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Drop your concepts, drop your opinions, drop your prejudices, drop your judgments, and you will see.

The word “God,” it’s only a word, a concept. We never argue about reality; we only argue about opinions, about concepts, about judgments. Drop your concepts, drop your opinions, drop your prejudices, drop your judgments, and you will see.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ introduction to his Summa Theologica: “Since we cannot know what God is, but only what God is not, we cannot consider how God is but only how He is not.” The highest degree of the knowledge of God is to know God as the unknown. Thomas also says, “This is what is ultimate in the human knowledge of God—to know that we do not know God.”

There is a Sanskrit saying: “neti, neti.” It means: “not that, not that.” Thomas’ own method was referred to as the via negativa, the negative way. C. S. Lewis wrote a diary while his wife was dying. It’s called A Grief Observed. He had married an American woman whom he loved dearly. He told his friends, “God gave me in my sixties what He denied me in my twenties.” He hardly had married her when she died a painful death of cancer. Lewis said that his whole faith crumbled, like a house of cards. Sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is to be awakened to reality, for calamity to strike, for then we come to faith, as C. S. Lewis did. He said that he never had any doubts before about people surviving death, but when his wife died, he was no longer certain. Why? Because it was so important to him that she be living. Lewis, as you know, is the master of comparisons and analogies. He says, “It’s like a rope. Someone says to you, ‘Would this bear the weight of a hundred twenty pounds? You answer, ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, we’re going to let down your best friend on this

rope.’ Then you say, ‘Wait a minute, let me test that rope again.’ You’re not so sure

now.” Lewis also said in his diary that we cannot know anything about God and even our

questions about God are absurd. Why? It’s as though a person born blind asks you, “The

color green, is it hot or cold?” Neti, neti, not that. “Is it long or is it short?” Not that. “Is it

sweet or is it sour?” Not that. “Is it round or oval or square?” Not that, not that. The blind

person has no words, no concepts, for a color of which he has no idea, no intuition, no

experience. You can only speak to him in analogies. No matter what he asks, you can

only say, “Not that.” C. S. Lewis says it’s like asking how many minutes are in the color yellow. Everybody could be taking the question very seriously, discussing it, fighting about it. One person suggests there are twenty-five carrots in the color yellow, the other person says, “No, seventeen potatoes,” and they’re suddenly fighting. Not that, not that!

This is what is ultimate in our human knowledge of God, to know that we do not

know. The great tragedy is that we think we know; so we never discover. In fact, Thomas Aquinas says repeatedly, “All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly.”


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