By William Burt Pope, D.D.,
GOD is ALL IN ALL throughout the whole compass of Theology: everywhere both its Subject and its Object and the unity of these. But there is a specific doctrine of God which falls into two branches: first, the existence of the Supreme Being as an object generally of human thought and knowledge; and, secondly, the more specific revelation of His nature and attributes. It is obvious that these two cannot be kept entirely distinct: each involves the other to a certain extent; but they may be usefully distinguished as God's revelation of Himself IN man and TO man as consummated in Holy Scripture.
THE EXISTENCE AND NOTION OF GOD.
The existence of God may be regarded either as an innate assurance or conviction of the human mind that needs no proof, or as a verity that demonstrates itself to reason by its credentials. According to the former view this eternal truth, the sum of all truth, is a necessary element in man's consciousness, as created in the Divine image. But, in consequence of the disturbance of human reason, it is necessary that theology should be prepared to arrange the elements of this consciousness into a formal system of arguments in defense of His existence. With this are inseparably bound up the reality and measure of the knowledge of God possible to man.
The Being of a God is at once an innate idea and a truth demonstrable and to be demonstrated. Here we use popular language which will receive its more full and sufficient explanation in due course.
The existence of God, God alone can reveal. He has wrought this supreme truth into the constitution of human nature as its Creator. Scripture, which never proves the being of the Eternal, appeals to this consciousness; it also gives the reason of its disturbance, and thus by anticipation obviates the force of every argument against it. The history of the human race demonstrates, by the very perversions of the idea of God to which it bears witness, the fact that His existence needs no demonstration. And there is no sound philosophical or psychological reasoning which can withstand this principle, rightly understood and adequately guarded.
I. The Scriptures, as addressed to man universal, assume that in his nature there is a consciousness of a Supreme Being, on Whom he depends, and to Whom he is responsible.
1. It gives the grounds of the sublime presupposition, of the knowledge which from Genesis to Revelation, speaking to Jews and Gentiles and the whole human creation of God, it everywhere takes for granted. It appeals to the law written in their hearts,1 which implies a Lawgiver; and to the sense of dependence which feels after the Source of all existence, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him: 2 find Him, Who is already known, in order to the relief of its fears and the satisfaction of its desires. But it goes even higher than this, and everywhere teaches that in the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him, 3 which has never been lost: for in Him we live and move and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 4 And, although we must not press this testimony too far, it most certainly declares this at least, that the very life of the dependent creature is bound up with the idea of its Independent Source, the very thought of God in man's mind—to anticipate a future argument—assumes that God is. It goes higher still, if possible. It declares that the eternal Logos or Word is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 5 And this precedes, in order of time and of thought, that higher revelation which follows: No man hath seen God at any time; the Onlybegotten [Son], Which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. 6 He is Himself the manifestation of the invisible God, but only as revealing Himself to a preparatory consciousness in mankind.
ekeínos exeegeésato: the Son expounded in a final exegesis the original text implanted in universal human nature.
1 Rom. 2:15; 2 Acts 17:27; 3 Gen, 5:1; 4 Acts 17:28; 5 John 1:9; 6 John 1:18.
2. Every objection that may be urged against the universality of this consciousness it obviates by showing that two reasons have obscured the truth in human nature: through sin men did not like to retain God in their knowledge; and therefore God gave them over to a reprobate mind,1 or a mind void of judgment. The only atheism that the Scripture admits is practical atheism: that which the fool hath said in his heart. 2 St. Paul speaks of the Gentiles as átheoi en toó kósmoo, ATHEISTS in the world. 3 But this is opposed to being in Christ; and signifies rather forsaken of God than either denying Him or entirely ignorant of Him, though these cannot be altogether excluded from the text.
1 Rom 1:28; 2 Psa. 14:1; 3 Eph. 2:12.
3. Hence the general proposition that our evidence of the Supreme is innate and connate.
This does not mean that the full knowledge is formed in every mind as an object of consciousness, but that the constitution of human nature is such that it naturally develops a consciousness of God when God presents Himself, even as it grows up into a consciousness of self and of the outer world. That consciousness of the Infinite Being may be morally perverted, even as the consciousness of self, and of the external world, may be intellectually perverted by a false philosophy. It may assume a thousand forms, from the blind fetish of abject superstition, through all the variations of Polytheism up to Pantheism, or the materialistic theories that unwittingly make the eternal evolutions of unintelligent law into the very Being Whom they reject. This leads at once to the theological arguments in proof of this fundamental truth.
