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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: The Unknown God

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  SEPTEMBER 2016 --

In ancient Athens there was a temple devoted to Agnostos Theos, the Unknown God. When the apostle Paul visited Athens he saw that temple and incorporated the name into a speech he gave to the Athenian elite [at their invitation] at the Areopagus [Mars Hill]. The speech is recorded as follows in the Acts of the Apostles:

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

I submit that, even though we in modern days might say that we know God, in many ways we do not really KNOW him; he remains unknown. Our capacity to know God is limited by the fact that God is so very, very big and we are so very, very small. Through meditation and prayer and through experience each of us may learn a little about God, but our experience is like that of the six blind men and the elephant: each was partly in the right but all were in the wrong.

However, there are many ways that may enable all of us to learn more about God than we presently know, so that little by little God becomes less unknown. Jesus gives us a few helpful hints. He said “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God”. Jesus said to Philip “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” And in the 29th chapter of Jeremiah we read: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”


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