Since we cannot fully understand God, how could we ever fully trust God?

(Anas Ansari) #1

So I’m a Christian, that means I believe in God but I’m not sure how can i trust God fully. I mean Bible describes God is unpredictable (i guess) and out of our understanding so we can only understand him in a very very limited way. It’s like the problem when we say what it is like to be like a cat or what a cat is thinking and other Philosophical ideas, meaning we are very limited from our body, senses, mind, reasoning and what not. I mean God can read everybody’s mind and know what’s in our hearts and mind, but we can’t. We are not as powerful as Him or all knowing, and it’s not a problem for me, the problem is this:

How can i trust him if I don’t understand or know him fully, it’s just not fair. We could be in a matrix and controlled by robots or aliens and who knows what, the possibility is endless. And let me make myself very clear I’m not saying that God is absolutely hiding something from us or something but basically I’m saying I CAN’T KNOW THAT. And I’m also aware that I’m able to understand all this philosophical things because God has given me this ability to think about this kind of stuff, but it seems to me it’s unfalsifiable or untestable. And it’s very important to me because i love my Heavenly Father, and it will break my heart if He is not like how He tells us He is. I understand it’s a very difficult question but thank you for reading my question.

So to sum up: because of our limits as humans (which i have no problems with) we can’t fully understand/know God, therefore we can’t TRUST Him (not in a choice way, of course anyone can choose to trust anyone), again not saying He is hiding something from us but what I’m saying is I CAN’T KNOW THAT.

(Bonnie Crabtree) #2


Is there anyone in your life that you trust? If yes, what is that persons relation to you, parent, friend relative?

(SeanO) #3

@HeroGuy Thank you for that question. I think that you are making a fundamental error by confusing experiential knowledge with scientific or philosophical knowledge. We can know God experientially by His Spirit without understanding everything about Him. And then we can trust Him because we have experienced His faithfulness in our lives.

In fact, we see King David doing this in the Psalms when he is in trouble. Based on his past experience of God’s faithfulness, he believes that God will be faithful again and chooses to wait upon God.

Psalms 27:13-14 - I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see thegoodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

Think about how you know your friend’s or spouse. None of us understand our friends or spouse completely and yet we still trust them - why? Because in our experience of them they have shown themselves trustworthy. So experiential knowledge is not the same as scientific or philosophical knowledge.

And if we read the Bible, from Abraham to Moses to Paul, we see that God always invites us to know Him experientially - He does not explain Himself at a philosophical level. God is inviting us into a relationship with Him via His Spirit and goodness in our lives. He is offering us Himself - not a philosophical guidebook to divinity.

Psalms 34:8 - Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

John 17:3 - Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Is that distinction helpful? The Lord grant you wisdom to understand the difference between experiential and philosophical knowledge. Feel free to ask further questions.

Puddlgeglum’s Speech

In ‘The Silver Chair’, we see that Prince Caspian has been put under a spell by the evil queen - imprisoned in a false underworld reality. Having first given you fair warning of the outdated graphics, here is a clip from the classic BBC version of the marshwiggle Puddleglum breaking the spell. I think this is another interesting way of thinking about types of knowledge.

Puddleglum Breaking the Witch’s Spell

(Dennis Gladden) #4

Hello Anas,

Three scriptures help me with the questions you raise. In Jeremiah 9:24, we are told that we may understand and know the Lord. As Christians, we believe Jesus fulfills these words of Jeremiah, for the Apostle John tells us, “we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One” (1 John 5:20).

Jesus taught that if we know him we know the Father, and if we see him, we have seen the Father. He comforted the disciples with these words, “If it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:2).

Scripture assures us we may know and understand our heavenly Father and Jesus, being the fullness of God, comforts us with this same assurance. Certainly there are mysteries to God that we cannot know, but He has revealed enough of Himself that we know Him to be a God of love, mercy, grace, justice, righteousness and so forth. God is not double-minded nor deceitful. Whatever we cannot know about Him now is compatible with what He has revealed.

(Albert Schmidt) #5

Hey Anas,

very good question man, and a very important one as well. Actually, for me it is one of the most important questions one can think about. Why?
I was seeking truth for about 10 years. In that time I tried lot’s of stuff and studied different religions. It was that exact question of yours that kept bothering me: how can I trust this stuff? For me, I figured I can’t trust most of what I’ve encountered at that time due to a variety of reasons. People kept putting these statements out there and they only could back it up with: trust me, it is like that. That didn’t work for me. Not a single religion/philosophy could give me a good answer to it and I eventually resolved it for me as a Christian.

Here is my take on this.
Trust is based on experience. You try something, you realize it works out and by repeating, trust builds up that it will work in the future. This counts for things as well as for humans. It also counts for god. As I read your words, I see you know the theoretical side of your faith. But it seems to me you didn’t have the chance, yet, to put that knowledge into pratice in order to see if god is who he claims he is. Forgive me if this is wrong, it’s just an impression.
For example: god tells us in his words that he is a father for the fatherless. Now, my father left my family when I was 12, which caused a whole lot of problems. I couldn’t do the things a boy needs and wants to do with his father. Like, when the time came to get my first car, I was on my own and I ended up making a bad desicion. I also was on a budget because the divorce caused lot’s of financial problems for our family. Some years later, having a good career and being financially stable, I had to buy my next car. I was a christian at that point and I thought: if god really is a father to the fatherless, I’m going to claim that for me. You know, the void a father leaves is always there and if the stuff I believed was real, this was my chance of healing. So I told god something like this: god, you say you are the father for the fatherless. As you know I don’t have one and because I believe you, I would be happy to accept you as my father. Now, the fathers of my friends all helped them to buy a nice car. Please, would you help me get a nice car? I don’t understand the technical side of it and I need good advice.
So I told him exactly what kind of car I wanted: one that wasn’t really common. Sometimes you had to drive 2-3 hours to the seller. During the next days, I scanned the internet for this special car and I soon found it. A guy from the next town sold it: price, color, it was JUST the car I wanted. It was amazing! To my supprise, this guy was a car enthusiast and so the car was in a great condition. Didn’t have to drive hours to inspect a car which I had no idea of anyway.
Yes, it may be luck. But if this stuff happens over and over, it is no luck anymore. God reveals himself to us and we can experience his claims first hand. I trust him because there is nothing in for him. I am the one who benefits from these things, not him.
As time went on, these kind of trust-building experiences kept occuring in different areas of my life. I needed that because I know many religions, their extraordinary promises and weak outcomes. I for myself needed to experience that the god of the bible is who he claims to be. And he had no trouble delivering the evidence to me. He is reliable, he keeps his promise and word.
I pray that you may get to know the god of the universe in such a personal way as well. It’s a huge adventure and pure excitement.

