God is known and unknown: Thoughts from St John Chrysostom


I have been reading through St. John Chrysostom’s homilies on the mystery of God and have truly found this work to be a treasure. It is my firm belief that all Christians should read this at some point in their lives because it is both deeply theological and deeply devotional.

One point that Chrysostom brings up is that God is not merely incomprehensible, but that God is also unapproachable. He is pulling this distinction from 1 Timothy 6:15-16, which reads:

“…he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,  who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”

The commentary that Chrysostom provides on this passage states that, “…Paul did not say, ‘Who is an unapproachable light,’ but, ‘Who dwells in unapproachable light.’ But if the dwelling is unapproachable, much more so is the God who dwells in it. Paul did not say this to limit God to a place, but to prove all the more cogently that God can neither be comprehended nor approached.”

This is sometimes difficult for Christians to grasp. All are guilty of creating an idol of the mind when it comes to God. Often times Christians desire to have a comprehensible God. This is why conservatives act as though they can speak for God on all matters – after all, God is against gays, against abortion, again Democrats, pro-Republican, and watches Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. But the liberals aren’t any better. To them God is all loving, welcomes all religions, hates CEO’s and Republicans, and wears designer jeans. What happens for both sides is they begin to create a God that looks more like them. They conform God to themselves rather than conform themselves to God. Continue reading

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