I want to have a real knowledge of God, and so I look to Christ. This isn’t some cliché academic anecdote I am just throwing out there, it is for real. I know that for some people doing academic theology remains just that; a highly intellectualist endeavor that at the end of the day doesn’t ultimately penetrate their Christian walks, but instead pads their CVs. If that’s you, then the rest of this post will probably not mean much to you; in fact it might sound somewhat melodramatic to you, but I don’t really care, it isn’t.
When I say that I want to have a real knowledge of God I mean that; I truly want to know (not with hundred percent certainty of course, not without remainder in every possible way)–with all of the provisionality connoted–I want to know that I am engaging with the real God, the real God who is the Christian God, and not some sort of metaphysical philosophical construction papered over with traditional Christian God-language. So for me (as I am sure for most Christians of every stripe, ideally) having a real knowledge of God does not entail an academic approach to knowing God (even though many people who even read what I am writing here will say that my approach is too academic; of course I am not sure what their approach is), it entails a visceral, even palpable need for God. I don’t need an abstract God, and thus I don’t need a God in the abstract; I need a God who can “save” me. I don’t know about you, but I deal with sin on an ongoing basis (I have my pet sins you have yours), and I need to know a God who can get into that situation and radically change it. This is my first real problem in fact towards having a real knowledge of God; me. I get in the way over and again. But this is what I am talking about; I am not trying to be cute or novel, I am being serious right now. I don’t need a theoretical God, I need a God in the concrete who not only can deal with my first major problem at a depth level, and deal with it in such a way that he provides a remedy for it; but I also need a God who can continue to deal with this depth sin problem of mine in an ongoing and powerful way, and hopefully at the same time he will allow me to know him as he takes off my sinward blinders and puts new spectacles on me.
Thankfully, as some solid theology teachers have noted, this is exactly the kind of God we have been given in Jesus Christ. Not only does he deal with my sin problem (on a daily basis too), but in that very dealing (or reconciliation between myself and God), he reveals himself to me so that I can have a real knowledge of God from a center in himself in his Son, Jesus Christ.
What would I do without this real knowledge of God in Christ? I would be the worst of sinners, no doubt! I would be worse than I am now, which is pretty scary to be sure. Without the resurrection, which we just happen to be celebrating today; without the wisdom of the cross of Christ I could never hope to have a real knowledge of God. I am afraid some of this discussion, among the theological types, has become all too academic and abstract. It is hard to come across discussions about a knowledge of God that don’t quickly reduce into an academic argument say about “death of God” theology versus postmetaphysical theology versus social conceptions of God, etc. Sure, yes, these are all important things to discuss, but if we lose sight of their context (so that we can have a real knowledge of God), and if their context’s become enclosed upon themselves and self-referential ends, then it all becomes too abstract, and real knowledge of God gets lost in our pursuit of a theology of glory rather than a theology of the cross.
Not sure if any of this has made sense. But this is just me being bloggy, and reflecting as transparently as I can about stuff; and yes, maybe even this reflection has gotten too abstract (sorry about that!).