Knowledge and Fellowship: Privileged Information

I know God when he speaks…

…which is to say, I know God through his own voluntary self-disclosure.

If, for the sake of argument, I was to take a chainsaw to your skull and open you up like a hard boiled egg,

…it would make a very big mess.

…But that’s not really the point…
Brain ScanEven if I was to engage in gruesome dissections, or any form of more mundane observation – no matter how minute, I would not be able to know anything significant about you as a person other than through your self-disclosure.
I would venture to argue that this would hold even if I had the technology to ‘wiretap’ your brain. Even with electrodes reading your thoughts I would still not know anything about you as a person other than what you chose to reveal.
[I could be wrong about this, if I can get a volunteer and a research grant, I’d be willing to find out…]

Self-Disclosure is not a form of knowledge that is open to all people at all times.
It is privileged information.
It presupposes some transaction between the person knowing and the person being known.
Self Disclosure is a form of double-edged trust between the people involved. I trust that you will listen, understand, and love me when I reveal myself to you. You trust that what I am telling you about myself is true.
There is no self-disclosure between strangers.
Revelation is a form of knowledge peculiar to fellowships.

Knowledge of God cannot be obtained anywhere other than in fellowship with God.

“For who among men knows the concerns of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the concerns of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order to know what has been freely given to us by God.” (1Cor 2:11-12 HCSB)

And it is at this point we begin to see acquiring Knowledge of God is not simply or primarily a methodological problem.
That is, gaining knowledge of God cannot ultimately be a matter of rationality, or having the right tools, or being in the right observation point.

Knowledge of God can only be gained by those who are in fellowship with God.
[There can be no theologians who are not also Christians.]

The decisive issues that we must resolve therefore, if we are to have Knowledge of God, are not methodological but relational and moral.

Which is why we need to deal with ‘Judgement’ – that strange term that is equally at home in epistemological and moral discourse.

Judgement is how our knowledge of God got broken, and how it was (and will be) mended.

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2 thoughts on “Knowledge and Fellowship: Privileged Information

  1. Well, what can I say? I agree. Self-disclosure is the great humbling force. No matter how much I read or fast or think or listen, I cannot know God unless he reveals himself to me. I cannot, by my own effort, earn a greater understanding of what God is like.

    If theology is about knowing God, where does that put you bible college students though? Are you really studying theology? Or is what you are learning a means towards the end of theology? Or even a means towards the end of helping others towards the end of theology?

    I have some thoughts that may be relevant to this. Should be posted early next week.

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  2. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts. I'm still reading your posts on communication and categorisation. I'll have some comments for you over there soon.

    Are we really studying theology?
    Yes.
    Theology is our speech about God. We are studying the history and corpus of human reflection and struggle with the knowledge of God. This may not in fact be true knowledge of God.
    But it is true human speech about God.
    And through God's grace we are enabled to listen to his voice and then to speak truly about him.

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