I Believe, Know and Love God. Really?

When Christians gather for worship or study, the underlining force that brings them is garnered from the belief that it is part of their obligation for being a Christian. Because the church instructs, hence we abide. There is no objective reason and everything that follows mirrors the subjective nature of the world outside. In my short paper, I will outline the nature of our faith and how we have allowed the secular status quo of the material world to dilute the essence of our spirituality.

We have digressed towards the Old Testament core reasons for worship and fellowship, which were replaced by the new temple through Jesus Christ in the New Covenant. The theology of the New Covenant points directly to an individual and their faith rather than the national framework of the people of Israel in the Old Testament. The Old Covenant was implemented as a funnel that brought the people of Israel to God through its numerous laws. Laws are based on a lifestyle framed within a social construct. The New Covenant is aimed directly at the individual and the objective framework of that individual. There are no extensive laws of the Old Testament, but the two laws are given by Christ in Matthew 22: 36 -40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” 1

Interestingly, the question only asked for the greatest law, but Jesus provided the two answers. Why? Undoubtedly the foundation for believing, knowing and loving God – is love. The relationship is established through Christ in the expression of the agape love of God on the cross, which is the testimonial expression as an example for each and every individual to embrace. Hence the underlining and foothold of our faith begin with every person, which is the driving force of the Holy Spirit to believe, know and love God. Thus, it becomes the sanctification process for Christians to be mirrors of that love expressed to others.

The fundamental issue is the objective state of an individual. However, I believe the answer lies within the philosophical view of that individual. However, many people look at philosophy with disdain, an attempt to dislodge God within the reality of our lives. However, I disagree with this generalization. When we seek to understand the individual’s objective view, it helps us understand his philosophical framework. As philosophy seeks answers, hence the individual seeks answers.

When we discuss life issues within a philosophical framework, we address issues of the world around us. Dismantling the ideologies that ground these philosophical views leads to further truth and coherency issues. In general, philosophy can be defined as: “The Love of Wisdom.” The Greek word Philo means love, and Sophia means wisdom. The term “philosophy” literally means “love of wisdom.” In a broad sense, philosophy is an activity people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and with each other. As an academic discipline, philosophy is much the same. Those who study philosophy are perpetually engaged in asking, answering, and arguing for their answers to life’s most fundamental questions. To make such a pursuit more systematic academic philosophy is traditionally divided into major areas of study.2

Based on this definition, we realize that Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity, and possibility.

Within this central theme of the intrinsic value of an individual, it defines his perspective of his objectivity. Furthermore, our choices and subjective behaviour are underlined by our objective framework. Hence, understanding an individual’s objectivity and how he defines it helps many Christians and non-Christians define their view and relationship with God within the topics of love, belief, and knowledge.

In his book Christian Theology, Millard Erickson farmed it clearly, “There is belief in something higher than the individual human person himself. This may be a personal god, a whole collection of supernatural beings, a force within nature, a set of values, or the human race as a whole(humanity). Typically there is a distinction between sacred and secular (or profane). This distinction may be extended to persons, objects, places, and practices. The degree of force with which it is held varies among religions and among adherents of a given religion.” 3

Millard outlines the objective view of a person as a distinctive force that drives individuals that adhere to worldviews.

When we approach people with this foundation in tack, we can reveal the truth found in scripture. If Christianity is not true, no matter how we try to express logic and coherency, sooner or later, many people will conclude that it is a lie.

Scripture is the source of God’s revelation and based on the many challenges to disprove its authenticity, scripture has stood up undeterred to theistic, secular and scientific challenges over time.

Knowing ourselves opens the pathway to knowing God. Unless we realize our intrinsic values in this creation, whether we are a fisherman or farmer up to a wealthy or famous individual, our intrinsic value in the eyes of God is equal. There is not a person alive today who can safely acknowledge that they have not for one moment judged an individual based on his value framed within a secular context. How can we know, believe and love God when these standards of our reasoning and views are skewed.

In her article “Fully Alive,” Margaret Manning 4 provides the objective embrace of knowing, believing and loving God, quoting from John Eldridge. Waking the Dead, “God’s intentions towards me might be better than I’d thought. His happiness and my happiness are tied together? My fully coming alive is what He’s committed to? That’s the offer of Christianity? Wow, I mean, it would make no small difference if we knew – and I mean really knew – that down-deep-in-your-toes kind of knowing that no one and nothing can talk you out of – if we knew that our lives and God’s glory were bound together. Things would start looking up. It would feel promising…the offer is life.”5

This also revealed the whole theological impact of John’s word in his epistle 1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” It is the agape love of God that reveals the knowledge and our faith. That is why Jesus says in the two commandments, in Matthew 22: 37-38, “… to love God first, from our hearts, from our soul and our minds.“6

Unless we are objectively anchored in God and his revealing love throughout the Bible, we will never be able to anchor ourselves in Him and hence unable to follow the second commandment, which states clearly in Matthew 22:39 -……..You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Why not just God?

