Four Hundred Texts on Theology (Third Century) 4

8.  If we perceive the spiritual principles of visible things we learn that the world has a Maker. But we do not ask what is the nature of that Maker, because we recognize that this is beyond our scope. Visible creation clearly enables us to grasp that there is a Maker, but it does not enable us to grasp His nature.

I think this is a particularly important point today. It is possible and reasonable to move to a position of general theism simply from our observation of the nature of reality. But that will not and cannot reveal the Father to us. We know the Father in and through the Son and to know the Son, we must experience his reality. Knowledge about him, even knowledge as revealed in the Holy Scriptures — even the Gospels themselves — is insufficient.

I’m drawing a mental blank on who said it, but I recently heard an excellent analogy. Picture the greatest modern authority on Abraham Lincoln. He’s read everything Abraham Lincoln wrote. He’s studied everything recorded by anyone who ever encountered Mr. Lincoln. There’s nothing about Lincoln that our hypothetical historian hasn’t uncovered, studied, and absorbed. He can safely say that he knows more about the 16th President than any other living person. Such a man would still not know Abraham Lincoln as well as Mrs. Lincoln did. In fact, he would be in position to say something like, “From everything I know about Mr. Lincoln, he was a great man. I wish I could have known him.”

How do we know Jesus? Experientially and mystically. We know him through his body, the Church, particularly when we are joined to it in Baptism. We experience him when we eat his body and drink his blood. We mystically commune with him in prayer. We know him as a bride knows her bridegroom.

Our observation and study of the material realm is important. It’s something we are created to do. In certain instances and with some people, such study can help us perceive that their may be a Creator or Maker. (Or it may not. Both are reasonable positions.) But Christianity says our God became flesh, became one of us in every way, so that we could truly know him and commune with him in the most intimate way. I think too many people today settle for knowledge of God rather than knowing God.

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