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Knowledge of self, knowledge of God

By Dave Henning / November 27, 2018

“Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God.  Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.  But as these are connected by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.”- John Calvin, Institutes

In his Conclusion (“Calvin Meets Hobbes”) of Didn’t See It Coming, Carey Nieuwhof suggests an alternative to Thomas Hobbes’ observation that life is nasty, brutish, and short.  Thus, Pastor Nieuwhof asserts, you can see it coming.  And when you do, Hobbes’ comment won’t become your epitaph.

John Calvin, Carey notes, believed that those without knowledge of self will never fully know God.  However, Pastor Nieuwhof sees this as a challenge for Christians.  For Christians, he posits, sometimes overspiritualize life.  Because, Carey adds, it’s so much easier to look inward than to look upward or outward.

Looking inward exposes the depth of our feelings.  And, frankly, we’d rather focus on the feelings of others.  Calvin, though, started with looking inward.  So, how do you know yourself?  What will help you see it coming every time?  Pastor Nieuwhof puts it simply: self-awareness coupled with a close walk with God.  The author explains:

“When you are intimately in touch with your own emotions and inclinations and deeply knowledgeable about the ways of God,, you’ll have a much better chance of seeing it- whatever it is.  Self-aware people have a conscious knowledge of their motives, desires, feelings, and character. . . .  The more self-aware you are, the more likely you are to see it coming.”

Today’s question: Do you agree with Calvin that you’ll never fully know God without knowledge of yourself? Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The things we accomplish unredeemed”

About the author

Dave Henning