The answer lies in the relationship that is anchored with God. To love God is to love oneself, as Magaret Manning states earlier. Our happiness is linked to the glory of God. As Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received with the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that he might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory.” 7

Knowing, loving and believing leads to our fulfilment in life and possesses the missing pieces to the puzzle that burden our lives. This challenge towards our philosophical framework, which every person bears, must be addressed, and that challenge begins with the individual. It is essential to be made aware and part of our spiritual journey; otherwise, it becomes a subjective view that may lead to theologically unsound and heretical beliefs.

“Applying a theology of the world to our socially-mediated irrationalities suggests that the unconsulted other may be one medium of that grace and thus of deliverance from some of our worldly ignorances. Specifically, in receptively listening to our experiences, we may be exposed to insights we cannot see from within our closed contexts and therefore gain new perspectives on the perniciously conditioned and imperfect nature of our reasoning – even if this new perspective is uncomfortable.” 8

Theological understanding and focus in a church environment must be geared towards members being consciously aware of our own objective reasoning. Our ability to identify these pitfalls that will subjectively draw our thinking and actions away from God. When we identify the number one problem, which begins with ourselves, can we move forward.

The narrative elements in the pronoun “I” will be discernible, and the word ‘God‘ will present an exclusiveness that is part of our intrinsic value related to our relationship with God. When these two words are placed within a literary context that defines that relationship; I love God, believe in God, and know God; its meaning would be an exclusive personal objective view that is unique and passionate for that individual.

Personally, I have tried for years to put this feeling into words, and no word on earth describes their emotional attachment to knowing, believing and loving God. When you fall ‘into that groove‘ and walk that path, the world outside fades into the background. We are definitely aware of it, but its influences are irrelevant and un-opposing. Moving forward becomes a lesson in perseverance and our steadfastness to our God through any challenge or obstacle.

In conclusion, the methodology in revealing the aspects of the elements of believing, knowing and loving must be set aside first. The character of a person’s objective view must be addressed first, and the elements that influence an individual’s choices and reasoning must be placed within a context framed with a philosophical framework. Address issues of contention, like pain and suffering. Define ideologies of morals and ethics. Address challenges to a theistic view from secular opponents, like science, naturalism, atheism etc. Everyone has issues, and those who do not address them are sidelining them in the hope of faith without reason. Can there be faith without reason? Like Rene Descartes provides in his famous statement, “I think; therefore I am.”9

It is knowledge and the where we ground our knowledge that leads our reasoning and acceptance of Truths. Truth statements must be grounded in logic and comprehensible. The unknown is made known, and hence the reality of our existence becomes real and ‘therefore I am.” Rene Descartes as a mathematician, knew that unless a foundation of knowledge were not completely solid, anything built upon it would inevitably crumble. He struggled with the exponents of how truth was discerned from the reality conceived by our mind.

As a philosophical construct, this question gives the delusions on the human psyche and the mental challenges in discerning the reality around us. These issues are important because it dwells deep in a person’s mind. However, realizing these challenges allows an individual to seek answers and how these answers are obtainable when we set aside our presuppositions and assumptions. However, this does not mean setting aside logic and coherency but making it the platform for seeking answers.

Allowing a person to identify these questions, whether you are a Christian or not, is important because it allows the ‘Truth’ to provide them with the answers. Only when the Truth is revealed will our burdens be set free.

GOD BLESS

Bibliography
1. Bible, The Holy. English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.
2. Philosophy, Florida State University – Department of. FSU-DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY. n.d. https://philosophy.fsu.edu/undergraduate-study/why-philosophy/What-is-Philosophy (accessed 4 5, 2022).
3. Erickson, Millard. “What is Theology?” In Christian Theology, by Millard Erickson, 18. Ada, MI, United States: Baker Academic Publishing group, 1993.
4. Manning, Margaret. Ravi Zacharias Internation Ministry. January 31, 2014. http://www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/fully/alive/ (accessed May 05, 2022).
5. Eldridge, John. Waking the Dead. Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson Publishers, 2003.
6. Bible, The Holy. English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016
7. Edwards, Jonathan. The Philosophy of Jonathan Edwards: From His Private Notebook. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers,, 2009.
8. McRorie, Christina G. “Moral Reasoning in “the World”.” Theological Studies SAGE (Journals SAGE Pubishing ) 8, no. 2 (2021): 213-217.
9. Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy. HAWTHORNE, CA: BN Publishing, 2008.





Categories: Behold The Man, christianity, english

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: