Twelve Ways to Know GodPETER KREEFT
Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God (Jn 17:3). What are the ways? In how many different ways can we know God, and thus know eternal life?
I take an inventory, I find twelve.
- The final, complete, definitive
way, of course, is Christ, God himself in
- His church is his body,
so we know God also through the church.
- The Scriptures
are the church's book. This book, like Christ himself, is called "The Word
- Scripture also says we can know God in nature
see Romans 1. This is an innate, spontaneous, natural knowledge. I think no one
who lives by the sea, or by a little river, can be an atheist.
also reveals God. I know three ex-atheists who say, "There is the music of
Bach, therefore there must be a God." This too is immediate.
is the voice of God. It speaks absolutely, with no ifs, ands, or buts. This too
is immediate. [The last three ways of knowing God (4-6) are natural, while the
first three are supernatural. The last three reveal three attributes of God, the
three things the human spirit wants most: truth, beauty, and goodness. God has
filled his creation with these three things. Here are six more ways in which we
can and do know God.]
- Reason, reflecting
on nature, art, or conscience, can know God by good philosophical arguments.
life, your story, can also reveal God. You can see the hand of Providence there.
collective experience of the race, embodied
in history and tradition, expressed in literature, also reveals God.You can know
God through others' stories, through great literature.
- The saints
reveal God. They are advertisements, mirrors, little Christs. They are perhaps
the most effective of all means of convincing and converting people.
ordinary daily experience of doing God's will
will reveal God. God becomes clearer to see when the eye of the heart is purified:
"Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."
meets God ordinary prayer. You learn more of God from a few minutes of
prayerful repentance than through a lifetime in a library.
Christians sometimes have family fights aboutthese ways, and treat them as either/or
instead of both/and. They all support each other, and nothing could be more foolish
than treating them as rivals for example, finding God in the church versus
finding God in nature, or reason versus experience, or Christ versus art.
you have neglected any of these ways, it would be an excellent idea to explore
them. For instance, pray using great music. Or take an hour to review your life
some time to see God's role in your past. Read a great book to better meet and
know and glorify God. Pray about it first.
Add to this list, if you can.
There are more ways of finding and knowing God than any one essay can contain.
Or any one world.
Kreeft. “Twelve Ways to Know God".
Reprinted by permission of Peter Kreeft
Kreeft has written extensively (over
25 books) in the areas of Christian apologetics. Link to all of Peter Kreeft's
Kreeft teaches at Boston College in Boston Massachusetts. He is on the Advisory
Board of the Catholic Educator's Resource Center.
Copyright © 2002 Peter