Wednesday, November 15

Waxing Philosophical: Knowing God

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. --Romans 1:20 (NIV)

My knowledge of and belief in God--the one true God--comes as a result of what theologians have termed special revelation and general revelation.

People of faith for centuries before this millennium were called to put their hope in One who was unseen. Hebrews 11 gives an account of several examples of people who knew that God existed and behaved faithfully in response to that belief. Some of them had their faith bolstered by special revelation, which is how God reveals himself to mankind in a way that is not part of every day common occurrences. Hearing the voice of God for example, as Noah did when commanded to build the ark, was a form special revelation.

As a believer in modern times, I am challenged to cling to faith in a Savior who is no longer walking and talking among us in the physical sense. However, I do have the benefit of general revelation. General revelation is probably what Aristotle was talking about when he applied the philosophy of empiricism, which defines all knowledge as coming via the senses. I imagine that understanding and believing in the Divine must be difficult for empiricists since they would likely need to see, feel, hear or touch something before it would be real to them. I wonder if the Jesus' disciple, Thomas, was an empiricist.

I walk by faith and not by sight. In doing so I accept the reality, character and nature of God to be something outside my grasp. I am finite, therefore I cannot comprehend that which is infinite. My brain simply does not compute such a thing. Even with God's inspired Word, I must grapple with faith and hope that will not be completely fulfilled on this side of eternity.

Awareness of God is not something I could have attained solely by natural means. I believe that I am able to recognize God and demonstrate faith in him because the Holy Spirit continually tunes my heart to do so. The part of my psyche that longs for this universe to make sense demands that there be a creator God and that he be greater than anything I could hope to comprehend. In my soul I know that God is real and that he exists in infinite time and space. Anything I know about God, any awareness or understanding I have of him is because he has chosen to reveal himself to me as he sees fit.

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