Thursday, October 21, 2010

Merely speculative knowledge

So we can know God in a 'merely speculative' way or we can know Him with 'the will, or inclination, or heart.' In the first we consent to the fact that something is beautiful. In the second, we feel its beauty. This is central to Edwards' understanding of human experience, and we as the Church today do well to hear him lest we mistake the former kind of knowing for the latter and rest content with a faith in which truths about Christ replace love for Christ. (Ortlund, Dane. A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards. Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2008. 59)

As Ortlund discusses, in the excerpt above, Edwards' concept of two kinds of knowledge, a few things come to mind. First, Edwards, and Ortlund would agree, is not against speculative, intellectual knowledge. Edwards' legacy is one of world-class scholarship leading to a profoundly intelligent mind that has few peers. And Ortlund has his PhD. What Ortlund is suggesting, by way of an analysis of Edwards' thinking on this matter, is that
merely intellectual, speculative knowledge falls short of what we are called to and what is available to us in Christ. We need to have an inner sense of the beauty of God in Christ; we need to taste God's goodness, we need to delight in Christ's compassion, we need to enjoy the delicacies of the Divine. Secondly, what comes to mind is that "I want this!" I want a deep, accurate, and thoroughly biblical knowledge of God; I also want to taste His wonder and sense His awesomeness in my inner man. I want to know Him with my head and know Him with my heart.

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