Re: Graber's "Truth": A Request from a Skeptic

Karla Poewe (kpoewe@ACS.UCALGARY.CA)
Sat, 18 Dec 1993 15:24:34 MST

Anthropologists have retained enough of a "scientific" attitude
to discover notions about the nature of "truth" and reality among
those whom we study. Here my research of African Independent
Churches and, especially, charismatic Christians worldwide may be
helpful. Evans-Pritchard, 1965, -- although talking about
believing and nonbelieving researchers -- pointed out that
"believers tend to explain how people conceive of, and relate to,
reality." In my study I included scientists who are charismatic
Christians. It became quite clear that both, Africans belonging
to AICs and these scientists, worked with an ontology and
epistemology which was both revelationist and realist in nature.
They assumed, in other words, the existence of one reality and
one truth independently of the observer -- or "knower." This
reality-cum-truth was, however, revealed to them piecemeal and in
sometimes culturally specific ways. Charismatics, in other words,
were non-relativistic in their ontology and epistemology but were
relativistic, not in how they know what they know, but in what
they know of the one truth-cum-reality at anyone time and
circumstance. I discuss all this and more in my forthcoming,
edited book, "Charismatic Tapestry: Charismatic Christianity as a
Global Culture," 1994, University of South Carolina Press. Karla
Poewe, E-mail: