11. TO UNDERSTAND
CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE

 

To understand the full possibilities of Christianity, which have been generally forgotten today, we must realize that it is normal to modern man to be subject to behavioural and emotional illusions, as well as to adolescent fantasies and daydreams.  The most important recent rediscoveries in religious psychology can extend our spiritual knowledge, informing us about the emotional delusions which accumulate during our lives, and so helping us to find the elusive knowledge of God “ Theoria, which is our aim.

If these are not recognized for what they are, they will be assimilated by intellect and imagination, and then distorted, but this can be psychologically controlled. Evagrius of Pontus wrote about this, but what he wrote will be properly understood only by those who have been working on the spiritual path for some time, for, as I said earlier, it was against now almost forgotten pre-Christian views that Christianity first spoke - in the words of Saint Paul to the Athenians - of how the 'unknown God' could be known. (Acts 17:23)

In this way, the Apostle took human thought a step further than the concept that we do not know God, a view which originated in pre-Christian times. Yet Saint Paul's statement about the knowledge of God has not really been assimilated by Western Christians. The Hellenistic concept of knowledge still defines the limit of the knowable for many Western thinkers. To define the problem, modern language normally describes things simply by comparing them to other things. Since the coming of rationalism almost a thousand years ago, this return to pre-Christian thought has spread through most Western languages, for it is the outcome of a wrong attitude to the basic paradox which arises whenever we try to describe the indescribable.

The problem lies in the fact that the experience of God cannot be described in words, because it cannot be compared to any familiar experience, and the experience is missing because the experience is lacking. This wrongly seems to be a valid proof that God cannot be experienced, although the record describes evidence of an invisible God who could in some way reveal Himself to Saint Paul and others - without the need for descriptive comparisons which are not readily available.  In fact, it was this difficulty that led to a need for the early Councils of the Church to describe how an invisible God could be revealed. Today the difficulties of resolving this question underlie most of the divisions between the churches.