As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament again, I keep thinking about what it means to know God. Of course, knowing God as he is, is not possible – I don’t think. However, knowing him as he expresses himself in scripture is a pretty good clue to who and what he is.
There is empirical data that we can gather about God such as his acts, his statements, his revealed nature. Then there is experiential data that we can collect, what I and others claim to experience when it comes to our relationship and understanding of God. Neither of which is complete either alone or collectively. However it does give us a better picture of God.
Simply put, there are three basic positions when it comes to knowing and relating to God. One would be exasperating, this would be the position of the atheist. There is no god so quit promoting that idea. One would be confounding, this would be the position of the agnostic who holds that God is not knowable so pursuing such is an exercise in futility. Then there is the avenue of extolling, this of course would be the route most believers would take. Praising God for who he is and what he has done in their life through Christ.
As a believer, I suspect my approach to God should actually be somewhere between confounding and extolling. I can never really know him as he is, but I can extol him based on what I do know. Furthermore, as I progress in my faith, those avenues may run more parallel to one another rather than becoming divergent paths. As the editor of the Reformation Study Bible aptly points out, “We should never forget that the purpose of theology is doxology; we study in order to praise (p 594).” The other side of that coin is the more I know about God, the less I really know since he is, for all intents and purposes unknowable. The closest we come is in the person of Christ – “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
It is my thought that we should always pursue the un-pursuable. To seek that which in reality cannot be found and to reach out to the one who is beyond reach. Yes, in Christ there is the presence of the Father, but even in Christ, our knowledge of God is beyond comprehension. After all, anyone who tells me they can understand how an eternal God could sacrifice his only son for the sake of a sinful humanity is not believable.