Friday, September 16, 2005

Seeking God, Obscurity, and the Knowledge of God.

If [God] had wished to overcome the obstinacy of the most hardened, he could have done so by revealing himself to them so plainly that they could not doubt the truth of his essence, as he will appear on the last day. . . .This is not the way he wished to appear when he came in mildness, because so many men had shown themselves unworthy of his clemency, that he wished to deprive them of the good they did not desire. It was therefore not right that he should appear in a manner divine and absolutely capable of convincing all men, but neither was it right that his coming should be so hidden that he could not be recognized by those who sincerely sought him. He wished to make himself perfectly recognizable to them. Thus wishing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart and hidden from those who shun him with all their heart, he has qualified our knowledge of him by giving signs which can be seen by those who seek him and not by those who do not.

‘There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition’ (Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 149/430).

For more on this idea, see Douglas Groothuis, On Pascal (Wadsworth, 2003).


Susan said...

Just posted something on my blog with smidgens of thought along these lines. I am struggling with the useage of words like "see" and "know." In our media-saturated environment, those words have weak communicators of what can be powerful, transformational human experience. The question is do we realize the connection of the eye to the movement of the soul? Does what we see change us? Can we see and not be in any way changed?

stc said...

An interesting quote. The first part of it reminds me of Jesus' explanation for speaking in parables:

To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven. (Mark 4:11-12)

A tough text, no? It implies that Jesus did not want to provoke repentance in those who were present. More to the point, he didn't want them to arrive at forgiveness.

Anyway, it also speaks to your question, Susan … the distinction Jesus draws between seeing and perceiving/turning.