• O'ROURKE Daniel
  • OAKS Dallin H.
  • OCHEL Evita
  • OCKHAM, William of
  • ODEN Thomas
  • ODHNER Ormond
  • OGDEN Schubert
  • OLSON Roger E.
  • OLSSON Erik
  • OORD Thmoas Jay
  • OPOKU Kofi Asare
  • OPPY Graham
  • OPRAH Winfrey
  • ORIGEN of Alexandria
  • OTTO Rudolph *
  • OWEN John

  • O'ROURKE Daniel *

    (Contemporary American psychotherapist)


    No one finds THE truth; they only find A truth.

    Max Born, the Nobel Prize physicist and mathematician said, "The belief that there is only one truth and that one is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil in the world." The English Clergyman Robert Burton said it more dramatically, "Truth is the shattered mirror strewn in myriad bits; while each believes his little bit to be the whole."

    That's the West. In the East, the Buddhists say loving-kindness is one of their foundational spiritual practices. Loving-kindness is open-hearted, friendliness, offering goodwill to all we meet, to everyone regardless of his or her opinions. It knows that none of us has the fullness of truth. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh tells us in our discussions to really listen that we may understand and not to just wait the other out so we can refute her and reiterate our point of view.

    The Buddhists would agree with Vaclav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic, who said, "Seek the company of those who seek the truth, and run away from those who have found it." No one finds THE truth; they only find A truth.

    No one - no religion, no political party, and no nation state has the totality of truth. That awareness has major implications on how we relate to other people, other religions, other political parties, or governments. How we speak TO each other and ABOUT each other is more important than the issue before us. And reframing the issue can often resolve false dilemmas. We should not be so damnably certain.

    Differing ideas present a huge challenge to our competitive nature. It's a challenge to struggle to be "we" rather than "me." To be "us" rather than "them." Why do we have to look at "them" monolithically, labeling "them" so we can categorize who they are and how they think?. Can't differences be fruitful? Can't creative tensions be productive? I'm reminded of the Yiddish Proverb: "If we all pulled in one direction, the world would keel over." No one opinion can give us truth. There is no such thing as THE truth.


    *  O'Rourke Daniel , The OBSERVER, October 13, 2011



    OAKS Dallin H. *

    ( American LSD religious leader and lawyer, b. 1932)


    In the matter of truth, reason has the first word and revelation  has the last word.


    Reason and revelation are methods of learning that are available to seekers of every type of knowledge.

    Seekers of secular knowledge who have paid the price in personal effort are often illuuminated or magnified by what some call intuition and others recognize as inspiration or revelation. Many great discoveries and achievements in science and the arts  have resulted from such God-given illumination.

    Unfortunately, some of the practitioners of study and reason are contemptuous of or hostile toward religion and revelation, maintaining that truth can only be found and learning can only occur through tie methods with which they are familiar. They cannot conceive of the existence of a system of learning that assumes the existence of God and the reality of communications from his Spirit. The only ultimate authority they can conceive is reason, and the word of this god is rationality, as they define it.

    Despite the apparent conflict between reason and revelation, the rational and the religious views of the world are not the opposites of one another. The view of religion (at least the religion that is undiluted by apostasy) includes the methods of reason and the truths determined by them. In contrast, the rational view excludes what is supernatural. This exclusion was accomplished by merging religion and philosophy

    The effect of a long interaction between religion and rational science  has been that their interaction has always been one-sided - toward the naturalizing of religion, not toward the supernaturalizing of science or scholarship. What is here called the "naturalizing of religion" has the effect of denying the existence of any truths or values that cannot be demonstrated by the methods of the so-called natural or scientific order.

    Those who rely exclusively on study and reason reject or remain doubtful of all absolutes that cannot be established through the five senses, including good and evil and the existence and omniscience of God. They also reject all other methods of acquiring knowledge, including revelation. They tend to be self-sufficient, self-important, and enamored of their own opinions. Reason is their god and intellectualism is their creed.

    But the things of God cannot be learned solely by study and reason. Despite their essential and beneficial uses, the methods of study and reason are insufficient as ways of approaching God and understanding the doctrines of his gospel. We cannot come to know the things of God while rejecting or failing to use the indispensable method God has prescribed to learn these things. The things of God must be learned in his own way, through faith in God and revelation from the Holy Ghost.

    Some say that reason is urged as the most likely way to acquire knowledge on some subjects and revelation as the most likely way on other subjects. This proposal draws a boundary line through the world of knowledge. On the one side it grants primacy to reason, and on the other side it grants primacy to revelation. This approach has been used by both religionists and philosophers, though they are not necessarily in agreement on where the boundary line should be drawn.

    Just as reason has the first word in matters of sacred knowledge, so revelation has the last word. Study and reason also have an important role in learning the things of God. Seekers begin by studying the word of God and the teachings of his servants and by trying to understand them by the techniques of reason. Reason can authenticate revelation and inspiration by measuring them against the threshold tests of edification, position, and consistency with gospel principles. But reason has no role in evaluating the content of revelation in order to accept or reject it according to some supposed standard of reasonableness. Revelation has the final word.


