Musings from a Grateful Convert: So Who’s an Expert of Faith?

Musings from a Grateful Convert: So Who’s an Expert of Faith?

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“An Expert is a man with a briefcase who is more than fifty miles from home.”

This little saying came to my ears in my youth and seems popular today.

I was having lunch with a close friend the other day, and I remarked that a mutual friend of ours has a brother who is an expert in the field of mosquitoes. I quipped that on being asked if the world would be impacted negatively should all mosquitoes die, he said “No.”

To this my friend entered the comment that it might not be wise to trust this “expert”, even though neither one of us really knew whether he was indeed an expert—to my knowledge, neither one of us knows the guy personally or even his CV. Because of this, I took my friend’s comment to be a kind of “statement of faith” regarding experts in general.

I came away from this conversation pondering deeply my friend’s reaction to my seemingly innocent comment. I wanted to ask my friend, “Well, if experts should be distrusted, how can anybody be sure of anything? Could I go up to Joe Dad and tell him, “I don’t trust you as an expert in raising your children.”? And how about our Faith? How would you respond should someone challenge you with: “You say you believe Jesus Christ is God—do you consider yourself an expert” To be consistent, my friend would have to say something like, “Golly, I guess I could be wrong, I’m really not an expert.”

So who is an expert? Let’s check the Dictionary.com definition:

Expert:

  1. a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority: (e.g., a language expert.)

It seems to me that many who have grown up in the West are very distrustful of pretty much any authority (except perhaps their own).   The mix of Protestant “Reform” with Post-modern, existential thinking has seeped into many Christian corners in our time, and indeed, all authority is up for grabs—at the mercy of the “latest and greatest” development, “improvement” or “revelation”.

BTW, my friend referenced in this piece is himself an expert in a high-tech area of knowledge. His profound experience, which is not far short of a half-century in his field, qualifies him beyond any shadow of doubt.

And so, I would posit that just as in the case of “Heroes”, there are indeed “Experts”. Both Jesus and St. Paul used the term “expert” as it related to the Jews in those days. In the Orthodox Christian Church we have something called “Monasticism”. This is a lifestyle where the practitioner devotes himself/herself completely to the teachings of Christ in an environment almost totally devoid of the kinds of distraction with which those of us on the outside are afflicted daily.

The monks’ ascetic practices in most cases produces a wisdom and a peaceful demeanor that is so profound in many cases that outsiders who visit will remark of these characteristics, and historically, many have resorted to these experts for their counsel and even their clairvoyance.

I would consider these Christian disciples as “experts” for our purposes here, and indeed, as in the case of “Heroes”, through the fruit of their lives, they call us up from our present condition to a higher rung on the Ladder of Divine Ascent. I don’t think there is any argument that we should all have a high degree of skill and knowledge as pertains to our Faith. Perhaps we all should be experts.

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About author
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Roger Hunt

Born and raised in Indiana as the son of a doctor, the late Roger Hunt was gifted in writing, Roger devoted most of his talents in the field of music as composer, arranger, and producer of both live and recorded music since the 70’s. He created music (and various music-and-sound-related productions) for OCN and others; and, having converted to the Orthodox Faith in 2010, he enjoyed writing the blog series “Musings of a Grateful Convert” for The Sounding. May his Memory Be Eternal.