Monday, January 22, 2007

What’s the Difference Between Understanding and Believing?

Transcribed from A Veiled Reference, by Dr. John Niemelä, Professor of Hebrew and Greek at Chafer Theological Seminary.

I may understand an argument without understanding it to be true. What we’re seeking to do here is to differentiate what’s the difference between understanding something and believing it. If I understand something to be true, I have believed it. But if I understand how it’s supposed to work, but I don’t understand it to be the truth or the way something really happens, then the only kind of believing I can do there is “make-believe.” I can pretend for the purposes of discussion that something is true that I know is not true. Understanding doesn’t guarantee that I understand it to be true, but believing means I understand it to be true. Now I may understand something; I may be able to wrestle with it. But it is an advance on the thinking for me to understand it as true.