Knowing, Loving, and Comprehending John


Knowing, Loving, and Comprehending

John da Fiesole quote St. Augustine in his comments box to the effect that, "We cannot love what we do not know." This is a truism that is an example of one of the points I was trying to make before. I want to get to the main point, but I tarry here to point out that agreement on this premise is entirely predicated on the depth of the meaning of "know." If we mean simply knowledge of, then agreement must follow. But if we mean more than knowledge of, then the premise is debatable. We can love what we do not know in any intimate way. It is perhaps not wise, but it is possible. But it is also entirely beside the point that I wish to make.

That point plays on the same comment in which a very useful distinction is made between knowing and comprehending. Tom says (I paraphrase) we cannot love what we do not know, but we can love what we do not fully comprehend. And he reiterates my point that not only can we do so, but that it is in fact the common fact of most love. How many of us can truly say that we understand everything about those around us who we love?

We must know at least of the existence of an object or idea before we can love it. But fortunately, love is used to lacunae. We do not need to know completely or all about. We do not need to understand everything about an object, idea, or entity in order to love it. This is the fundamental kernel of my statements about the limits of the intellect. As John da Fiesole points out--knowledge and study of the things of God are a good in themselves, but they are not the highest good, and they cease to be good when they become the sole purpose of our study. The point of knowing about God is to love God. When our study of God inadvertantly becomes wrapped up in our image of ourselves, or becomes a kind of intellectual game (witness the Jesus Seminar in most of its pronouncements), it cease to lead toward its proper and natural object--love and union with God.

I'm certain that my language will be further refined or examined by John, but it will only lead to clarity because I am certain my intent is clear. Study and argument is good so long as the study or argument does not become an end in itself. It seems that perhaps our strongest disagreement is upon the probability of this happening. I would say, because the matter is holy and Divine does not mean that one cannot be led astray from its fundamental purpose--loving God. John might say that the nature of the study itself affords some degree of protection--at least that is how I have interepreted previous statements. Here I am dubious, but willing to be convinced.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 23, 2003 6:04 PM.

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