Thursday, February 01, 2007

knowing anything

I like the phrase, "a chastened epistemology". This phrase suggests that whatever we "know" is mediated in our experience. So that our knowledge has to do with perception of reality. And this is enculterated, or affected by our upbringing, education, etc. As well as by our perspective.

God alone experiences unmediated reality. God knows all, firsthand. Humans are subject to "lenses" that color and affect, all we see. This is why, as Calvin suggested, humans need the lens of Scripture, to begin to see the world and themselves, as God does. To really know anything in that way requires something beyond our natural, God-given abilities.

By faith we understand, or know (Hebrews 11). This knowledge, then, is dependent on God, and on our relationship to God and his Word. As we respond to that word, in faith, we begin to know in a way that we otherwise would not know, and maybe only get a glimpse of.

Paul says that knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (or, builds up). And that if someone thinks they know anything, they really don't, but if anyone loves God, then they are known by God (1 Corinthians 8). The context there is about the stronger believer offending and hurting the weaker believer. Their "knowledge" is lacking, in God's eyes. This really, in a general way, goes across the board in our perceived knowledge about anything. If we don't proceed with love, then we're knowing, in a distorted way, that really amounts to not knowing at all.

Is our knowing driven with a passion to live in "the Jesus Creed"? To love God and our neighbor. If not, then it really amounts to nothing.

This does not mean we shouldn't study Scripture, read good books, and be a student of God's world and story, as well as how we fit into it. Paul made it clear that he was knowledgeable. But we need to seek the kind of knowing that is pleasing in God's eyes. That knows so as to follow, and live in the good will of God, at work in the world.

What knowledge would you add to this?


julie said...

Great thoughts on knowledge! I'm certain it's overrated. (My last post was about a similar topic)

andre said...

Could it be as simple as -
"Knowing is for Doing"...the purpose of gaining knowledge is for application of knowledge.

Granted, easier said than done.

Ted Gossard said...

Julie, I like your post. Great points.

It's certainly overrated in the way we understand it. I was just looking at a book this evening (LeRon Shults) that really brings out what the heart of knowing is, in Scripture. It's relational. And a far cry from the Enlightenment thinking which we're still trying to get rid of. Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Andre, I think it has alot to do with that. And it has alot to do with our experience. So that this doing/experience thing is really about living. Living well before God and others. And it's, at the heart, as I was reminded this evening (see previous comment), relational. Paul really does hit on that in 1 Corinthians 8.

RonMcK said...

Chastened epistomology is why we need our minds renewed in Jesus.

Andre and Julie
Knowledge without Doing and Doing without Knowledge are both dangerous.

Ted Gossard said...

Ron, Amen. So true.

I'm also thinking of Paul's point in 1 Corinthians 13:12:

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." NRSV