    *Oaks, Dallin H. (1991), The Lord's Way, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book,





    OCHEL Evita *

    (Contemporary Canadian author)

     Not truth but YOUR truth shall set you free


    It has been said throughout the ages that the truth  shall set you free. For millennia, humankind has been in search of “the” truth. Religions have attempted to teach the truth. Governments have attempted to suppress the truth. Science has attempted to quantify the truth. And philosophers have attempted to define the truth. At different stages of our personal evolution we were appeased and fascinated by each of these groups in our own unique way. Today, as many of us are coming to know, it is no longer enough. In the midst of the awakening and consciousness shift on our planet many of us are transcending all past structures that attempted to deal with the truth. The question we need to ask ourselves today is what truth are we talking about, and more importantly whose truth.

    We have a lot of people, groups and organizations to this day trying to share “the” truth. The truth about life, about death, about love, and you name it! And as we go through our journey in this lifetime, it is all too common for us to adopt various truths, living by them and treating them as our own. This is all too often influenced by our beliefs, which are normally nothing more than conditioned ways of thinking and behaving. And there would be nothing wrong with living life through someone else’s truth, if it wasn’t for the one small detail that it just isn’t “your” truth. And although this may not have mattered in the past, today we have come to a spiritual maturity where it does matter, and matter a lot. For unless we experience something personally, external truth, no matter how good sounding is nothing more than a limiting concept.

    You must have the Courage to Live Your Truth. I will be the first to admit that it is not easy to live our truth. There are just too many external influences in our physical world that try to dictate what is normal or acceptable at any given time. There are also many personal pressures in the form of family, friends or coworkers that dictate what or how they expect us to be, or do.

    As long as we live life by someone else’s rules, or truth, we are never going to be free. We will never fully know who we really are. This is why the age old statement is very true, that indeed the truth shall set you free. But a small addition that I propose to make is to understand that it is YOUR truth that shall set you free.

    When you give yourself permission to be you, express what your heart and soul desire to experience at any given time, it is then that we really begin to experience the fullness of the human experience. It is then that we really begin to live consciously. And when you give yourself the permission to be fully you, you give others the permission to be fully them. Judgement gets released and neutralized. Love, compassion and acceptance are embraced and practiced.

    So give yourself the permission to be you, find your personal truth at every point of your life journey and live it. Live your truth, and step into the knowing of who it is that you really are.


    See Internet Evita OCHEL



    OCKHAM, William of *

    (English scholastic philosopher, father of nominalism, 1285-1348)

    There are no necessary truths in the realm of created existence

         1. For Ockham reality is radically individual, and in no sense common and universal. The universality of concepts consists solely in the fact that they are signs and names for many things (hence “nominalism”). Therefore scientific knowledge cannot be concerned with necessities inherent to the natural world for there are none. God alone is the necessary being. Necessity can be found only in the logical connections between terms and words of propositions.

            Ockham’s nominalism destroys the Aristotelian conception of truth as the conformity of thing and intellect. For it makes sense to talk of conformity only if individual things do have a (universal) nature from which the intellect can abstract intelligible 'species'.  But for Ockham there are no universal natures. His nominalist reduction of universals to nothing more than a way of speaking in propositions undermines the view of truth as conformity.  

          2. According to medieval scholasticism, God makes things in conformity with universal forms pre-existing in Him. Ockham rejects this model of creation. God can know creatures and create them without the mediation of any ideas. There are no universal forms or ideas pre-existing in God (“Ockham’s razor”). Ultimate priority is placed by Ockham upon the divine Will and its absolute omnipotence. It is the divine will that plays the largest part in creation and not the actualising of divine  Ideas.  

            This means that for Ockham  God does not follow or ‘obey’ a truth that pre-exists him. Just as he creates everything, he creates the truth. Truth issues from his Will. There are no necessary truths except himself. All created realities are contingent. One cannot know the link between realities according to an order of necessary relation. For instance the cause-effect relationship is never necessary.  No entity A implies the necessary existence of entity B. The only thing one can know is that B regularly follows A.  Ockham anticipates Hume’s radical empiricism. All truths about the real world are a posteriori, never a priori. There can be no rational knowledge of reality but only an empirical knowledge, no necessary truths but only contingent truths, no truth before, but only truth after. However one can speak of necessary truths, not in the real world, but in propositions and the link between the terms of propositions.  

          3. Ockham destroys the synthesis of faith and reason won by the scholastics. He precludes reason from achieving truth and certainty and only faith remains. A supremely omnipotent God undermines any necessity in the world and also any real intelligibility, leaving the human only faith.  

            Ockham's intention was to safeguard the dignity of God from limits placed on the divine freedom as a result of the interjection of Greek philosophy into Christianity. Consequently, he rejects notions such as the inherent rationality of the cosmos, the rational limits of God's power, and the positive role of reason in discovering and relating to this rational order are shunted aside.

            Ockham’s God is omnipotent but perhaps arbitrary, he is free but perhaps nonsensical, he is independent but perhaps unknowable. God has become hyper-transcendent, or virtually meaningless to the human truth-seeker and faith alone provides any certainty.  

