Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Disclosure of God: Human Perception

Do we actually, can we actually know anything about God? It depends of course by what one means by the phrase and the particulars that make it up. Although it is usually helpful to define terms at the start of a discussion, when it comes to the subject of God, I do not believe we can start with defining terms. Hopefully, the reason will be apparent in the next few paragraphs. Since I would, nonetheless, like to start exploring the subject, a tentative definition for "God" is in order.

God is the ultimate. God is the ultimate source for all that is, the ultimate power that energizes and sustains it, the ultimate intellect that designed and directs it. I would think it would be impossible for all that is not to betray some intelligence concerning the nature of what is ultimately behind it. That is the sentiment behind the Apostle's words to the church at Rome. Creation has fingerprints all over it, which betray the perpetrator who created it. Paul said, in fact, the evidence is quite clear, so much so that ignorance of God is inexcusable.

That would be well and good and portend an excellent potential for a worldwide, common understanding of God, but its downfall is that it still is dependent upon the eyes of the beholder. Different presumptions will be brought to the task, and different assumptions inferred from the evidence. The evidence may be plain enough in hindsight, or divine sight, but the perception of the viewer will mean the difference between message sent=message received or error. We can say at least that much about man, regardless of what we know about God.

Actually, I think we can say a bit more. Man seems a very imperfect creature when it comes to perception; conclusion; decision. We are error prone, we are limited. What would be the likelihood that such a creature could accurately plumb the greater depth behind the surface of things? We are the surface in a matter a speaking, getting to the truth behind ourselves would entail a dizzying loop, like staring down the endless hall of images in parallel mirrors. Might as well try bottling the wind.

It seems to me, what we need is an active witness from the One behind it all, a personal commentary on the evidence he left behind--like watching a director's cut, with explanatory notes straight from the horse's mouth. We would then have a definitive statement on the subject that dispelled all the flowery tripe of the artsy-fartsy pundits. What we need, then, is self-disclosure from God. In fact, I would posit, we stand no chance whatsoever of knowing anything about God with any certainty apart from it.

And even that, is not enough.

4 comments:

  1. I believe, even in eternity, that we will never be able to grasp the infinite God nor will we ever understand His ways or come close to His knowledge. That is why He is God and that is why I am grateful to Him for revealing His love to us in His Son (John 20:30-31; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).

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  2. Roy,
    Just to play Devil's advocate: how do you see 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; John 17:22-26 playing into your view concerning eternity?

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  3. I think Ephesians 3:14-20 is worth a close examination. Read literally, Paul is praying that the Ephesians receive a direct revelation of God's Love for them that seems to require that one's "Inner Man" be strengthened by the Spirit, and which results in us being "filled with all the fullness of God." In a sense, God has to "reengineer" our minds, and maybe our physical brains to handle this revelation. Lest his readers (and us) doubt that such a thing will be done for us, Paul points out that God is able to do "exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us." One wonders if Jesus spent the 40 days in the wilderness for the sole purpose of grasping the revelation that He was God's Beloved Son (and loved accordingly). Such a revelation of love must have triggered the ability to work the miraculous, and thus accounts for the nature of two of the three wilderness temptations!

    Here's the real problem: Ephesians 3:20 virutally guarantees that whenever God "cuts loose" and really does something as extraordinary as a direct disclosure of His love or some other aspect of himself, it will be bigger than our ability to grasp it. What do we do when faced with something we don't understand? What do "heresy hunters" and "truth monitors" do when confronted with something claimed to come from God that they don't understand because, by coming from God, it is bigger than their understanding? They do the same thing the pharisees did with Jesus. They will play it safe and call it "self-deception", or "of the devil" if any real power is deployed.

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  4. Gerald,
    Thanks for the comment. I didn't know what to say in response, so I "saved" it for later, then it slipped my mind. Sorry for such a late reply.

    The initial paragraph is very speculative. I don't think there is anyway for anyone else to "amen" it, since it doesn't naturally arise out of what is revealed in scripture.

    As for the second paragraph, I can agree that displays of power make people nervous, especially those that have an interest in maintaining the status quo. Would you not agree that any display of power or revelation should fall within the framework of what is already revealed in scripture?

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