Fearing and Loving the Covenant God

Can we truly know God? If so, what does such knowledge entail? How can the God who is wholly Other make Himself known to creatures? If we were to know this infinite God, as finite creatures, what would such knowledge look like?

Karl Barth claims that it would be an involved knowledge, a true knowledge, and a knowledge that is nonetheless shrouded in mystery.

Knowledge of God is self-involving. To know God is to love God. This is not the knowing of propositions, but the knowledge of faith and love. We know God as we trust what we have heard in the proclamation of the word.

But with “love,” Barth also insists that true knowledge entails fear of the Lord. Yes, perfect love casts out fear–of judgement. But there is an otherness of God that is embraced, and an appropriate response of fear, that comes when we truly know the true God.

It seems that the point to which Barth is perhaps most eager to arrive, however, has to do with how God can possibly become a true object of our knowledge. Here, he turns to the Trinity.

God does not become known and knowable after there are people to know God. God is eternally known and knowable because the Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father (through the Spirit? or does the Spirit know, too?).

Human knowledge is true, if limited. God has revealed Himself as this God whom God knows himself to be.

Although the Trinity can never be a philosophical answer to the problem of the knowledge of God, it is one that coheres within the Christian claim about God’s identity, and the nature of God’s self-revelation.

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