    * See Campbell, Richard, Truth and Historicity, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992, p.153-169


    ODEN Thomas *

    ( American Methodist theologian, b. 1931)


    Most dialogues are a diversion, a pretension of searching for truth.   

        Lowercase orthodox believers are not seeking a debating society that would aspire to be a religious version of the United Nations. They do not see organic union as the final objective, especially if that objective is reduced to rhetorical evasion and organizational tinkering. What they want to see is the living confession of Jesus Christ transforming human, personal, and social experience. Wherever they see that, they know instantly from the heart their deep affinity with it. Wherever they don’t hear that, they know inwardly how alien and distant are these temptations.

    The seductions of dialogue typically draw believers toward subjective feelings, mutual congratulation, and institutional horse-trading. They thrive on negotiation or arbitration models of interaction. They thereby draw us far away from the truth that is declared in Jesus Christ in whom all believers are called to participate by faith. So it should not be surprising that classic Christian believers tend to regard undisciplined dialogue as a temptation…

    Confessing Christians have a long history of experience with the frustration and futility of such undisciplined dialogue not ordered under the written Word. It less often leads to the question of truth than to the question of how we “feel,” and how we can accommodate or negotiate our competing interests. That is different from the question of truth announced in the gospel, which alone engenders the unity of believers.

    If the central question of Christian unity for classic Christian believers is the truth of the gospel, then the apostolic testimony made known in Jesus Christ is the first step toward unity. All other dialogue, however altruistic it may appear, is truly a diversion, a pretension of searching for truth, a ruse that substitutes narcissistic talk for integrity. What seems an innocent and generous invitation to dialogue actually amounts to a disposed predetermination to replace the truth question with what we “feel” about our own experience. In this way dialogue becomes an instrument of manipulation already shaped by the wrong premises. Global orthodox believers seek unity in the truth, no unity apart from truth, not unity as a substitute for the truth, but unity in the truth of the revealed Word.                                                                                                                                   


    ODHNER Ormond *

    (Contemporary Swedenborgian American theologian)


    One source of truth: the Word, but two foundations of truth: natue and the Word


    Are there two sources of truth, nature and the Word; or are there merely two foundations of truth, and only one source, the Word or revelation? Revelation is not given to disclose what man can discover on his own. Nor am I even speaking of what is called  a natural truth, "Thou shalt not kill." You do not need revelation to learn that, either. The only revelation part about that truth is that it is a Divine truth, and not just a civil or a moral truth. But is there any other source of truth - any other source of a sight of the Lord's Divine love taking form on the various planes of life - than the Word, and the Word alone?

    There are two foundations of truth, one from the Word, the other from nature. The foundation from the Word is for heaven and for those who are in the light of heaven. The foundation from nature is for those who are natural and in natural light. But these two foundations of truth agree with one another.

    No truth can be founded upon scientifics unless it first be founded upon the Word. But there are two foundations of truth: nature, for those in the light of the world, and the Word, for those in the light of heaven.

    I believe, it is scientific and natural truths, in this broad sense of the term, that must be used as a foundation of truth for those who doubt the Word - a foundation to open up for them the internal sense of the Word, which is never in conflict with genuine scientific and natural truths. And, indeed, such a founding of celestial and spiritual truths in natural truths must exist .

    There is, then, only one source of truth, only one source of a sight of the Lord, and that source is the Word of God. There are, however, two foundations of truth, nature, or the truths of nature, and the Word. For those who believe the Word, truth may be founded or based on its literal teachings. But for those who doubt or deny the Word as it is in its letter, natural truth - the genuine truths of philosophy, science, and experience - must be the foundation, and by those truths such persons must be led to see the genuine truth that is in the internal sense of the Word, with which genuine natural truth can never disagree.


    *See Internet Odhner Ormond


    OGDEN Schubert *

    (Contemporary American Methodist theologian)

    The truth of Christian salvation does  not a priori  exclude the

    possibility of the truth of other religions: the “fourth” option.