All processes of this argument rest finally on the analysis of that original consciousness of God which is the birthright of man as a creature: hence they are derived, first, from an appeal to the nature of the human spirit itself; secondly, from a consideration of the relation of the human mind to the phenomena of the universe: and, thirdly, from the universal Theism of the race as the result of both. These arguments serve to show the groundlessness of all atheistic theories, whether they negatively exclude God, or positively assert His non-existence. But there is a limit to their demonstrative force as human evidences: they require the enforcement of the Holy-Spirit's influence as Divine credentials; and must in every case derive their strength from the further revelation of God as to His own essence and perfections.
The first and best credentials of the existence of a Supreme Being are found in the elements of human nature itself.
1. The simplest form of the argument is to be sought in the moral constitution of man, which in reason or conscience proclaims the existence of a Supreme Lawgiver, and in its desires and aspirations the existence of a Supreme Object for communion with whom it was made. These are elements of our nature and not the result of education; they are primary, intuitive, and universal; refusing at the outset all argument upon their origin. If conscience is the moral consciousness—its only sound definition—it as much implies a spiritual world into which man is born as consciousness generally implies the natural world. If it is the reason or heart or central personality of man it gives a testimony, supreme in the soul, to a Power Who rules in righteousness and hates iniquity. The rational law of our nature is its moral law. It points to a Holy Governor, Whom it suggests or to whom it appeals, above the visible world nothing in which is capable of exciting its emotions. And the universal feeling of dependence on a Being or a Person higher than ourselves reinforces this argument: the same heart in man which trembles before an authority above him yearns to be able to trust in Him. This may be called theMORAL demonstration.
2. This argument is known and read of all men. Another line of reasoning, also based upon the constitution of our nature, is not, however so obvious or not so immediately obvious to all minds. It is that there is in the spirit or reason of man a clear idea of a Perfect Being: there must be an objective reality corresponding to this. The argument is put in a variety of forms: for instance, we cannot conceive the non-existence of space and time: there must be an Infinite Substance, of whom these are the accidents or who must be at the ground of these. The ideas of infinity, eternity, absoluteness must have a reality somewhere: many who have denied the being of God have been obliged to invest matter or the world with some of these qualities. They are primary laws of thought; and strongly suggest what they may not be able to prove. They at any rate silently protest against Antitheism in every form. To this class belong all these impressive, and to some orders of mind most cogent, arguments derived from it, the ideas of infinite goodness and of unchangeable truths in the soul; these must have their ultimate ground in a Being of absolute and essential goodness and truth. The Platonic Ideas, essential and not phenomenal, must be eternally inherent in a Perfect Supreme. Multitudes of arguments have been reasoned out which are only variations on this. They show both their strength and their weakness in the position of Descartes that the thought of God implies the existence of God. Such reasoning is calledONTOLOGICAL, and sometimes by abuse of the term A PRIORI. It is too abstract for common use, and as usually put its reasoning is really A POSTERIORI : it infers a Divine Being, from premises already within; and strictly speaking belongs to the next department of our demonstration.
Arguments from the phenomena of the universe are divided into two closely related and in some sense identical branches.
1. First, theCOSMOLOGICAL reasoning demands a sufficient cause for every effect; and is therefore sometimes called the AEtiological argument, from aitia, cause. It has been used in every age, both within and without the sphere of revelation. Augustine gave it noble expression when he said: Interrogavi mundi molem de Deo meo, et respondit mihi: non ego sum, sed ipse me fecit. But the first words of the Bible respond by anticipation to the appeal for a sufficient reason of all things, a permanent Cause of all phenomenal and transitory existence. The idea of causation is a primary law of thought: not arising from the observation of sequence in things. The mind of man demands a cause of his own being, of the universe around him: the Eternal First Cause is an absolute necessity of thought. Discussions as to the nature of causality, and the origin of our notion of it, have been many. All they have done is to help us by urging that we have no right to assume that all existence must have what we call a cause. They cannot overturn our conviction that every event and every effect with a known origin must have a reason for its existence or occurrence. The material creation is a universe: we only know it as such; as such science demonstrates that it had a beginning and a law. There is nothing absolutely permanent in matter as we know it; we cannot track it beyond its arrangements; its ultimate constitution is a composition of atoms. And of the universe as we know it there must have been a Cause of supernatural Power and Wisdom. This holds good of every combination of molecules and of the stupendous universe itself. No subordinate cause can be a cause properly speaking. The mind never rests but in a Cause uncaused: free, intelligent, and, we may perhaps add, omnipotent.
