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?
When I take an
inventory, I find twelve.
complete, definitive way, of course, is
Christ, God himself in human flesh.
church is his
body, so we know God also through the church.
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.
Art 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.
Conscience 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.
your story, can also reveal God. You can see the hand of Providence there.
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.
reveal God. They are advertisements, mirrors, little Christs. They are
perhaps the most effective of all means of convincing and converting people.
Our 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."
Prayer meets God —
ordinary prayer. You learn more of God from a few minutes of prayerful
repentance than through a lifetime in a library.
Unfortunately, Christians sometimes have family fights about these 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.
Peter Kreeft. “Twelve Ways to Know God".
Reprinted by permission of Peter Kreeft
Peter Kreeft has written extensively (over
25 books) in the areas of Christian
apologetics. Link to all of Peter Kreeft's books
Peter Kreeft teaches at Boston College in Boston Massachusetts. He is on the
Advisory Board of the Catholic Educator's Resource Center.