This is the last part of a short piece I used as a pre-semester reading when I was co-teaching a seminary theology 101 course. The sections on theology are here and here, and the first two on creeds are here and here. this last one makes more sense in the context of what came before, but how you spend your time on the interwebs is up to you.
I once had a professor of contemporary American poetry that made clear the distinction between opinion and justification. To the topic of poetic interpretation he remarked – day one of the semester – something to the following effect:
I do not ever want to hear the phrase “I can't explain it, but that's just how I see it.” You are, of course, utterly entitled to your opinion about what a poem “means.” However, if your position cannot be articulated, justified, or supported, you should be clear that you are doing yourself no favors. Are you still entitled to maintain that opinion? Certainly, but know that you are divorcing yourself from any broader discourse and dialogue by clinging to the “wordless specialness” of your isolated sense of things. Will you make mistakes and oversimplifications in your analysis if you do try? Without a doubt. But if you do not at least attempt to flesh out your position, you should be under no illusion that others will give ear to your interpretation. In terms of this class, I am interested in hearing your opinion only in as much as it is paired with a justification that others can try on for themselves. Let people in to your way of seeing. Practice trying to get it worded right. Practice letting people in. That is what we will be doing here.