Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Break, Epistemology and Rest

Spring break has given me a chance to slow down and reflect on some random strains of thought that I am going to try to tie together in this post.

Currently I am reading a book called Loving to Know by Esther Meeks. Without going into detail (since I am writing a review on it) I'll just say that Meeks views all knowledge as inherently relational. She proposes what is called a "covenant epistemology" based off of the philosophical work of Polyani and the theological work of John Frame.

The whole proposal is interesting and I have found it extremely enlightening. For instance, even if there is no such think as a "covenant with creation," since knowledge is inherently covenantal, that must mean that, on some level, the mere act of creating Adam and Eve with the capacity to know and be known was a covenantal act. This obviously doesn't have a lot of exegetical warrant but I think it has a lot of philosophical backing.

Image result for shalom
I think the entire idea of knowing is interesting for another reason. I love to study and I love to read and I love to learn things. That is all good. However, the act of knowing itself should lead to God and God is the ultimate giver of shalom or peace. I think that a lot of times when I study, I am not looking to encounter the God of peace and rest but another mountain of knowledge to traverse. In some sense I feel like that is what the author of Ecclesiastes felt when he said

 "All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled wit hearing." (Ecclesiastes 1:8) 

Which leads me back to the idea that in my pursuit of knowledge I have to find rest--a shalom that comes in being satisfied with what I do not know and a joy that comes in finding what I do not know in the One I do know. The infinite depth of God and his knowledge should lead me to joy and rest, not exhaustion or frustration.

I think the best theological thinking I have ever done has been when I have embraced the idea that I am a known-knower. I am known by God and I am a knower of God. These are not symmetrical forms of knowledge. God knows me completely and I know God incompletely.

I can rest in what God knows and I can rest in what I do not know...and what I do know. What I know, while finite, is nevertheless grace. It is by grace that I know anything of the infinite. That is the heartbeat of "covenant epistemology."

So in that, I can find my shalom.

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