And I had come to you from the Gentiles and fixed my attention on the gold which you willed your people to take from Egypt, since the gold was yours, wherever it was found". (Augustine, Confessions, IX)
When our communities fall prey to this greatest interpretive temptations, it is often only the voice of outsiders, of those who are ‘others’, that can set us right. If we have not taken the time to cultivate the skills, habits and dispositions that allow us to hear their voices, we will fall into a situation of interpretive arrogance. That is, we will deceive ourselves into thinking that our words are God’s words, that we are somehow oracles of the divine.
Then will we allow the grace of God to unmask our foolish pretensions, our pride, our arrogance that often masquerade as devotion. Then we will come to understand what Christ wished to teach his disciples two thousand years ago, by his words, by his deeds, by his death: men will be led to the light of truth, never by force, never by coercion, never by dissembling and deceit, but by guiding them to recognize it in the trust and confidence we ourselves place in truth's splendor, which needs no aid from any of our arrogant human constructs. For truth is truth, no matter where it is found. As Augustine says:
"And I had come to you from the Gentiles and fixed my attention on the gold which you willed your people to take from Egypt, since the gold was yours, wherever it was found".
(Adapted from Stephen Fowl and Gregory Jones, Reading in Communion).