          In the theological debate about  the truth-value of religions – whether exclusivism, inclusivism or pluralism – Ogden maps out his own option, which he calls the “fourth option”. The two first versions of exclusivism  and inclusivism, which Ogden designates “Christian monism” (Christianity alone is the true religion)  are long ceased to be credible by the standards of common reason and experience. As for the arguments so far deployed by pluralists they do not stand up to scrutiny. For several religions to be true, they must show substantial similarities, but that is far from being the case. Besides the great difficulty with pluralism is to avoid a descent into mere religious relativism. Dissatisfied with the three ‘classical’ views,  Ogden proposes a fourth option.                 First, Ogden breaks with Christian monism and to do so he does not hesitate to make a crucial christological shift.  Instead of supposing that the possibility of salvation is constituted by the event of Jesus Christ (a constitutive christology) one must acknowledge that it is grounded rather in the unbounded love of God for humanity. The possibility of salvation – and hence religious truth - is not constituted, but is rather represented by Christ (a representative  christology). On this ground we may legitimately grant that both Christianity and other religions as they represent the primordial love of God can be formally and materially true. But the problem whether any religion validly represents God’s primordial love cannot be determined a priori.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Ogden’s argument is not and is not meant to be an argument for the truth of other religions but only for the possibility that other religions be true. In this way he distinguishes his own view from the pluralists’ claim that other religions are in fact true. He only says that they can be true. At the same time he distances himself from Christian monism: the Christian way of making the case is not the privilege of Christians. Hindus or Buddhists can rightly make a similar case for themselves. Ogden has thus marked out a genuinely distinct option – the fourth option – in the contemporary discussion of the “theology of religions”. His argument can be stated as follows: if the Christian claim to truth is valid, there is at least one true religion, but there could  be many as well.                                                                                                                                                                                                     The logical basis for Ogden’s fourth option is his view on a representative, rather than constitutive christology. Whereas constitutive christology leads to Christian monism (in its exclusivist or inclusivist form), representative christology does not close the door to the possibility for other religions than Christianity to be true. At the same time his fourth view avoids the relativistic – and dogmatic - viewpoint of the pluralist position which declares a priori that all religions are true. Thus his position stands between the extreme contrary positions of exclusivism and pluralism. It is close to pluralism just as inclusivism, in its way, is closest to exclusivism. But it is also close to inclusivism, still instead of “monistic inclusivism”, one could appropriately speak of the fourth option as “pluralistic inclusivism”. One should say neither that only one religion is true nor that all religions are true. One should say that if one religion is proved to be true, other religions could be true as well – because God’s ways of salvation are unfathomable. The truth of the Christian way of salvation does not a priori exclude the truth of other ways.

    * Ogden, Schubert, Is there Only One True Religion or are There  Many? Dallas, Southern Methodist University Press, 1992


    OLSON Roger E. *

    (Contemporary American Christian theologian)


    To prefer power (hierarchy) to truth is always wrong


    Christians claim to be concerned with and committed to truth. And yet they betray that concern and commitment when they insist on hierarchy. Hierarchical Christians, like all hierarchical people, show by their organizational theory and behavior a preference for power and control over truth. Hierarchy is the manner of organization of a social unit  so that assigned roles matter more than truth. Hierarchy is more than an organizational flow chart. Hierarchy exists where a person’s authority over others is independent of truth. A social unit, organization, can have leadership without hierarchy. Hierarchy is when the leadership’s power over those led is independent of accountability to truth. Hierarchy naturally inclines toward abuse because of the human fallen nature. Its social structure encourages abuse and subjects truth to power-over. For instance in history the Galileo affair is a clear case of truth being trumped by power, i.e., hierarchy.

    When a person in a position of authority is manifestly wrong and a person under his or her authority is manifestly right, true authority belongs, in that instance, with the “underling.” For a Christian, especially, to assert the “rightness” of the authority of the person in the wrong just because he or she holds a position, is a betrayal of truth. It is the job of all lovers of truth to hold others, including those higher in the “chain of command,” accountable to truth.

    A good biblical example is Peter and Paul at Antioch. Peter was over Paul in the early Christian “flow chart.” And yet Paul stood up to him and criticized him when he refused to eat with gentile converts. The truth was on Paul’s side. In a hierarchy Peter would have been considered functionally right even if truth was on Paul’s side.

    Many people, including many Christians, prefer hierarchy to truth because hierarchy makes things more orderly, controlled and predictable. Authority-as-truth can be messy. But anything else is a form of idolatry  because God and truth are inseparable. To prefer power to truth is always wrong.

    Truth matters more than anything else—even love. Ephesians 4:15 does not say “Let love over ride truth.” It says “speaking the truth in love….” This does not mean license to hate! It means that love should never allow truth to be denied. Love may hide the truth for a while, depending on how important the truth is. But truth that matters to the well-being of people, whether individuals or communities, must not be set aside but communicated in a spirit of love.


    *  Olsen Roger "Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities" Kindle Edition, 2006


    OLSSON Erik *

    (Contemporary Swedish philosopher)


     Coherence cannot possibly be a truth-conducive property


    It is tempting to think that, if a person's beliefs are coherent, they are also likely to be true. Indeed, this truth-conduciveness claim is the cornerstone of the popular coherence theory of knowledge and justification. But Erik Olsson argues that the value of coherence has been generally overestimated; it is severely problematic to maintain that coherence has a role to play in the process whereby beliefs are acquired or justified. He proposes that the opposite of coherence, i.e. incoherence, can still be the driving force in the process whereby beliefs are retracted, so that the role of coherence in our enquiries is negative rather than positive.

    Olson argues that coherence cannot be truth conducive unless the information sources providing the cohering information are individually credible and collectively independent. He focuses on attempts to show that coherence is "truth-conducive", meaning that the coherence of a belief system contributes to its probability of being accurate. Ultimately, he finds that a high degree of coherence cannot secure a high probability of truth, nor does greater coherence in general imply a greater likelihood of truth.

    Olson rejects the attempts to justify external-world beliefs solely on the basis of coherence, without the need for individual credibility. And once we grant individual credibility to some external world beliefs, we have abandoned a central motivation for coherentism.

    Taking truth-conduciveness as essential to the concept of coherence, Olson concludes that coherence does not exist. One might say that while coherence exists, it cannot satisfy the epistemological hopes that made us interested in it.


