Food Fight at the Banquet of Life
My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Jeremiah 2:13
How you understand Christianity makes a big difference in how you proclaim it.
Is the Word of God a set of intellectual propositions to be defended? Well, it can certainly be approached on that level. We can analyze the truth of propositions -- very much like analyzing the nutritional content of our food. But if we always analyze our food and never eat it, we starve. As a group, we Christians often analyze our spirituality, compare analytical models amongst groups, and even have "food fights" amongst ourselves -- all this while many are spiritually starving.
This is a very intellectual time in history, and that is in general a good thing. In my trade as a programmer, I'm glad that information and logic skills are in high demand. But when we think that's all there is, we've done ourselves a disservice. Undeserving ideas like "are we brains in a vat?" actually gain a faddish currency in a climate in which many of us live our lives almost as if we were brains on legs instead of whole persons. Our spirituality can become mere intellectualism.
The problem is not that people are simply uneducated about the things of God, it's that we're spiritually starving. Neither does propositional knowledge, even truly and properly understood, satisfy that hunger. Our souls feed on joy, mystery, beauty, power, holiness, hope, and -- as "unintellectual" as it is to say so -- especially on love. Our soul's proper food is not knowledge about God, but is God Himself. Our greatest command is not to analyze God but to love him with heart, mind, soul, and strength. The analytical person quickly seizes on "loving with our minds" -- but it is doubtful how often our pursuits in analyzing God satisfy what it means to "love with our minds" if the pursuit is dry and tiresome and therefore plainly far from the Spirit of God. Analyzing the things of God is useful in its place, but it amounts to just playing with our food if we never go beyond analyzing, if we never go to the next step of taking and eating.
In the Scriptures, "He teaches me" is offset by "He restores my soul." "Do you understand?" is offset by "Come to me and rest".
Propositional knowledge of God is a dry fountain. God does not present himself to us as a treatise or a syllogism, but as a Person. He does not ask that we define him or analyze him, but that we love him and make him our food, our drink, our Father.
"Knowledge becomes love", said St. Gregory of Nyssa -- and that is the knowledge that honors God. That is the kind of "knowledge of God" that brings people to eternal life.
"The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13