Saturday, March 06, 2010

A Guide to Basic Ideas: Post 1

There is an interesting article about Christians and postmodernism in the March 2010 First Things magazine. It inspired me to attempt a series of posts on reality and knowledge. None of the ideas in these posts will be new or original, but will attempt to synthesize and summarize common knowledge Christian thought on these issues from many sources.
How do we begin to describe the truth? How can we discover and catalogue the contents of the world of ideas? We cannot. To find out the order of things and see reality, we cannot start with any thing. We cannot start with seeking what we hope to find. We cannot lay a foundation of our own making. We cannot even start from the perspective of “we” or “I.”
That which is, that which was from the beginning, the word of truth. Before all else comes God. Nothing is more fundamental. As your eyes rely on light to see, your mind relies on God to think or know or reason. Nothing is more fundamental than God. In a sense, God cannot be proved because He is the most fundamental reality. All other reality depends on him for its being and purpose, its existence and definition, its context and relationships. God is before all else.
You may be wondering how can we accept what we cannot prove? You have no real choice in this matter if you want to know or prove or think or accept anything else. Whether you yield on this or not, all knowledge, reason, being and form depend on God. To deny Him is like claiming you do not believe in light. You go on seeing by the light anyway, and your rejection of the light can only hurt your efforts to improve your vision.
But then it is also the case you do not need proof of God because you already know He is. You know He is there whether you acknowledge Him or not. You always have. In fact, it was probably easiest for you to just accept He exists before you could think much or talk much about Him. Your mind has tried hard to pretend He is not there as you have grown into an adult and have wanted to be comfortable with doing more and more you knew was incompatible with Him.
Of course knowing God in any way is made possible by Jesus, the Messiah, and the second person of God. And there are different qualities of knowledge. Everyone knows God exists and knows more than enough about what God is like and what he wants for the purposes of everyday life. But you need to know Him, not just know He is there.
So, acknowledge that God is there – and is here. God is the center. God is the start and the end. God is the foundation and the capstone. Everything else depends on Him. As Augustine and Anselm said, we must believe in order to understand. But to know the goal cannot be knowing, the goal must be God Himself, just as God Himself is our starting place.

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