April 9, 2011

Thought for 04.09.11

It is arrogant to claim fully to know the mind of God when we do not even have a very good understanding of other people.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

12 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

An arrogant absurdity, indeed. And yet, a good many words have been spoken and written seemingly attempting to do just that.

Tim said...

For what man knows God's counsel, or who can conceive what our LORD intends? For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans. For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns. And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out? (Wisdom 9:13-16)

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Mimi.
Yes and Amen, Tim, I thought of that. Also of Jesus' words to Nikodemos, "If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?" Ultimately true wisdom begins with acknowledging the edge of one's knowledge!

Fred Schwartz said...

Tobias,
The conundrum for me is that God is limitless and so as soon as we try to speak about God we have limited God. Knowing that, how can any perosn claim to know the mind of God?

Erika Baker said...

... as both sides of every religious debate frequently say to each other...

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks Fred. It's the old "comprehending the incomprehensible" paradox.

Erika, a bit like the warring armies both convinced that God is with them and their cause is just, eh?

Paul (A.) said...

It isn't just arrogant; it is the very instantiation of taking the Lord's name in vain.

Erika Baker said...

I do feel a little uneasy about this.
We DO confidently claim to know a fair bit of God's mind. We have the 10 Commandments to guide us regarding the principles of living together he wants us to adopt.
We have Jesus' teachings of love in action to show us.

Yes, there are borderline issues and they tend to be the ones we squabble over endlessly.
Like whether same sex love comes under the heading of immoral sexual relations or committed marriage. But the reason we argue is BECAUSE we know broadly what God wants for us. We just have different interpretations of how to achieve that.

And when I am absolutely certain that God does not like the bonded labour of children, I really don't think I'm taking his name in vain.

Anonymous said...

Okay, if we can put aside fundamentalist abuses (and maybe some here can't), can we approach John 1:18 and begin the humble, yet confident, process of speaking because we have seen, and heard.

"No one has seen God at any time" it begins, but then goes on to say "the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." John 1:18 NAS

Whatever level of confidence you think there is in the New Testament about the possibility of a Christologically enabled way of speaking about God, it is a significant level that should IMHO move us out of certain comfortable forms of apophasis, that can masquerade as humility, and see how there has been a revelation, a self-identification of God on the world stage in Jesus, a certain overcoming of our limits, so that we can, and are commisioned to, speak and think, with, again, a strong level of confidence. Scandalous? Yes, but the scandal of the gospel.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Paul A.

Erika and Anonymous (please i.d. yourself even with a pseudonym; thanks) I think you are carrying my thought in directions I did not intend. Note the important word "fully" and also my intended contrast between claiming full knowledge of the supernatural while not even possessing anything approaching full knowledge of the natural! So I take both your points, which converge on the notion that God has revealed certain aspects of the mind and will of God, most especially in the person of Jesus. Folks, I'm not claiming we need to be agnostic, but am warning against a gnosticism that claims a full understanding of the divine.

Is that better...?

MarkBrunson said...

A similar thought, attributed variously to Confucius or Buddha, neither of whom chose to be pressed on matters of the Great Beyond:

If a man cannot know all there is in the world we can see, why ask about the world we cannot?

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Mark. It also reminds me of the legend of Augustine of Hippo and the angel by the seashore.