God bless

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #7

Hello @HeroGuy. I appreciate your question. It seems to me that the argument is that we can’t trust God, because we can’t fully know God. But if we can’t trust someone whom we don’t fully know, then we can’t trust anyone. You can’t even trust yourself, because you can’t fully know yourself. If you can’t even trust yourself, then can you trust your argument?

The truth is that we can’t know God exhaustively, we can’t even know any person exhaustively, but in reality, there are people whom we trust, even if we don’t know everything about them. If it’s possible to trust people who are fallible beings without knowing them exhaustively, then why not with God who is infallible? We can trust Him even if we don’t know everything, because we can trace His heart as we look on what God did on the cross. Through the cross, we know that He is for our good, as we look to the gospel, we know that He is not a God that is very far off, but though God is transcendent, He is someone who entered our sinful world and knows personally our pain and suffering, because He experienced it with us – He walked with us, He could sympathize with us.

(Jimmy Sellers) #8

I wanted to throw this in with all the other very comments and thoughts. I think it is relevant to your situation. I am not sure that it is the answer but I am sure that as a Christian the resurrection is central to your belief and it is interesting how NT Wright blows up the rational and romantic worldview with this central doctrine.

From my notes on Gifford lectures #6, 2018 NT Wright.

At this point in the lecture Wright has developed a new of type of knowing that is a result of the resurrection.
He posit that it is the belief in the resurrection that brings with it its own ontology and epistemology. He goes on to say,

“It is love that believes the resurrection. Because it the most complete form of knowing and the resurrection is the most complete form of event.”

He contrasts this to the prevailing belief of the day and says,

"Everyone in the ancient work except the Pharisees and the Jews who followed them, understood resurrection and knew it was impossible. This was clear philosophically and politically we can see why Paul could preach:
23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a cause for stumbling, but to the Gentiles foolishness,

Using this as a reference Wright goes on to more precise language.

"The resurrection is impossible to an Epicurean, undesirable for a Platonist, unnecessary for a Deist, meaningless for a Pantheist and scary for an Emperor.

He wraps all that up in the following quote:

Knowing is a whole person activity it involves all aspects of being human. All human knowing involves the body and the emotions not just the senses and the brain. If we try to detach these different aspect from the person from the act of knowing we end like the logical positivists with supposedly scientific knowledge being objective and ethical knowledge being merely emotive or subjective and for what it matters theology and metaphysics being just nonsense.

So if I understand this correctly if you know the resurrection you know the love of God. If you know the love of God you know enough to also trust Him.

(C Rhodes) #9

@HeroGuy. In addition to the other words of truth you have received may I add. Though you say you are alright with human limitations; to be clear, such limitations assure us of a presiding inability to fully know GOD. Not because GOD does not reveal himself, but in our present form we can not contain all there is to know about GOD.

We can only comprehend so much at any one time, GOD protects us from the overwhelming grandeur of total knowing. We look through a glass darkly. I Corinthians 13:12. He does not ask us to comprehend it all, just believe, just trust. Faith is the counterbalance in our relationship with the Lord. Not because GOD is a mystery but to conceive of all He is, would no doubt result in human heads popping off in combustive exhaustion. Psalms 139:1-10. Exodus 33:17-23.

That is why it is impossible to please the Lord without Faith. Hebrews 11:6. That does not attach to the nature of GOD, but to the inadequacy of being human while in relationship with Omnipotence.

Being in a relationship with the Lord is a process of gaining, learning, and understanding. There is always a new and deeper understanding. Don’t bother getting comfortable with acquired knowledge, the class is never over. 2 Timothy 2:15. The newness never ends. We will truly spend a lifetime here just learning about the Lord. Just learning how to live holy.
2 Corinthians 3:18.

I imagine as fellow creatures that insist on understanding, rationalizing, and therefore controlling our world, the utilization of Faith can feel problematic. But, Trust does not stymie the process of understanding. It is just the beginning.

(LaTricia January) #10

@HeroGuy one of the first things that keeps popping out at me every time I read over your post is one of the first things you say about God - that the bible says He’s unpredictable. How are you understanding that? Which, I can’t say that I’ve read that God is unpredictable in the sense that He’s arbitrary and some rogue being doing whatever whenever - quite the contrary.

In your sight, what is it that’s unfair about not understanding or knowing God fully?

Why do you think/feel that there’s a solid and plausible possibility that God isn’t who, what, and how He says He is?

Are you familiar with the concept/definition of trustworthiness and how trustworthiness is gained?

Is the Heavenly Father that you love dearly based on what you want to believe of God or based on what God has revealed of Himself not only in scripture but also in your day to day life as well as in the world around us both near and far?