2. Secondly, theTELEOLOGICAL form of this argument—from telos, the end, —observes the infinite proofs of a designing Mindin the laws and arrangements of the universe. This is not a question of Final Causes, to which the human mind is incompetent to ascend: that is of final in the sense of ultimate. It is a question of the adaptations of everything to an end in itself, also of all things to ends in relation to other things united in one aggregate or unity. This physico-theological argument derives its materials from the creation everywhere, as well as from the adaptation of man's mental and spiritual faculties to the world around. Hence the field in which it expatiates is literally boundless. All the physical sciences unconsciously provide the argument with its premises; and no sound science, physical or metaphysical, rejects the conclusion. Mathematics, the alphabet of physical science, only detects the quantitative laws of the universe. And every science without exception shows that the order and adaptation and harmonies of nature are such as make the chances no less than infinite against the supposition of Chaos, or the absence of one designing intelligence. Newton's words concerning astronomy are true of all regions of science: Elegantissima haecce compages solis, planetarum, et cometarum et stellarum non nisi consilio et dominio entis cujusdam potentis et intelligent oriri potuit.
And all that is said as to the adaptations of inorganic and organic nature may be said of the relation of the human mind to the whole. The cumulative argument is literally irresistible to all but those who deny final causes altogether, and with that denial make everything the result of chance.
These two classes of arguments, separately or in combination, consciously or unconsciously, have largely swayed the general thought of mankind. The world has been more or lessTHEISTIC from the beginning: the idea of a supernatural world and supernatural beings has never been absent. This is the testimony of Scripture; universal history consents; and the fact is itself a strong subordinate auxiliary to all other reasoning. The modern science, so called, of Comparative Religions has done good service in showing that even the forms of the perversion of Theism bear witness to the truth: Polytheism and Pantheism, which are only distortions of the one great idea, and have, for the most part, divided mankind, are evidences almost universal of the force of the conclusions drawn from the constitution of human nature and the evidences of inferior powers controlled by the Supreme Power in the universe. Natural religion is at once proof of the irresistible force of these arguments and itself an additional argument.
This leads to a consideration of the value or sufficiency of argumentation on this subject: in other words, of the question whether the existence of God can be demonstrated at all.
There is a limitation which may be referred to the great question itself, as also one that may be referred to the mind of him who disbelieves.
1. It cannot be denied that the perversion of the human intellect under evil influence is such that it may refuse to accept, or be incapable of perceiving, the evidence of the being of such a Deity as these arguments demonstrate. Man may sink into such a state as to think himself an atheist: indeed, he may suppress the idea of God in his nature altogether.
Although, generally speaking, pure atheism is rare, and still rarer anti-theism, or the revolt against the possibility of the supremacy of One Ruler of the universe, yet both are to be found among men of unquestionable strength of intellect. This is a phenomenon of which a good account may be given. It may be fairly said that the idea of God is generally rejected only in the sense of being disguised. The unknown and unknowable Force of the philosophy of Nescience, or the Pantheistic Absolute evolving itself in all things, is only the Christian Creator under a most unworthy name. The modern Materialist whose creed is, Matter I know, and force I know, but what is God? is unconsciously asserting the Power he denies: he belongs to the class of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.1 Their unrighteousness may not be deliberate defiance of the eternal laws of morality; but it is most certainly injustice to the clearest and most explicit demands of their own nature which cries out for the Living God.
1 Rom. 1:18.
2. But the argument that arises to prove the being of the Supreme is undoubtedly beset with many difficulties. These are found mainly in the anomalies of the moral world as under the will of a supposed Divine Providence: anomalies which are as it were reflected in the physical world as the sphere of that Providence. These difficulties we have to meet hereafter at many points where they specially press. Meanwhile it is enough to say that such obstacles to faith produce different effects on different minds. Some they lead to pureATHEISM: that is, the simple omission of the notion of God from the sum of things, nothing being left but a material universe the highest form of whose blind and undirected and causeless energy is thought. But this may take a skeptical form, and decline to pronounce on the non-existence of God. It may object to the system of MATERIALISM or POSITIVISM as unphilosophically positive, and content itself with the assertion of NESCIENCE. But it may so brood over the obliquities of the known universe as to reach the point of a desolate and bold ANTITHEISM, pronouncing the existence of One Supreme, at once all-powerful and infinitely loving, an impossibility.