    * Erik Olsson, Against Coherence: Truth, Probability, and Justification, Oxford University Press, 2005, 248pp,






    (Indian Hindu monk, ,1929-2000)


    Intuition as the only method of discerning the Truth


    Intuition is the only method of an approach to, and the experience of, the divine Reality. The ultimate source of all proofs is direct apprehension. Neither the scriptures, nor the spiritual souls, can externally offer us the intimate knowledge and experience of the Reality, which must come only through an act of the inner Self in us, that sees Itself when the mind is undisturbed, unprejudiced, silenced, made calm and pure.

    Intuition is the only way by which the Absolute can be realized and experienced in all its totality and integrity. The mortal, finite, limited senses and the intellect, cannot comprehend the Reality which is immortal and all-pervading.

    The realization of God is possible only through intuition. It is in intuition that everything becomes clear, all doubts vanish in toto. In contrast to mediate knowledge, intuition is immediate knowledge, direct and integral. Through intuition, the aspirant perceives the truth of things without the aid of reasoning or analysis.

    The Kathopanishad declares, "This knowledge is not to be obtained by argument, but it is easy to understand it when taught by a teacher who beholds no difference"; "The sages, with their body, senses and mind tranquil, realise that Truth; but when it is overwhelmed with dry reasoning, it vanishes".

    The age of ancient philosophy was an age of intuitional perception, an age in which intuitional experience was the guarantee of Truth. The modern period is an age of the questioning, critical and analytical spirit, an age in which the guarantee of truth is the test of sense-perception. Anything which one can perceive through one's sense-organs is accepted as the reality, and everything which the senses cannot perceive is rejected as unreliable. Thus, many a precious factor of the ancient world cultural heritage has been rejected, and set aside as superstition.

    Modern mind must come to realize that, in fact, intuition and intuitive discernment form the only true touchstone of philosophy. Ultimately, the method of intuition is the only method of discerning the Truth. Without developing intuition, the intellectual remains imperfect and blind to the Truth behind the appearances. In the light of the developed intuition, all other philosophies seem to be nothing more than so many systems built on interesting table-talks, funny essays, humorous attempts in the game called "blindman's buff"!


    * See Internet Swami Omkarananda


    OORD Thmoas Jay *

    (American theologian and philosopher, b.1965) 


    Truth for the postmodern Christian    Christian apologists  react to postmodernism by declaring that God is truth.  They quote the biblical passage saying that Jesus is the truth.  Or they contrast postmodernism with Biblical Truth . But does postmodernism require rejecting truth?

    Postmodern Christians can live faithfully between the absence of absolute certainty and the abyss of extreme relativism.  This middle ground promotes both humility and conviction.

    Postmodernists reject the idea that we can know with absolute certainty the full truth about reality.  Absolute certainty requires inerrant sense perception.  It requires a set of inerrant ideas.  Or it requires inerrant interpretation of an inerrant source.  Such inerrancy does not exist.

    This lack of absolute certainty about the full truth of reality, however, is not bad news for Christians.  After all, faith resides at the heart of the Christian message.   Christians are believers not proposition defenders.

    Faith is different from absolute certainty.  But it’s different from absolute mystery too.  Faith need not be blind or unreasonable.  To believe is not to reject reason or evidence altogether.  One can affirm a degree of confidence in the greater plausibility of statements, ways of living, or perceptions.  And this greater confidence can foster reasonable conviction.  Faith can be grounded.

    Postmodernists recognize that we cannot comprehend truth entirely.  We see through a glass darkly.  And this inability to be absolutely certain or to know reality fully should lead us to humility.We can  sin through pride by thinking we have full and certain knowledge.  We forget that the just live by faith.  Postmodernism can foster the virtue of humble living.

    In sum, postmodernists need not reject truth.  But postmodernism reminds us that “we know in part.”  Christian convictions embraced in humility can help us live abundant life in our emerging world.


    *See Internet, Thomas Jay Oord



    OPOKU Kofi Asare *

    (Contemporary American professor of African Traditional Religions and Cultures)


    "Truth is like a baobab tree; one person's arms cannot embrace it" (African proverb)


    Protagonists of religious traditions which lay exclusive claim to divine revelation have tended to regard Africa as a blankly barren land, waiting to be planted and watered with the heavenly seeds of truth which are found in their particular religious traditions. The zeal to evangelize left no room to accommodate local religion-cultural traditions which were deemed to be palpably wrong and had to be done away with. And to drive home the point that truth and error could not coexist, cultic symbols, shrines and sacred groves were destroyed.

    The close identification of the Gospel with the self-image of its propagators led to the unquestioning conviction that God had clearly and decisively acted in their history, and that they were under divine obligation to bring others, in whose history God had apparently not acted, into the arena of this salvation history.

    The relationship between the Gospel and local traditions was considered to be that of total discontinuity, which tended to severely and fastidiously limit God's revelatory activity to one event. But to recognize continuity between the Gospel and other traditions is to accept the fact that in no human history has God been absent; and that God could not be dormant in one historical place or period and active in another.

    Such hardened positions led to the strenuous efforts at converting others and ignored the possibility of human error in the appropriation of divine revelation or truth. Human understanding was invested with a degree of absoluteness which is out of step with our finiteness; and it was almost as if the arms of Christianity alone could completely embrace the baobab tree of divine truth, and that God's thoughts had to coincide with human thoughts.

