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Ignorance

“Zeal without knowledge is damaging and dangerous. A little knowledge can be worse than complete ignorance, especially when we become wise in our own conceits. A little knowledge without humility is the worst of all.” (Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou)


“We long to know God (it is our natural will, indeed). It is also true that what we know of God is extremely limited. Our knowledge is always framed with an abiding ignorance. Christ, in His extreme humility, embraced certain expressions of ignorance. When asked about the time of the “restoration of the kingdom,” Christ said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” (Acts 1:7) There are boundaries to our knowledge, an ignorance that is proper to our nature. Our modern drive towards mastery of all things (so as to mass-produce universal pleasure) makes us rebel against the very notion of ignorance. If something cannot be fully known, then we declare it to be unworthy of knowledge. My own approach has been to start with what we do know: we know Christ and His death and resurrection. We have His commandments and the abiding presence of the Church which He gave us. And this knowledge of God through Christ is bounded by ignorance. Does it answer every question? Of course not – and it would be unhelpful if it did.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” [1 Corinthians 3:18] …The disciples at Corinth are under the delusion that they have attained true wisdom in Christ, but the apostle undercuts this false confidence, saying, “If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool” (vs. 18)…We face a similar problem today, for we live in a culture that places priority on the technological acumen offered by our secular universities and colleges. The belief is widespread that education will solve all problems, since society’s maladies are the result of ignorance. This dangerous notion does nothing to address mankind’s ills. Indeed, our belief in the “solution” of education blinds us, making the Apostle Paul’s message as pertinent to us today as it was during the first century.” (Dynamis 7/29/2021)


“Any idea of goodness, much less divine goodness, is limited by our creaturely limitations compounded by our sinful fallen state of existence. More than presumptuous, it would be a gross arrogance and ignorance to presume to fathom the depths of God’s benevolence not just to humanity, but to all life on our planet. As wise servants of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, we do well to praise and glorify the Holy Trinity for every good and perfect gift from above, beginning with our own salvation.” (Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky)


“…I am an ignorant man. Having gotten that out of the way, I want to spend just a few moments on the benefits of ignorance. Several years ago I was blessed to have a conversation with Fr. Thomas Hopko…He has taught a generation of priests. Our conversation turned to writing….I noted that the more I write, the less I seem to know. Part of this realization flows from the fact that I try to restrict my writing to those topics of which I have some knowledge (experience). His smiling response came immediately: “Someday you won’t know anything and then you’ll be holy!” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“Our unknowing goes deeper into God than our knowing goes. Seasoned familiarity with God, yet complete incomprehension of God moved Augustine to call this deeper dimension of awareness “learned ignorance.” (Martin Laird)


“We know a “tiny something” about God. We also have a window of communion with Him by which we may have a different kind of knowledge (non-informational). Mostly, what we have with regard to God, must be described as ignorance. I believe this ignorance is quite important and its recognition to be utterly essential to the spiritual life.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“Nothing benefits people who are weak so much as withdrawing into quietude. Or those subject to the passions and lacking in spiritual knowledge, as obedience combined with quietude. There’s nothing better than knowing your own weakness and ignorance and nothing worse than not recognizing them.” (Saint Peter the Damascan)


“It seems to me that ignorance and powerlessness go together (just as knowledge is often a tool in our drive for dominance). Both are treated as shameful in our culture as we celebrate mastery and success. As years have gone by, I am increasingly convinced that the shame of my ignorance is deeply bound up in my salvation – my union with the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. In a world of masters I see violence and oppression. In such a world only the foolish dare be ignorant. May God give me the grace to remain a fool, and may He receive it upon His heavenly and noetic altar as an odor of sweet fragrance, a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


There is no great sin in ignorance – or at least there is far less sin in ignorance than in knowledge. The simple truth is that we will not know anything of value until we first know that we do not know….Several years ago I was blessed to have a conversation with Fr. Thomas Hopko…Our conversation turned to writing. My comment came from my reflection on the experience of writing…I noted that the more I write, the less I seem to know. Part of this realization flows from the fact that I try to restrict my writing to those topics of which I have some knowledge (experience). His smiling response came immediately: “Someday you won’t know anything and then you’ll be holy!”… To recognize the limits of knowledge is not to embrace ignorance.” (Father Stephen Freeman, Fr. Thomas Hopko, James Smith)


#MartinLaird #FatherStephenFreeman #SaintPetertheDamascan #FrThomasHopko #JamesSmith #DrEugeniaScarvelisConstantinou #Dynamis #FrVladimirBerzonsky



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