3. One secret of this antitheistic sentiment among men is the failure to weigh well the whole argument all round. No one demonstration is sufficient of itself. Each gives and receives strength when viewed as one element in a reasoning which has unbounded resources. A narrow view of things, fixing its thought upon some one fascinating discord, may lead to the rejection of God: a large and wide view of the whole, as by a necessity of thought under the supremacy of some vast unity of government, can never accept either Atheism or Antitheism. But another secret is that the disturbance of sin has rendered a Divine assertion of God Himself necessary. Man may refuse to believe and argue himself into what is very much like the ridding and baring his mind of all idea of Divinity. Hence, secondly, all the demonstrations usually given of the existence of the Supreme are simply the preliminaries to the revelation of the Divine nature by the Eternal Word and the Eternal Spirit. In fact, and to speak boldly, they arc rather for those who believe already than for those who believe not. At any rate, the very best exhibition of arguments in favor of the existence of the Deity leaves the subject imperfect, until the revelation of His nature and name and attributes gives the demonstration its crown and completeness.
Revelation is in the highest sense Theology, or the science of the knowledge of God. This knowledge must be considered, first, as possible to man, and then as imparted to him.
The former involves the question in what sense man may know the Supreme and Absolute Being; and the latter in what way this Being has revealed His essence and His attributes to His creature capable of that knowledge. The conception of the Divine nature which is possible to man is of necessity partial and limited; but it is true knowledge, as corresponding to reality in its Object; and, for the regulation of man's life of faith, it is sufficient. The establishment of these propositions will show the harmony between all sound philosophy and Divine revelation.
THE NOTION OF GOD PARTIAL BUT REAL AND SUFFICIENT.
I. When Scripture speaks of God as dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see,1 it means what philosophy means when it says that we cannot define in our thought the Infinite. We cannot comprehend God in the sense of understanding Him in His essence, attributes, and universal relations. Deus cognosci potest, comprehendi non potest. We cannot search and find Him out unto perfection. He is and must be to every created faculty, and that for ever, in some sense an UNKNOWN GOD. None but the Infinite can know the Infinite. St. Paul's testimony, as given above, may be said to close the long array of Scriptural testimonies on this subject.
After an endless abundance of revelations, in which man's knowledge of God is asserted with almost every variation of the term knowledge, it declares that in some sense He still remains incomprehensible. Something has been said on this subject when Revelation was in question, and something will be said under the Divine Attributes; it will be needful now only to show that the Biblical doctrine of the unknowableness of God mediates between two extremes of philosophical thought. On the one hand, it corrects the error that there can be no knowledge of the Divine Being as an object of faith; and, on the other, it corrects the error that the Divine Being is or can be perfectly revealed in the reason of man.
1 1 Tim. 6:16; 1. However paradoxical it may seem, it is true that theology has to defend the doctrine of the unsearchableness of Deity. There is a Pantheistic and transcendental philosophy which in some sense makes man the measure of God, and boasts that the human reason is capable of the knowledge of the Supreme in the same sense and to the same extent as it is capable of any other knowledge. This error may be viewed in two lights.
(1.) It exaggerates the prerogative of reason as an organ of truth. By reason is here meant that transcendental faculty which is supposed intuitively to take cognizance of the Infinite. According to Hegel, who with all his obscurity is the best representative of this Pantheistic philosophy, God knows Himself in man, the human consciousness of Him is His own consciousness finding expression in human thought more or less distinct according to the measure of intellect, but always a clear intuition of the Infinite. There is an infinite, impersonal, and Divine reason in mankind of which each individual has his share; and in short man's knowledge of God is simply God knowing Himself in him.
Hence God is man in miniature, and man is a fragment of God.
