The following is a dialogue that occurred publicly on another forum. I have left the discussion in its original form. This post was originally written in 1999 when I was an undergrad at Lenoir-Rhyne College. I would now characterize it as a dialogue about religious epistemology. My responses are outside the quotation marks after the post begins.
I'm glad we got all the details worked out about polemics, etc.
From: Edgar Foster
"OIDAMEN DE hOTI hO hUIOS TOU QEOU hHKEI KAI DEDWKEN
hHMIN DIANOIAN hINA GINWSKOMEN TON ALHQINON."
"True, John does write that our DIANOIA comes from
the Son of God. This verse is in harmony with John 1:18, where we read
that the Son of God came and explained (exegeted) the Father, thus
revealing Him to humanity in a way not hitherto experienced.
Nevertheless, I must ask--where do we find the words and deeds of the
Son of God? Is it not in the written Word of God? Does not the Bible
report God's revelatory activities?"
"Of course it does. It is a report ABOUT God. It is
NOT God. It is written by men who are inspired DIA TON QEON."
Not only is it a report ABOUT God: it is a report BY God. God speaks to
us DIA His written Word.
DESPOTA SU hO POIHSAS TON OURANON KAI THN GHN KAI THN QALASSAN KAI
PANTA TA EN AUTOIS hO TOU PATROS hHMWN DIA PNEUMATOS hAGIOU STOMATOS
DAUEID PAIDOS SOU (Acts 4:24, 25).
"I am noticing the three levels of our 'knowing' in the above passage:
OIDAMEN is a visionary term of perception here, imho.
DIANOIA is the understanding [through mind] we are given when the Son
of God comes to us and gives it to us. I take this 'giver' to be the
"Spirit of Truth" [PARAKLEITOS] GINWSKAMEN is the actual knowing in the
fullest sense, the identity of self, mind, and God. When one knows in this way, there is no need of other "proof", because ANY proof rests upon IT. This is the goal of our study of scripture, and not the proofs that we are so convinced that we 'know'..."
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is not the teaching of
the GNT [Greek New Testament]. At least, not at its surface level. :-)
It is very difficult to prove that we come to know God solely through
the inward mediation of the Spirit, and not by [means of] Scripture (Cf. Acts
18:24-28). 1 John 5:20 (in its first century context) does not say that
the Spirit of truth has given/gives us DIANOIAN. John is talking about
a historical event in the past: "EKEINOS EXHGHSATO" (that one unfolded
our understanding of the Father).
hOUTOS ESTIN hO ELQWN DI' hUDATOS KAI hAIMATOS IHSOUS XRISTOS (1 John
The tenor of the entire first Epistle of John is historical. Jesus came
and provided us with DIANOIAN--the capacity to understand the Father.
He came and taught us how to love others by dying PRO NOBIS (1 John
3:16). He CAME and bore witness to God, glorifying Him and zealously
announcing His heavenly kingdom in fulfillment of the numerous
prophecies that bore witness to him. All of these historical events are
recorded in the GNT. John even wrote:
POLLA MEN OUN KAI ALLA SHMEIA EPOIHSEN hO IHSOUS ENWPION TWN MAQHTWN hA
OUK ESTIN GEGRAMMENA EN TWi BIBLIWi TOUTWi TAUTA DE GEGRAPTAI hINA
PISTEUHTE hOTI IHSOUS ESTIN hO XRISTOS hO hUIOS TOU QEOU KAI hINA
PISTEUONTES ZWHN EXHTE EN TWi ONOMATI AUTOU (John 20:30, 31).
[George quoting Edgar]
"When the Beroeans came to know the true one, was it not through their
dilligent study of the Scriptures?"
"Their diligent study brought them to the 'EIDOMEN'
level, in terms of the above passage, and from there came the Son, etc.
[I am guessing here, because in my scriptural ignorance I have not even
heard of the Beroeans before!]"
Beroea was about fifty miles from Thessalonica. It lay on the eastern
slopes of Mt. Vermion in the Olympian mountain range (See Pohill "Acts"
The Beroeans are reported to have carefully examined the Scriptures
everyday to determine whether Paul and Silas were speaking the truth to
them. This search resulted in 'many Jews' becoming believers. I would
say they were past the point of OIDAMEN. They entered into a
relationship with the Most High God and His Son. They were at the level
of GINWSKW via their study of the Scriptures. (IMHO) Knowledge in a
Biblical sense is not only "head knowledge": it is relational
"The point here is that we do not KNOW God through
study of scripture, but only through God. There are tons of folks who
can read and study scripture till their eyes wear out and still not
know God! Reading God's Word does not give us KNOWLEDGE of God, in the
GINWSKW meaning of knowledge, but only in the EPISTHMH sense... Which
is knowing ABOUT God, you see..."
In view of Matt. 22:29-32, I would respectfully disagree. In this
Matthean pericope, Jesus offers a stinging rebuke to the Sadducees. He
informs them that that [sic] the reason they misunderstand the resurrection
of the dead is because of their Scriptural ignorance: "You know neither
the Scriptures nor the power of God."
"As regards the resurrection of the dead, did you not read what was
spoken to you hUPO QEOU LEGONTOS" (Matt. 22:31, 32).
Then Jesus references the account of the thornbush in Ex. 6. He
concludes that God is a God of the living, and not of the dead. How
does he arrive at this conclusion? By reflecting on the grammar of the
written record. This indicates that we can come to know God through a
careful reading of the Scriptures. I will concede your point, however.
There are many folks that read the Bible diligently and do not
understand [or know] God. This fact doesn't mean that one can't obtain knowledge of
God by reading Scripture (John 5:39ff).
[George quoting Edgar]
"Whenever Paul participated in his ministerial work, he reasoned with
people from the Scriptures, proving to them by references that Jesus is the Christ
(Acts 17:3, 4). I believe that he set an example for us, in this regard."
"No question about that, and what we overlook so
often is that he "came to them EN DUNAMIN..." His scriptural proofs
and reasonings would have had no impact at all without that power of the Spirit of the risen Christ actively supporting his efforts."
I agree 100%.
Take Care, George.