Closing Loops: How to Think Christianly From a Unity of Knowledge Rather than Profanely From a Duality of Knowledges

Let me double down on some comments I made in my last post (you’ll have to go to the comment thread to read). Philosophy and Theology, in my approach, are two distinct things; as such my theory of knowledge/epistemology is going to necessarily start with a theological ontology (thus repudiating philosophy proper as a non-starting mode for Christian intellection). My theory of knowledge with reference to God, and thus all of reality implicated, will start with the doctrine of the primacy of Jesus Christ and his antecedent reality as the Logos asarkos in the Triune life. In other words, the ‘ground’ of knowledge, for me, is rooted in the reality that creation’s inner reality is the covenant of God’s gracious life to not be God without us but with us; as such, there isn’t a speckle of creation that moves and breathes outwith God’s breath and domain in Christ. These commitments necessarily supplant any notion of naturum purum (pure nature), or of abstract human agents as ontic units of their own. In other words, human agents, in my view, because of my theological commitments have no Pelagian, no morally neutral position from whence they might  find capaciousness to cognize; viz. from my view human beings either think from ‘the kingdom of darkness’ or ‘the Kingdom of the Son of His love’ (cf. Col. 1.13). Human agents, by definition vis-à-vis God are contingent dyadic (v monadic) beings who have an ontology (and thus regnant epistemology) outsourced to them either by God or by an incurved enslavement to a faux-possessed self. All of the above means that God’s Self-Revelation, God’s Self-Exegesis (cf. Jn 1.18) is the space wherein all genuine knowledge of the living God is given; given as pure gift, and gift over and again, moment by moment as the heart beats as the Spirit is shed abroad.

Let me close this brief précis by quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer (h/t Paul Hinlicky Paths Not Taken, p. 59):

The division of the total reality into a sacred and profane sphere, a Christian and a secular sphere, creates the possibility of existence in a single one of these spheres, a spiritual existence which has no part in secular existence, and a secular existence which can claim autonomy for itself and can exercise this right of autonomy in dealings with the spiritual sphere. The monk and the 19th century Protestant secularist typify these two possibilities . . . the modern age is characterized by an ever increasing independence of the secular in its relation with the spiritual . . . [even though] it is quite certain that [thinking in terms of two spheres] is in profound contradiction to the thought of the Bible and to the thought of the Reformation, which think of one world created and redeemed in Jesus Christ.[1]

I guess I’m finding it hard to shed my modern location. As such theologians who are cognizant of the challenges that the modern presents—even if that presentation is bankrupt—still impinges upon my own anxieties. Even so, while we often demarcate periods into periods it is not as if there aren’t common themes that dissect all periods of human being. Indeed, the Patristics fought the Hellenists by flipping the Hellenists on their heads even while using Hellenic forms to produce new forms as if there was a new world of resurrection where such sui generis forms were possible; a world where reversal of the old world has become normative. These sorts of paradigms have marched on throughout every period. Barth contra Kant represents an example of someone flipping the Teutonic on its head using it against itself; reifying its forms under the pressures found in the new creation and the eschatos of God’s life in Jesus Christ. These battles, for those involved actively in the church militant will continue. Why not become active?

 

 

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, trans. N.H. Smith (New York: Macmillan, 1978), 196-97.

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