(2.) This error makes man the measure of Deity, and reduces the Supreme essence to a subjective creation of man's own mind. The Infinite and Absolute One is brought within the limits of human thought, being only the negation of the finite or its correlative: the finite and the infinite being each a distinct conception and finding their unity in the term God. But from this negative or negation to the positive nothing of the older Pantheistic mystics there is but a step. This philosophy, professing to make God simply what He is to us and in us, really removes Him to a measureless distance: He is epekeina pashs ousias, the superessential being which is of course no being at all. Thus extremes meet: the Divinity Who is contracted within the limits of human thought, and brought too close at hand, is really sent afar off.1 Such an adventurous theory of a perfect cognizance of the Infinite by a human faculty which is God Himself within us really destroys the knowledge of the Infinite and Eternal Being altogether.
1 Jer. 23:23.
(3.) Hence we must impress upon our minds the fact that all our knowledge of God is limited: limited in us for ever as we are creatures, limited in its impartation to us as we are creatures whose faculties of knowledge are in themselves under the limitations of time and space, and limited still further as our faculties are impaired and disturbed by sin.
2. Modern religious philosophy has betrayed a tendency to go to the opposite extreme, and to exaggerate the unthinkableness and the unknowableness of God. The limits of religious thought are defined by too narrow a theory, which postulates three things: that there can be no knowledge of the Absolute whatever as a Person, an absolute unconditioned personality being inconceivable and incogitable; that what of God we cannot know we may nevertheless and must believe in. despite of reason: and that consequently all our knowledge of God is Regulative Knowledge simply, not answering to truth in Him but given us in this life for the direction of our thoughts and lives. On this theory a few remarks may be made, preparatory to the next principle that our knowledge of God is so far as it goes real.
(1.) It begs the question throughout. It assumes to know that very absolute and infinite which it professes not to know. It is itself thinking the unthinkable and conceiving the inconceivable. How does it know that the Infinite cannot be a Person, that infinity and personality are contradictory terms? How does it know that personality is essentially a limitation and a relation? It is so in a finite creature; but who that knows not the Infinite Being can dare to say that it is so withHIM or with IT? Here the entire subject might be left: this perilous hypothesis is at all points a glaring petitio principii.
(2.) It dishonors both the reason that it disparages and the faith which it dignifies. It makes reason pronounce that an infinite consciousness is a contradiction, that there cannot be an absolute cause of anything not itself; and, at the same timer demands that faith should accept what reason absolutely denies. This brings reason and faith into a most incongruous and mutually degrading conflict. Were the position this, that reason is the faculty judging according to sense, and faith the faculty that carries reason into the region of spiritual existence, correcting its error and supplementing its defects, we might understand and accept it. But that faith is obliged to accept what is not merely above reason but directly contradicted by it, that faith is directed to an Object utterly unknown and utterly unknowable, is an assumption that undermines the foundations of truth.
3. This theory leads to very dangerous issues as it teaches the doctrine of a merely regulative knowledge. The very word regulative indicates the peril: our knowledge of God is given us for the direction not only of our thoughts but of our lives also. If our thoughts of Him do not correspond to the reality, the Author of our mental constitution forces us to believe what is not true. But God who cannot err cannot deceive us. If our conscience and sense of responsibility to a Judge, if our desires for communion with a Personal Father, have no corresponding realities, where is our religion and where the Gospel on which it rests? We cannot exaggerate the importance of what is at stake here.
II. Hence the knowledge we have of God is, therefore, a real knowledge. There are many ways in which it pleases the Supreme to reveal Himself: but they all imply that He gives us a true perception of His own nature so far as it goes. He does not deceive us as to His being; and the mental conception of Himself to which He trains us corresponds to the reality: thus our knowledge is real as in us and real as of Him.
1. All here depends on the meaning and extent of the term knowledge; and again much also depends on the distinction between knowledge generally and the specific knowledge which in Scripture is appropriated for our use concerning the Deity.
(1.) Knowledge is the true and right relation of the knowing mind to the object known.
God is the absolute truth, and when our conceptions are conformable to that object we know God. Now, it is of the essence of the Infinite that it passeth knowledge; and the conception of a Being who cannot be fully comprehended in His eternal nature is a true knowledge of Him, a knowledge in us conformed to the truth in Him. The conception of the general term for God is true to His nature. It is part of its truth that it does not profess to perceive by immediate presentation His very essence. In no sense does it assume to see God. But it is a true knowledge we have of Him, just as it is a true knowledge that we have of our souls which we do not see, of the existence of matter which we do not see, and of all other objects of our cognizance, so far as concerns their nature in themselves and apart from their secondary properties. There is no definition of knowledge which does not admit of our truly knowing God.
