instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, June 15, 2009

True knowledge can be imperfect

In commenting on the previous post, Marion put her finger on the precise point St. Thomas went on to make in his commentary on the story of the Samaritan woman at the well:
"You either have true knowledge of God, according to St. Thomas, or you have no knowledge of Him at all."

But what about faith communities different from our own, who have what recent Popes have described as an "imperfect knowledge" of God?
St. Thomas contrasts three groups and their knowledge of God:
GroupIdea of GodWorship of God
SamaritansFalseAn imaginary being they think is God
JewsTrue but imperfectIn bodily rites and symbols
ChristiansTrue and perfectIn spirit and in truth

Christian knowledge of God is "perfect" in the sense that it is the Son's own knowledge of His Father, and Christian worship of God is likewise "perfect" in the sense that it is the Son's own worship of His Father. It doesn't follow that a particular Christian, or even any Christian ever, has perfect knowledge or offers perfect worship. And actually, for my part I seem to bounce between all the kinds of knowledge and worship in the above table.