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The four dimensions of knowing (4)

The man [a paraplegic for 38 years who was healed by Jesus] went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. [John’s biography of Jesus Christ 5: 15-18 c. AD 30]


The World Wide Web is making knowledge available on an unprecedented scale. Our computers and mobile phones make available a huge encyclopaedia.  But how much of it do we actually know? Precious little?


In fact the availability of the knowledge may well mean that we will all know less and less in future. Because stuff is available on computer why not leave it there and not make the effort to know it within?


This “no-need-to-know-within” is a worrying thought. But it’s not new!


A theory of real knowing – knowing within - was put forward by Professor James Loder when he was Professor of the Philosophy of Christian Education at Princeton Theological Seminary. He proposed four dimensions of knowing.


First dimension: a baby knows the world around him by seeing it, handling it and putting it in its mouth. Call this knowing within the “Lived World.” 


Second dimension: the child realises that there’s not only the lived world out there. He (“he” includes “she” from now on) now knows within that he exists, that he is the centre of his Lived World. Call this knowing the “Self.”


Third dimension: as an adult he is able (if he allows it) to know within something very uncomfortable, very worrying. He begins to see that there are serious problems that cannot be resolved. One is sickness. Another is competition from friends – and enemies. Yet another is inability within. And then there’s wrong within, evil within. Finally, there’s death – his own death. Professor Loder called any and all of these the “Void”.


The Void is OK as long as it is happening to others. What happens when we know within that the Void is real – for me?


Professor Loder’s fourth dimension of knowing within is the knowledge of the “Holy”. This knowledge within comes only when the Void is known within. If the Void is denied or suppressed or put away certain consequences are inevitable. The worst consequence is never to know within the Holy.


But there are other consequences. Take a look at the words in bold above.


The Void was well known within by the paraplegic. He had come to know within the Holy. And he was fantastically transformed by .this knowledge within.


The Jewish leaders of the day had denied the Void within themselves. They were right – others were foolish. They weren’t weak. They were well-off. They had power – no Void there for them.


Why then were they persecuting Jesus? That’s easy. Jesus was popular. Fortunately (for them) he was wrong (in their view). Jesus was in the Void, not them. They could prove it – Jesus had healed the paraplegic on the Sabbath. He’s evil – not them.


Jesus gave them an answer (My Father is working until now, and I am working.) to what they were (by denying the Void) refusing to know within. But this had the sole effect of confirming that refusal of knowledge within. They decided that “….not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.He’s wrong; we’re right. Nothing must disturb our Void-free “happiness”.


Yes, the Void can be denied. Let’s turn up our music. But the Holy is then rejected. They “were seeking all the more to kill him.”


No wonder so many Jersey folk have done away with Jesus (the Holy). They kill Jesus because they say there’s no Void.  

‘That knowledge which puffs up will at last puff down.' (Joseph Caryl, Christian minister, 1602-1673)
‘Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves.’ (John Calvin, French Pastor and theologian, 1509-1564)
Richard Syvret

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