(2.) But it must be remembered that the Scriptures distinguish the knowledge which is allied with true faith from every other kind of knowledge. It admits that the Gentiles knew God; and their knowledge was in a certain sense connected with their faith in the testimony of their own consciousness and of the external world. That faith reached a very high point in some of the most enlightened of the heathen; as for instance in Plato, whose definition of God has never been surpassed in sublimity: Light is the shadow of the Deity, Lumen est umbra Dei, et Deus est Lumen luminis. Nor need we doubt that the influences of the Divine Spirit glowed in the minds of many of the ancient philosophers to whom, as Jamblichus said, Esse nostrum est Deum cognoscere, to know God is our very being. We must not, however, forget that since we have seen the Father in Christ, both faith and knowledge have put on their perfection.1 Faith in Jesus has become strengthened to behold more directly than before its Eternal Object; our dim conception has been transfigured into the certitude of knowledge: gnosis, has become, so to speak, epignosis.
Man's notion of the Divine Being has undergone its final change in this world; and the reality of our knowledge has become more real. It may be said that the most emphatic terms that could be used are used to describe our possible acquaintance with the Divine Being.
1 John 14:9.
2. It is the true knowledge of a reality in God, of thatENS REALE which answers to the ENS RATIONIS in the human mind here we must remember that we are not left to ontological or metaphysical speculation. The assumption of our theology is that God reveals Himself to man as made in His own image, and permits him to infer the perfection in his Maker of what in himself is imperfect. The entire course of Scripture sanctions and encourages this view. What is called ANTHROPOMORPHISM is the style adopted by the Almighty when He speaks and acts as a man. This is the prevalent method of the Bible; where God speaks to man as the finite copy of His infinite Self. He says, My thoughts are not your thoughts, 1 but only in the sense of being nobler; and, neither are your ways My ways, but only in the sense of being better. We are not deceived by Him 2 when we are encouraged to think that the same things are true in Him and in us. Personality, power, goodness, truth, love, are reflections in us of His image; realities in us corresponding to realities in Him.
He that planted the ear, shall He not hear?He that formed the eye, shall He not see?3 This is the poetry of Anthropomorphism; but it teaches the profound truth that we are transcripts from an eternal Archetype, after which we are refashioned by being conformed to the Image of the invisible God, the Son of God incarnate, the Firstborn of every creature. 4 The Incarnation is the pledge that human nature may have a true knowledge of the Divine.
1 Isa. 55:8; 2 1 John 2:8; 3 Psa. 94:9; 4 Col. 1:15.
III. The knowledge of which man is capable, and which he Sufficient receives, is sufficient: sufficient for the purpose of probation in his present estate, where he only waits, at the threshold of eternal knowledge, for the more direct vision of God.
1. There is an important sense in which the modern expression Regulative Knowledge is strictly appropriate, and may be rescued from its misapplication. It is a disclosure adapted to our probationary condition; and as such is sufficient for our worship and our duty, for our hope and our fear, for our contemplation and our desire. For the present we have a reflected presentation in a mirror darkly, we know in part.1 But it must be remembered that the Savior, the Only Revealer, has assured us how high is this regulative and imperfect knowledge. It is that indeed, but much more than that: it is the light of life.
2 He makes it most emphatically a continuation and bestowment of His own Divinehuman knowledge: Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him. 3 The Being Whom the New Testament reveals is very different from the abstract and inconceivable form of being which, rather than whom, modern philosophy would substitute. Such a God, without form and void, neither the knowledge of the understanding nor the knowledge of the heart will be content to receive.
1 1 Cor. 13:12; 2 John 8:12; 3 Mat. 11:27.
2. Divines formerly distinguished between aTHEOLOGIA VIATORUM and a THEOLOGIA BEATORUM: the theology of the pilgrims and the theology of the beatified. Of the future notion of God of which the beatific vision will be the medium the Scripture tells us that it will be that which we now have made perfect. Then shall we KNOW even as we ARE KNOWN: 1 the knowledge in part shall not be exchanged for a truer knowledge, only for a knowledge more full. The one knowledge is the preparation for the other, and will vanish away: 2 vanish only as encumbered with symbols and images and innumerable restrictions of the flesh which weighs down the incorruptible spirit; vanish only as the old law vanished when it disappeared and yet reappeared in a new law, the law of the everlasting Gospel.
1 1 Cor 13:12; 2 1 Cor. 13:8.