Believing one knows God is idolatry


“Faith is not the progressive unearthing of God’s nature but a recognition that he/she is fundamentally unknowable. The signpost points not to growing certainty but towards increasing non-knowing. This is not as outrageous as it seems. An apophatic thread, a belief that the only way to conceive of God is through conceding that he is ineffable, runs throughout Christian history. Jan Van Ruysbroeck, the 14th century Augustinian and man of prayer, maintained that “God is immeasurable and incomprehensible, unattainable and unfathomable”. St John of the Cross, one of the pillars of western mysticism, put it even more succinctly: “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he travels on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

This redirectioning of the spiritual path has fruitful offshoots. We no longer have to ask why God orders the world in such an unsatisfactory way, allowing cancer cells and war to proliferate. Nor do we have to bombard him with prayer in order to achieve our desired ends. Such dialogue is only sustainable if you posit a personal being.”

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