This little nugget is hidden in Sertillanges’ chapter on the organization of life. And while this is the chapter with which I disagree with Sertillanges the most, there are some good bits of wisdom, not only for us aspiring intellectuals but for everyone. This particular truth seems simple, but oh how I wish it was followed today (by myself as much as anyone).
“Before giving out truth, acquire it for yourself” (52).
This is an obvious truth, but very seldom followed. Since I am in seminary, people will often ask me questions about the Bible or theology that I do not have any good answers for. It is very tempting (and I often succumb) to just rattle off the first few things that come to my head that sound like a good answer, but this is no help for anyone. If I don’t know something, even something I feel like I should know, I have to answer accordingly.
I am in the business of acquiring truth, but just because that is what I spend my time doing, doesn’t mean that I have all the answers (despite what I would like people to think). My pastor once commented about the difference between himself and his wife. He is a talker, and she is not. He said that ‘you would be amazed at how many less stupid things she says than me.’ This is true, when we open our mouths to give answers to questions we really shouldn’t, then we often say stupid things, and end up confusing everybody.
Can you imagine a world where people actually knew something about a subject before talking about it?