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Thursday, June 16, 2005
Experiential Epistemology
I am continuing to ponder this idea of Spirit Knowing. When it comes to the Trinity, so many forms of knowing are inferior. This is at the heart of Paul's praying for the Church. Check out this one from Ephesians 1:

17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead

and this one from Ephesians 3

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

and this one from Colossians 1

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God

See any trends in these prayers?


posted by John David Walt | at 6/16/2005 10:10:00 AM



Blogger JohnDeere said...

A further question: what implications should this have for the season of seminary? it seems like i remember nouwen commenting on seminary education near the end of his book- in the name of jesus. any recollection of that guy?

12:34 PM EDT  
Anonymous Scott said...


I had to post this somewhere. It’s connected to your thoughts on extravagant friendship.

I don’t know about you, but I am not transformed by many of the sermons I hear preached lately. Louie Giglio, Andy Stanley, and Erwin McManus are outstanding communicators but often they lack a certain nourishment I hunger for. They are GREAT storytellers but I usually leave remembering their stories and not the biblical story. The intent of my post is not to be critical of them (they have had a significant impact in many of my friends) but rather, I want to share with you that I have found someone who has a gift for unfolding the text and still connecting the text to ordinary people like myself—his name is Timothy Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan. What is interesting about Keller (for those of us who are Weslyan’s) is he is a Presbyterian with a strong missional theology and is passionate about the social implications of the gospel. Check out Redeemers website www.redeemer.com and order a couple of their mp3’s. There are two I would encourage you to look for are A Better Resurrection (3-27-2005) & Friendship (5/29/05).

His message on Friendship has been an epiphany. Here is a detailed outline to wet your appetite and consume space on your blog.

Proverbs 17:17; 18:24; 25:17,20; 26:18,19; 27:5,6,9,14,17; 28:23; 29:5

This sermon is part of his wisdom series based on the Book of Proverbs.
Wisdom: knows the right thing to do in a situation where the moral rules are not addressed.

A wise person is one who is great at choosing, forging, and keeping terrific friendships. His outline is the uniqueness of friendship, discovering a friend, forging a friend, and where do we get the power to do this?

1. The Uniqueness of Friendship.

Why is a friend better than a brother?
--Family is always there during adversity, because they are family. Your family does not choose you and you do not choose them. You may love them but you may not necessarily want to go have a drink with them.
--A friend is someone who chooses you.
--Or society value romantic love but friendship love is sacrificial love.
--Friendship love is the only love that is deliberate.

2. Discovery of Friends.
--Friendship requires a foundation, an affinity, a common love, a common vision that cannot be created but only discovered.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “friendship does not ask do you love me, so much as do you see the same truth.”
C.S. Lewis wrote, “the typical expression of opening friendship is something like, what you too…I thought I was the only one.”

3. Forging Friendship.
--Once discovered the friendship must be forged.
--Proverbs suggest 4 true marks of friendship (constancy, carefulness, candor, and counsel.)

A. Constancy
--A friend loves at all times.
--A friend will not let you go ruined.
--A friend is there because a friend has not deliberately made you a means to an end but and end in itself. A friend goes to the mat and says I wont let you get to the bottom. I’ll be there even if it cost me something.

B. Carefulness
--In friendship you give the gift of emotional connectedness voluntarily.
--Here is how you can tell if you really have become a friend or have made a friend…you cannot go about singing songs when their heart is heavy.

C. Candor
--A friendly wound is a metaphor for words a friend needs that are going to be painful for a friend to hear but they have to hear.
--As I tell you this it actually hurts me too.

D. Counsel
--Someone can be earnest and trustworthy because they desire what is best for you.

Basically…A friend always lets you in and never lets you down.

When we look at this two thoughts come to mind. (1) A feeling of longing…because often our friendships are taken away even before we can build them. (2) It’s crushing because we don’t measure up. We are not the kind of friends we want to be.

This is where the message gets really good.

4. Where does the power to do all this come from?
--The answer, the night before Jesus died He tries to get the meaning of what He is about to His disciples.
--In John 15 Jesus tries to get his point across by referring to friendship.
--The whole history of the world can be understood by friendship.
--God is a friend (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) loving one another.
--He made us in his image…and we need friendship with Him and each other.
--In Genesis 3 we read that God is walking in the cool of the night. This is a Hebrew metaphor for friendship.

