of copies of copies of oral histories – are internally and collectively inconsistent, written by many authors, constructed in specific historical contexts, reflecting human biases, and supplemented by several other gospels that at the time claimed just as much authority as those gospels eventually selected by flawed men centuries later.

. . . There is no single authoritative text, written by one God, word for word true. There is a much more complicated series of writings designed by many men, doubtless under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that help us see some form of the figure Jesus through languages and texts and memories. I think the character and message of Jesus are searingly clear and distinctive even taking into account that daunting veil through which we are asked to see.

. . . So we are left in search of this Jesus with a fast-burning candle in a constantly receding cave where we know that at some point, the darkness will envelop us entirely. We will catch Him at times; He will elude us at others. We will have to listen to many words he may have spoken before we can each discern the words he may have meant; we will have to keep our eyes and ears open for science’s revelations about the world, while understanding that science is just one way of understanding the world and that poetry, history, and practical perspectives have things to tell us as well. The cathedral at Chartres; the long story of Christian debate and theology; the rituals and daily practices that help us stay trained to intuit the divine we cannot understand and the divine we do not always see in every face around us: these too tell us things that go beyond fact, archeology and hermeneutics.

Yes, this intellectual sifting is hard and troubling to faith; yes, it may end with more mystery than clarity. But if our faith is to be true, it must rest on something more than denial of reality. It must rest on being the greatest experience of reality.

3 thoughts on “Intellectual Sifting: Get Real – A Lesson for Shroud of Turin Studies”

  1. So is the shroud shrouded in the darkness of the constantly receding cave? And is the shroud more mystery than clarity? Oh, yes! How wonderfully it is an exercise in intellectual sifting.

    I hope that we never figure it out. Thanks for posting this. Andrew is oh-so right!

  2. A truthful and scientific comment.
    Religion and Science move proving and reproving, each other.
    Science is an act of God, while Faith is the guided way of God to understand His Acts, the Science.
    Human mistakes in understanding faith, will lead to defective reproving in science. similar is the case here. Certainly, Shroud is a fact, visible to everybody, if we fail to understand, how this picture was created, it is our defective faith or our defective science, which is standing in our way to solve the mystery.
    We should be bold enough in correcting our faith, and science will certainly come forward to prove it, that this is “picture of Real Jesus Christ, who never died on the cross”, all Biblical statements, about HIS appearances, after disappearance from the temporary sepulcher, are true facts. He, our beloved Jesus Christ was a true beloved Prophet of God.
    Scientists should give a serious thought, to what is claimed by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India. He is the claimant of being Second Coming of Jesus Christ, in spirit. He claimed that our beloved Jesus Christ, lived a long life (to spread the message of God, to all tribes of Israelites), after fulfilling the prophesy of Bible, as per guidance given to him by God Himself.
    He further claimed that disciples of our Beloved Jesus Christ, prepared a special Ointment to cure fast the wounds of our Beloved Jesus Christ, which might have been applied on the whole body of our Beloved Christ. If after application, of this ointment, Our beloved Christ was wrapped in the Shroud Cloth, the evaporation of this Ointment, might have created this image on the shroud. All the references of this Ointment components are given in several books. The name of this ointment is also referred as “Marham Issa”, which means, an ointment specially made for Jesus Christ. These are Historical facts, which are being completely overlooked, due to our Faith only. Please set aside the Faith, for a moment and look into the historical facts, claimed by the claimant of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, in spirit. This may show us a new cavern with a lot of scientific light.

Comments are closed.