Tools by which We Learn

Last chapter of Part 5: Doctrine of the Knowledge of God
Chapter 32 - Resources for Knowing

This chapter "amplifies the previous chapter's description of the existential perspective" (748).

Knowing God is a personal enterprise, not merely academic or propositional.  Of course, propositional knowledge of God is needed to know Him personally, but we shouldn't do theology in the clinical abstract.

Our knowledge of God is of the heart, so is related to our character, not gained by intellect or feeling alone but by a combination of:

You could describe this as the ability to think, but we can reason wrongly.  Reason is conformity to truth in Scripture, and to the laws of logic which Scripture assumes.  Reason is not a separate criteria to which Scripture must conform, nor is it the primary faculty by which all others below are judged.

Sense and experience
This involves perceiving something outside of the self and knowing about it by sense (or some similar perception?).  But to perceive in this way involves making judgments about what you see, feel, etc.  Reason is required to make sense of what we sense.  Experience is required to reason about... something.  There is physical sensation, and then there is a perception about it.  This is how we have a real connection with apostolic truth: the apostles experienced Jesus (1 John 1:1), and we read the Bible.

Like intellect, it must be consecrated to God, can serve Him or be used to sin against Him.  Conversion doesn't make you more or less emotional.  Feelings can lead to worse decisions or better ones.  They are part of cognitive rest - either a satisfaction with the status quo that affirms our thoughts, decisions or past behavior, or the restlessness of a convicting conscience or responsibility unfulfilled.  A proper emotional response to the truth is important, to rejoice in good and hate what is evil, as Scripture requires.  We can cultivate godly emotions (existential perspective) by thinking (normative perspective) and acting (situational perspective) rightly.

Although used only negatively in the King James Version, imagination is actually an aspect of thinking, perceiving and feeling truth, by considering "things that are not" (760).  Conservative theologians pride themselves on not saying anything new.  But since it takes imagination to apply to truth to our lives and to new situations and generations, imagination is essential to theology.

Interrelated with knowledge, we can't make one primary over the other absolutely.  We know by doing and we do by knowing.  We decide to pay attention to certain experiences and not others.  People respond to a jailbreak in different ways, depending on their loyalties.  The will is probably closest tied to the emotional, affective side of us, for what we will to do is what we most want to do (HT: Jonathan Edwards).

Habits of thought, know-how, wisdom in facing temptation are all critical.  It is hard to break bad habits and start new ones, but to grow we must be able to do so.

When you don't know HOW you know something, but you're convinced, we call it intuition.  This gets at the mystery of knowledge.  Why is logic compelling?  How do we justify any claim, ultimately?  How do we know when we are at cognitive rest regarding anything?  Intuition.

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