I found this ambitious quote from A.W. Tozer:
The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him—and of her.
I read this as “when seeking knowledge of God, extend that effort to the maximum”. I fully agree with his advice.
The attitude of the agnostic, by contrast, is a quiet contentment in simply being, with no pretensions about ultimate truth claims, nor any desire to ascertain the identity of, or even become involved in any story about, any supposed Almighty God.
In that sense Tozer has more in common with the secular humanist, whose passionate pursuit of truth (through science and philosophy) represents an equally amitious project.
I’ll grant that our ideas about God are the root of our religious performance. We make God’s presence manifest by enacting our thoughts about God. In this process, the colour palette of our thoughts will translate into the spectrum of incarnational living that we persue.
So if we want to make a pure and elevated painting, we’ll have to start with pure and elevated oil paints.
Purity and elevation are of course Biblical, by St. Paul’s account: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable”, etc.
But I don’t buy Paul’s words just because they’re in the Bible. I buy them because they resonate with me, because they feel sustainable, because they make sense. Which is to say that my own experience, my own feelings, and my own logic are part of my authoritative guide to truth.
Of course that’s rather secular of me.
But then, why shouldn’t I thrive in the paradox of secular and sacred, and live vibrantly in the mesh of their entanglement? It seems that the two at least need each other in order to thrive.