Keeping with the tribute to the incredible literary awesomeness of A.W. Tozer and Frederick William Faber I’d like to post a few more bits from “Knowledge of the Holy”. I spent several hours every Wednesday this past semester discussing this book with some awesome guys. Here were some of our favorite portions.
This post highlights some of our favorite thoughts from the portion titled, “God Incomprehensible.”
The child, the philosopher, and the religionist have all one question: “What is God like?”
God is not like anything that is, He is not exactly like anything or anybody.
We learn by using what we already know as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown. It is not possible for the mind to crash suddenly past the familiar into the totally unfamiliar. Even the most vigorous and daring mind is unable to create something out of nothing by a spontaneous act of imagination.
…when the prophet Ezekiel saw heaven opened and beheld visions of God, he found himself looking at that which he had no language to describe. What he was seeing was wholly different from anything he had ever known before, so he fell back upon the language of resemblance. “As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire.”
To think of creature and Creator as alike in essential being is to rob God of most of His attributes and reduce Him to the status of a creature.
…there cannot be two unlimited substances in the universe.
When we try to imagine what God is like we must of necessity use that-which-is-not-God as the raw material for our minds to work on; hence whatever we visualize God to be, he is not, for we have constructed our image out of that which he has made and what He has made is not God. If we insist upon trying to imagine Him, we end with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts; and an idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.
Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms.
If what we conceive God to be He is not, how then shall we think of Him?
…how shall we acquaint ourselves with One who eludes all the straining efforts of mind and heart? And how shall we be held accountable to know what cannot be known?
“Canst thou by searching find out God?” — Zophar the Namathite
In Christ and by Christ, God effects complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love. Faith is an organ of knowledge, and love an organ of experience. God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself, and by faith and love we enter and lay hold on Him.
“What is God like?” If by that question we mean “What is God like in Himself?” there is no answer. If we mean “What has God disclosed about Himself that the reverent reason can comprehend?” there is, I believe, an answer both full and satisfying. For while the name of God is secret and His essential nature incomprehensible, He in condescending love has by revelation declared certain things to be true of Himself. These we call His attributes.
Sovereign Father, heavenly King,
Thee we now presume to sing;
Glad thine attributes confess,
Glorious all, and numberless.
— Charles Wesley