Daily Riches: The Limitations of Knowledge (Donald McCullough, Thomas Aquinas and G. K. Chesterton)

“Some things–perhaps the most important–cannot be grasped, regardless of the reach of one’s intellectual prowess. They can only be received. There is a knowledge that cannot be gained by thinking or reasoning or deducing or inducing or experimenting or theorizing; it comes to us, not from us, and it can only be acknowledged, with gratitude and surprise, when it appears in an open heart. We can prepare for this knowledge, paradoxical as it sounds, by encountering the limitations of knowledge. These limitations, by reminding us of our humanity and our relative ignorance, help create the awe and wonder necessary for encountering the deepest, most soul-shaping truths.” Donald McCullough

Thomas Aquinas (c 1225-74) was the greatest of the medieval Doctors of the Church. His life was devoted to prayer, teaching, writing and travel. Although Aquinas had little knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, as a theologian he was unrivalled in intellectual power, capable of dictating to four secretaries at the same time. Yet he showed absolute single-mindedness in pursuing his fundamental aim: to use Aristotelian methods of scientific rationalism to support the doctrines of Christian faith. His Summa Theologica on the person of God was twenty volumes. Near the end of his life Aquinas had a divine revelation in the Chapel of St. Nicholas in Naples. Afterwards he said, “I can no longer write, for God has given me such glorious knowledge that all contained in my works are as straw – barely fit to absorb the holy wonders that fall in a stable.” …In 1274 Aquinas died at Fossa Nuova, south of Rome. “He confessed his sins and he received his God; and we may be sure that the great philosopher had entirely forgotten philosophy. The confessor ran forth as if in fear, and whispered that [Thomas’] confession had been that of a child of five.” G. K. Chesterton

the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” 1 Corinthians 1:24

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you experienced the limits of knowledge?
  • Has it led to greater humility before God and others?
  • Are you able to stand before God in faith like “a child of five?”

Abba, in the end I know so little, but I know this, that you love me and that you alone suffice.

__________

For More: Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox by G. K. Chesterton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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