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If a person known the essences of God, did not he make a picture for God within him ? But if he cannot know essences of God, how can he to believe in eternal Love and Wisdom of God ?

The Job 36:26 in KJV says, God is Great, we know Him not. But if we know none of Him, what is the Great's meaning ? Would it come from experience of life of person not only pure logic.

Just as this, the Bible is such book that collection of experience of Pious persons about God. Christianity thereby is open to other religions for which also have personal experience for God.

But I doubt it that fell from Faith of the One. In my imagination, the Pious need nothing of other religion for his faith.

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A. Can we know the essence of God?

The Bible teaches that there are things that can be known about God, and things that cannot be known about God.

Some things have been revealed to the whole world:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

Some things are revealed only to those who love God:

9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

It is clear that God holds many things secret, and reveals them in His own time:

25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)

It stands to reason, that if there are mysteries that were hidden but later revealed, God being an infinite being, there remain other mysteries not yet revealed. For example, in Revelation 10, a mystery is revealed to John, but he is commanded to "seal it up" and not reveal it to others:

10 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. 2 He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”

It may be argued that these mysteries that have been revealed are merely information about what God has done and do not touch on His essence. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 2 that the knowledge runs deeper than surface facts:

15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

B. How can we know and believe in the eternal love and wisdom of God?

God communicates with us in many ways. It is profitable for each person to avail themselves of as many means as possible, praying always for God to speak in new ways. The Book of Job is possibly the oldest Book in the Bible. Job suffered and protested that he could not hear from God:

When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him. (Job 9:11)

But by the end of his ordeal, Job said this:

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. (Job 42:5)

What means of communicating with God were discussed in Job?

  • Prayer
  • Sacrifice (both our sacrifices made to God, and His sacrifice of His son, offered to us)
  • Fasting
  • Observing God's works in Nature
  • Dreams
  • Visions
  • Listening to Elders and wise people
  • Being refined by Suffering
  • Hearing messages from God's Prophets
  • Being visited by Angels
  • sabbath rest and meditation
  • Theophany - hearing God's audible voice
  • Reading the written Word of God

You may wonder - the written Word of God? It did not yet exist in Job's day, which is why he had to pray for it to come into existence:

“Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, 24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! 25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:23-27)

As for what that communication with God will reveal, the Book of Job has two center points, which coincidentally line up with the two points of your second question:

  • Chapter 28 - where Job declares that God alone knows the path to the source of eternal Wisdom
  • Chapter 37 - where Elihu explains to Job why he has suffered: because of God's love

11 He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them. 12 At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them. 13 He brings the clouds to punish people, or to water his earth and show his love.

14 “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. (Job 37:11-14)

It should also be noted that Job's three friends argue that God is so transcendant that we cannot know Him. Elihu's answer is mistaken by many to be the same as the friends' answers. Elihu says that God is so transcendant that we cannot know Him through our own capabilities and God is not obligated to come and speak to us - yet he does. Elihu argues not for the impossibiity of knowing God, but of the impossibility of knowing God ON OUR OWN TERMS. We must rely on the means and timing of God's self revelation to us.

33 Should God then reward you on your terms,
    when you refuse to repent?
You must decide, not I;
    so tell me what you know. (Job:34:33)
  • So person cannot to know but believe God's essences that all are good in the One. – David Taylor Aug 14 at 5:07
  • Not exactly. Faith (belief that leads to action as explained in James) in God's revealed truth produces results which leads to certain knowledge. God's truths are self-subtantiating, unleashing power which attests to their truthfulness. – Paul Chernoch Aug 14 at 13:13
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We can have literal knowledge of God via analogy.

There are two ways in which we can use terms:

  1. univocal way = when we use the term in exactly the same way (eg. when we say "Socrates is a man" and "Aristotel is a man" we use the term "man" in the exactly the same way, ie. we use the term "man" in a univocal way).
  2. equivocal way = when we use the term in a completely different and unrelated way (eg. when we say "He fell into a well" and "He is not feeling well" we use the term "well" a completely different and unrelated way, ie. we use the term "well" in an equivocal way).

Now, the problem arises:

Problem: In which way do we use the terms when we apply them to God? When we say for example that God is good, do we say it in a univocal way or equivocal way? If we say those terms in a univocal way, then we have a too low view of God (God is not good in exactly the same way as humans are or any creature). However, if we apply terms like goodness in univocal way then we have really not said anything meanigful.

Solution: There is a third way of using terms (which is intermediate between the first two):

  1. analogical way = we use the term, not in the exactly the same way but also not in the completely unrelated way (eg. "strength of muscles", "strength of an argument", "strength of will."; the term "strength" is not used in exactly the same way but it is not used in a completely different way, ie. the term "strength" is used in an analogous way)

So when we speak of God's goodness (or any other attribute) we use them in an analogical way. To give a further example, look at the following: "Mouse lives", "Human lives", "God lives"; but life of a mouse is not the same as a life of a human, nor is the life of human same as the life of God. Mouse, human and God, all three, poses life, however, God possesses it in an infinite higher manner (however, because analogical use of terms is flexible (as shown in examples), that conveys some literal true knowledge of God).

Note: The analogical way is not to be confused with metaphorical language. The analogical way of speaking conveys true knowledge. For some differences between metaphor and analogy see an answer to this question: Is there any relationship between Aquinas teaching on the analogical knowledge of God and Christ teaching in parables?

God is knowable.

We can distinguish two things here:

  1. knowability (unqualified),
  2. knowability to humans.

In the first way, God is absolutely knowable because he perfectly knows Himself. However, let us distinguish two ways in which humans can know God:

  1. through effects,
  2. to see God face to face (= to see God's essence; this is also called beatific vision).

In this world, we can know God only in the first way, through effects. To oversimplify it (so that I do not digress), we see for example goodness in the world, and then we use the flexibility of analogical use of terms to say that God is infinitely good. That is how we attain knowledge of God in this world (through effects). However, in this world, as St. Thomas Aquinas proves we can not see God's essence, but as Aquinas proves, in the next life we can attain that knowledge by God's help (and that is what heaven is).

Note: This is just a short overview of enormous topics in theology.

  • While univocal interpretation is problematic if applied everywhere, the sense of the word "good" in "God is good" is the same as in "clean water is good". The connotations are different, but not the meaning of the word. I think we need a fourth option. ;) – curiousdannii Aug 12 at 23:54
  • @curiousdannii Why do you think that when we say "God is good" and "clean water is good" we use the term good to express the same meaning? – Thom Aug 13 at 0:26
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    @curiousdannii Alternative is the word 'good' in sentences does not have wholly different meaning and it does not wholly the same meaning, ie. analogical use. – Thom Aug 13 at 0:46
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    @curiousdanii Univocal and equivocal use are easy to clearly articulate; analogical use is not. If, therefore, "God is good," and "Clean water is good" use the word in the same way, you should be able to give a single definition of the word 'good' that definitively captures the usage in both predications. Since you believe that the word is being used univocally, you have the burden of giving such a definition. – zippy2006 Aug 13 at 13:25
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    @curiousdanii If you aren't able to give any justification for your opinion due to 'good' being a "semantic prime" then the opinion becomes rationally incommunicable. – zippy2006 Aug 14 at 18:59

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