    The existence of a plurality of religions is not to be interpreted as a failure on the part of those who have the truth to carry out their divine mission to bring all humankind into the fold. Nor does this point to the hardness of the hearts of other people. On the contrary, it expresses the spirit of God which blows "where it listeth". And to insist on the same response to the experience of God's spirit is to argue for a uniformity which refuses to respect differences.

    There is need to go beyond the acceptance of religious plurality to a stage where each religious tradition will bear witness to its faith by doing worthy deeds, and express rivalry, not in contentious disputations about who is right and who is wrong, but by striving to undo each other in improving the lot of humankind, in enhancing the quality of human life and in doing what is good.


    * Opoku Kofi Asare , see Internet


    OPPY Graham *

    (Australian philosopher, b. 1960)

    To be true theistic beliefs must be successful, that is, able to convince all reasonable non-theists

    Oppy  affirms the rationality of theistic belief, as well as non-theistic beliefs. He thinks that theists can and do have reasons which make it rational for them to believe that God exists. Those reasons may take the form of the various theistic arguments. But while those arguments may render the theist's belief in God rational, still they are not successful arguments because they are not to be considered convincing by all reasonable non-theists. An analogous claim can, in Oppy's view, be made about anti-theistic arguments as well. As his emphasis of the world "successful" signals, Oppy espouses an account of argumentation that includes a specific criterion for determining what counts as a successful argument. When should we say that an argument for a given conclusion is a successful argument?

        Oppy defends the view that, in circumstances in which it is well known that there has been perennial controversy about a given claim, a successful argument on behalf of that claim has to be one that ought to persuade all of those who have hitherto failed to accept that claim to change their minds. Since theism is undeniably a claim about which there has been perennial controversy, it follows that a successful theistic argument will be one that ought to persuade all atheists, agnostics, and innocents to change their minds. So, according to Oppy's account, a successful argument in general, and a theistic argument in particular, is one which ought to persuade all reasonable people who have reasonable views about the matter. So if we find that certain persons have not been persuaded by our argument, we have two options: we can conclude either that the people in question are not rational or else that our argument is a failure. This understanding of what constitutes a successful argument colors Oppy's treatment of theistic arguments. Since he wants to show that all such arguments are failures, he repeatedly responds to the arguments by claiming that this or that premise in the argument can be denied by a rational person.                                                                           Oppy  thinks that an argument is a failure unless it would or ought to persuade all reasonable persons to accept its conclusion.

     * Oppy Graham, Arguing about Gods, 2006. ISBN 0521863864.


    OPRAH Winfrey *

    (American TV actress and philantropist, b.1954)


    Truth lies deep within each of us as our highest self


    Oprah has evolved as one of the leading spokesperson regarding New Age philosophy and an effective evangelist for Postmodernism, a world view that allows the individual to accept truth on his own terms as it relates to his experience.  Regarding the source of truth, she makes this comment in defense of her newly discovered path to enlightenment, “Funny thing about truth: It’s something that lives deep within us, as surely as if it were written into the genetic code . . . when we pursue truth, we are searching for the universal. A Hindu principle teaches us, ‘Truth is one, paths are many.’ Which way is yours?”. This concept of truth lying deep within each of us as if it were our genetic code is likened to the idea that “God” resides within each of us as an inner guide to show us the way to all truth. There is one truth, but many ways to discover it. You may choose the Christian path; another may choose the Buddhist path, or the Hindu path. It makes little or no difference which path one chooses.” According to Oprah they all lead the inquirer to the same truth. God lies within you as your highest self.

    In one of her TV show in 1992 she made this observation, “If you go deeply enough into your mind, and deeply enough into mine, we have the same mind. The concept of a divine, or ‘Christ’ mind, is the idea that, at our core, we are not just identical, but actually the same being. ‘There is only one begotten Son’ doesn’t mean that someone else was it, and we’re not. It means we’re all it. There’s only one of us here.”


    See Internet, Oprah Winfrey


    ORIGEN of Alexandria *

    (Alexandrian biblical scholar, 185-254)

    The Bible is mostly allegorical and need not be taken as literal, historic truth.

    1.  Truth is natural, and the search for truth is a natural function of the Mind. God has planted in the heart a desire for Truth. As the eyes naturally seek the light and vision, and  bodies naturally desire food and drink, so the human mind is possessed with a natural desire to become acquainted with the Truth of God and the causes of things. Origen knew that God would never have given us this passion for Truth if our desire could not be satisfied.

    2. In Origen’s hometown, Alexandria, the philosophy of Plato was highly respected.  Plato's teaching was that earthly realities are manifestations of eternal realities known as Ideas or Forms.  Origen applied this concept to biblical stories and teachings, developing a "key" to interpret the deeper meanings of any biblical passage.  This allegorical method requires a lot of study and reflection.  Origen felt that although any passage can be interpreted literally, a mature Christian can go beyond that simple approach to the highest levels of truth, through allegory. 

