For me, knowledge has not only been a pursuit, but a refuge and a comfort. It’s little wonder, then, that one of the things I fear most is losing my mind, and also little wonder that I am so prone to intellectual pride. I need not only factual knowledge about the world and about other people and about God–I need the subjective, personal knowledge that leads to love and keeps me from holding all of them out at arm’s length.
Hear me out: Objective knowledge is important, and we need it, because truth is objective. But in many cases we can’t divorce it from the existential, experiential knowledge that leads to change.
Actually, N.T. Wright says it better than I do:
The sterile antithesis of “objective” and “subjective,” where we say that things are either objectively true (and can be perceived as such by a dispassionate observer) or subjectively true (and so of no use as an account of the real, public world), is overcome by the epistemology of love, which is called into being as the necessary mode of knowing for those who will live in the new public world, the world launched at Easter, the world in which Jesus is Lord and Caesar isn’t.
(from Surprised by Hope, pp. 73-4)
But to know–and to be known–this way requires vulnerability. It doesn’t let us stand at a distance. It makes us get up right into all the mess and complexity of it and allow God and other people to get in our mess, too. That is a scary thing. But it is also the only way to be really human, and to love things, people, and God for themselves, not only what they mean.