Knowing God vs. Knowing God

To know facts about something is to have propositional knowledge.  To have propositional knowledge is to know the truth value of certain propositions.  However, not all knowledge is propositional knowledge.  As Richard Feldman states

You might think that to know someone or something is to have propositional knowledge of some facts about that person or thing . . . But knowing some facts about a person is not sufficient for knowing the person.  J.D. Salinger is a reclusive, but well-known, author. Many people do know some facts about him: they know that he wrote The Catcher in the Rye. They may know that he does not interact with a great many people.  So they know facts about him, but they do not know him.  Thus, knowing a person is not the same as knowing some facts about a person. (Epistemology, p. 11)

For example, I have a lot of propositional knowledge about my favorite voice actor, Vic Mignogna.  He voiced characters like Edward Elric and Tamaki Suoh, he’s blonde, he just got married, and he’s a professing Christian.  However, I have never talked to the guy or even met him.  I have propositional knowledge of Vic, but I lack acquaintance knowledge.  I also have propositional knowledge of my friend, Gregg.  He’s Eastern Orthodox, a grad student in Missouri, and loves the Myers-Briggs personality stuff.  There are undoubtably many other people in the world who have never met Gregg, but know this stuff about him.  However, they lack acquaintance knowledge of Gregg, whereas I have been blessed with having acquaintance knowledge of Gregg.  I have talked with him and hung out with him, whereas they haven’t.

When it comes to knowing God, I have the tendency to emphasize knowing facts about God, but not having acquaintance knowledge of God.  I’m not even sure what acquaintance knowledge of God is supposed to be like or what I should expect.  As A.W. Tozer says, “We are satisfied to rest in our judicial possessions [God’s forgiveness, eternal life, etc.] and for the most part we bother ourselves very little about the absence of personal experience,” (The Pursuit of God, p. 37).  While propositional knowledge and acquaintance knowledge certainly do and should overlap, it can be dangerous to stop with one and never get into the other.  I try to believe true things about Him and I put a lot of mental energy into deciding between the smorgasbord of doctrines to choose from–Calvinism vs. Molinism, eternal damnation vs. annihilationism, timelessness vs. temporality, etc–but I struggle with seeking and experiencing God as a reality that is present in my life rather than a concept.  I struggle with the type of acquaintance knowledge that I seem to see in Scripture. The psalmist says “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good,” (Psalm 34:8). And

Because your steadfast love is better than life,

my lips will praise you.

So I will bless you as long as I live;

in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,

and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips. . .
(Psalm 63:3-5)

This is something I wish to grow in during grad school.  I don’t simply want to grow intellectually, but grow as a Christian wanting to love and follow God more and more, treating Him as a reality rather than a concept.  As Tozer prays, “enable me to taste Thee and know that Thou art good,” (p. 59).

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