           Drawing upon his understanding of Platonism which taught that beyond the visible world lay the spiritual world--of which all things here are an image and a reflection, Origen maintained that the primary purpose of Scripture was to convey spiritual truth. For Origen everything in the Bible reflected the spiritual order beyond the ordinary material world. Thus, for instance, Jerusalem, Zion, Carmel, and a host of other places, ceased to be geographical locations and expressions and became mirrors of heavenly truth.

           Thus Origen adopted the view that the Bible was mostly allegorical and need not be taken as literal, historic truth. In due time this view of the Bible as allegory was rejected as heresy. St Augustine headed the Church back towards a straightforward reading of Scripture--except for the book of the Revelation, which he considered allegorical.

    * Origen, On First Principles, tr. G.W. Butterworth, New York: Harper and Row, 1966




    (Spanish philosopher, 1883-1955)

    Truth can be seen only from individual points of view

         The kernel of Ortega's views is his metaphysics of 'vital reason' and his perspectival epistemology. He identifies reality with "my life": something is real only insofar as it appears in "my life". "My life" is a synthesis between "myself" and "my circumstances": there is a dynamic interaction and interdependence of self and world. In adopting this view, Ortega wants to reduce the antinomy between idealism and realism. Pure reason must give way to  what he calls "vital reason". The life of something is its being; life is concrete, unique, spontaneous, in constant becoming. Art, culture, ethics are all  at the service of life.  

            Because every life is the result of an interaction between self and circumstances, every self has a unique perspective. Truth, then, is perspectival, depending on the unique point of view from which it is determined, and no perspective is false, except the one that claims exclusivity. Ortega's epistemology is  "perspectivist" in so far as it emphasizes the relative point of view in which reality is revealed to each individual. Every life has a certain vision of the universe. We all look at the same reality with different eyes. Our different perspectives are all true because based on reality. At the same time it is meaningless to declare "false" other views than one's own. The only false perspective is the one that claims to be unique. It is only in juxtaposing all the partial visions of every individual that one could reach a synthetic, universal and complete understanding of truth.

            Ortega is not a relativist: for him truth is  trans-subjective because transcendent reality exists. But man can perceive only parts of it; he is condemned to blindness of others. Each person, and each age, dips a mesh of perception through the running current of transcendent reality. The pieces of reality this mesh catches build a perspective. Far from disturbing reality, perspective is its organizing element.

            "Every individual-- person, people, epoch-- is an organ without substitute for the conquest of truth... the individual point of view seems to me the only point of view from which the world can be seen in truth."

    * Ortega y Gasset, Idées et Croyances, trd. J.Babelon, Paris, 1945


    OTTO Rudolph * *

    ( German philosopher and theologian,1869-1936)

     The experience of “numinous” feelings gives the immediate certainty  that this is a realization  of the deepest truth.

    Rudolph Otto, in ‘The Idea of the Holy’ claimed that every individual possesses the capacity to experience one and the same Object, the "Holy". For him, this experience is caused by the "sensus numinis", an innate sense of the divine implanted within the "pure reason" of each mind. This "sense" then operates independently of all sense perception. This is to say that within the psyche of each individual exists a unique faculty which intuits a wholly other Being which is both terrible yet alluring, an Object "mysterium tremendum et fascinans". Otto claimed  that all religions and faith mediate an authentic experience of salvation, since all religions of the world are equally the result of this innate sensus numinis.

           Rudolph Otto understands the sacred as the "Wholly Other," as a non-rational reality that is ‘numinous’ and beyond the self. For him the sacred is a mysterium tremendum et fascinans , an awful and dreadful, yet fascinating and attractive mystery. This sacred reality is not seen as a part of some thing else or reducible to some non-sacral quantity, but as being sui generis and not comprehensible in rational or ethical terms alone. For him the sacred has ontological reality, not just psychological impact, it is seen as transcendent and over against the profane.

            The   numinous    cannot    be   known    through ratiocination; awareness of it comes only through the feelings it  evokes. Otto contends  that  these  feelings  are  the only  media through which the numinous, or reality, can be known.  Words, concepts, reasoning, and rational thought are incapable of producing true experience of the wholly other, which can only be “firmly  grasped, thoroughly understood, and  profoundly  appreciated, purely  in, with, and from the feeling itself.”

            His ‘Idea of the Holy’ is not intended as a philosophical treatise proving the existence  of the numinous;  rather it is an apology  for  the intuitive  element  of religious experience.  Otto does  not intend  to persuade  the unconvinced with his arguments. His words are offered only to kindred spirits, those whose innate capacity for  the numinous  has  been  awakened, for  whom  he eloquently  verbalizes  the  experience  of the holy, “the feeling which remains where the concept  fails.”  Otto invites the reader “to direct his mind to a moment of deeply-felt  religious experience, as little as possible qualified  by other forms  of  consciousness.  Whoever cannot  do  this, whoever  knows no such moments  in his experience, is requested  to read no further.” It is his purpose then, to  “suggest this  unnamed  Something  to  the reader as far as we may, so that he may himself  feel it.”