--Jesus says, “I am the ultimate friend who will cleave to you at infinite cost to myself so you will not be ruined.

--On the cross Jesus lost his friendship with God so we can have friendship with God.

--As Jesus is in the garden with His friends who are asleep God says you either have to choose to go to hell of lose your friends and Jesus says he’ll go to hell. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother so we are not ruined.

--If I know this, it liberates me to be the friend I want to be. Jesus lets me all the way in and trusts me and loves me no matter what so now I can move out without being afraid of rejection because all my eggs are not in the human friendship basket. When I am liberated to be the great friend I want to be, by the greatest friendship of Jesus Christ, then I will find myself getting the great friends I need to have.

--Make Him the friend your heart desires and you will have all the friends your heart needs.

O.K. JD now that I am not posting on the Asbury blog I may have to start my own. Only a true friend would let me take up all this space on his blog.


5:48 PM EDT  
Blogger gmw said...

Hey JD,

Yeah, there is a kind and way of knowing that is deeply relational. From perceiving a connection with someone in early stages of becoming friends to deep appreciate for the grace with which a spouse loves you, relational knowing comes from interaction, which does not exclude mental knowing, but is not merely mental or even emotional knowing--it's soul knowing. At least when it comes to relationships of intimacy. The knowledge of God's mercy in the face of my sin and corruption is deep, rattling-in-the-bones knowing--not merely intellectual or emotional but some combination that goes beyond the ingredients.

It's strongest the more intimate the relationship, but part of my point is that even when there are lower levels of intimacy, relational knowing is still crucial. Relational knowing comes because of the other person's engagement of us (or even perhaps, lack of or disengagement). Forgiveness is like that. Mercy, grace, expectation, approval, love. All of these we know mentally and emotionally and such, but not merely so--there is an impression that is made in the midst of the reasoning, the empathizing. It's an impression in which "deep calls to deep." It's what we refer to in one sense as "non-verbal" language.

God's "non-verbal" language in which we perceive deeply his love, mercy, and will for us (all those things Paul mentions in the Ephesians and Colossians quotes), that are "impressions" that we get when speaking with another person, come from the Spirit. "Spirit-impressions" are gifts of God's self-revealing and are realities of true relationship, at whatever stage of relationship.

I don't know Abby's love for me simply because she says it and I process it mentally, nor merely because of an emotional feeling though these are critical. I know it because of a deep soul-knowing in my spirit as "deep calls to deep." The words can be hollow and the emotions can be mistaken, but the impression of spirit on spirit wraps these up in itself and so much more. With God, this must be even more so. Once again, I'm trying, by God's gracious Spirit, to become a "Scholar-Mystic" who listens deeply to God integratively in all the gracious ways in which he might call "from deep to deep."

12:36 PM EDT  
Blogger gmw said...

Ok, an additional shorter post...

"Experiential Epistemology" is what I love about Wesleyanism. Wesley, the scholar and driven worker, assured of his salvation through an experience of the Holy Spirit in which the knowledge was given him as a gift. Luke Timothy Johnson has a great course from "The Teaching Company" called "Early Christianity: Experience of the Divine" in which he argues that the heart of early Christianity was the peoples' experience of the Risen Christ. I'm paraphrasing his definition of religious experience here, but it's something like, "a transformational experience with Ultimate Power." "Ultimate Power"--I like the hugeness and the dynamism of that--most definitely what Saul perceived he was dealing with on the Damascus Road!

Also, the emphasis in these prayers of Paul and all of the Scriptural Narrative is that we know because God graciously choose to reveal himself to us, not because we are smart, clever, perceptive, lucky, etc. It is a gift to be received. I think "Revelation Epistemology" is essentially the same thing as I think what you are getting at with "Experiential Epistemology."

Last thing: Peterson has a quote from John Calvin at the beginning of one of his chapters in A Long Obedience that goes like this: "True knowledge of God is born out of obedience." How 'bout that for one aspect of experiential epistemology!

12:48 PM EDT  

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