            The numinous is “something  which  the  ‘natural’  man  cannot, as such,   know   or   even   imagine,   “  and   no “intellectual,     dialectical      dissection     or justification  of  such  intuition  is  possible, nor indeed should any be attempted, for the essence  most peculiar  to  it  would  be  destroyed  thereby.” Rather, the numinous must be directly experienced to be understood. Once   experienced, there   need  not  be  doubt concerning  the validity  of these numinous  feelings for they are a priori  by which  Otto means  that “as soon as an assertion  has been clearly expressed  and understood, knowledge  of its truth  comes  into  the mind with the certitude of first-hand  insight.”

         In   short, religious   experience   is  autonomous, self-validating, and infallible.  When the  numinous feelings  that Otto describes  are experienced, there is immediate certainty that this is a realization  of  the deepest truth; religious experience “represents a perception which provides its own evidence.”

    *Otto Rudolph, The Idea of the Holy, Oxford University Press, 1923




    (Conteporary American pastor)


    The doctrine of original sin is the denial of  self-evident truths


        There are certain self-evident truths, direct perceptions of reason, known to be true to all men. A thing cannot both be and not be. Two contradictory things cannot both be true. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The whole cannot be greater than the sum of its parts. Every effect must have a cause. A creation implies a creator. Moral character is non-transferable. There are no proxies in morals. Sin cannot be imputed where it does not exist without injustice. Perfect justice cannot punish the innocent for the guilt of another. Sin is personal and non-transferable. Now all of the above truths are known intuitively. They do not need to be proved. They are direct perceptions of reason, and cannot rationally be denied by any man.

    But the doctrine of original sin does deny self-evident truths. It denies the self-evident truth that there can be no proxies in morals and teaches that Adam committed sin for us by proxy. It denies that moral character is non-transferable and teaches that Adam's sinful character was transferred to all his descendants! It denies that sin cannot be imputed where it does not exist without injustice and teaches that the infinitely holy and just God imputed the sin of Adam to all his descendants. It denies that perfect justice cannot punish the innocent for the guilt of another and teaches that God, who is perfect in truth and justice, condemned the whole human race for the sin of Adam.

    To say that the doctrine of original sin is unreasonable is a profound understatement. There really never has existed a doctrine so unreasonable, so absurd, and so ridiculous as this doctrine. It is not only absurd, it is plain superstition to believe that we sinned in Adam thousands of years before we were born and began our existence. No man can torture his consciousness into affirming that he existed and sinned thousands of years before he was born. To believe that man's flesh can be inherently sinful and that men can be born sinners is gross superstition. The whole dogma of original sin is a monstrous superstition and a fantastic fiction that is fit only for the pages of some wild science fiction novel.

    The Scriptures never teach anything which our consciousness and moral nature declare to be false, unjust, or impossible. The fundamental truths of Christianity cannot be in manifest contradictions to reason, reality, and justice. And yet the original sin dogma does contradict man's reason, man's knowledge of reality, and man's irresistible convictions of justice. 


    *Overstreet Alfred, Are men born sinners?: The myth of original sin, Paperback – 1 Jan 1995






    OWEN John *

    (English non-conformist theologian, 1616-1683)


    The Holy Spirit leads people into all truth concerning the mysteries of God’s kingdom


    Owen explains Jesus’ saying, ‘When he, the Spirit of truth. has come, he will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He is truth essentially in himself, and he is the one who leads the church into all truth. But what does Jesus mean by ‘all truth’? He does not mean ‘all truth’ absolutely. The Holy Spirit’s work is not to lead us into all historical, geographical, astronomical and mathematical truth. The Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of God, of the gospel, of the counsel of God about the salvation of the church by Christ.

    It is not an external guidance into all truth by the objective revelation of truth that is meant, for this kind of revelation is not granted to all believers, nor are believers to look for such revelations. And the revelation of truth by the preaching of the gospel is not what is meant, since this is common to all the world and not subject to any special promise.

    So it is the internal teaching of the Holy Spirit, giving an understanding of the mind of God and of all revealed sacred truths, which is intended. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth by giving us that understanding of it which we ourselves are not able to arrive at. All spiritual, divine, supernatural truth is revealed in Scripture. To come to know and to rightly understand this truth in Scripture is the duty of all, according to the means which each enjoys and the duties which are required from them. To make this possible the Holy Spirit is promised to them. Of ourselves, without his special assistance and guidance we cannot arrive at a true knowledge or a right understanding of the truth revealed in Scripture.

    Believers may be ignorant of the doctrine of some truths, and may have little knowledge of anything, yet they shall know the mind and will of God as revealed in Scripture, in order that they may believe to righteousness and make confession to salvation. Believers ‘do not need that anyone should teach them’. This refers only to the essential truths of salvation, of being ingrafted in Christ and abiding in Christ. Believers need not depend on the light and authority of the teachings of men. None can be lords of our faith.

    The great promise of the New Testament is that all believers shall be ‘taught by God’. No man is self-taught in sacred things. Who will the Holy Spirit teach? He will teach those who are meek and humble, those who give themselves to continual prayer, meditation and study in God’s Word day and night, and those who strive to conform their lives to the truths he instructs them in.


    * See John Owen: The Man and His Theology. ISBN 0-87552-674-8. Robert W. Oliver, ed. (2002).




    Jean Mercier