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Love and Knowledge

“Knowledge is power and love is the aim; when they go hand in hand we have a wonderful result. ‘Knowledge puffs up whereas love builds up’ (1 Cor. 8: 1) and Saint Maximos the Confessor urges us to: ‘yoke together knowledge and love and you’ll become humble in outlook, a spiritual constructor, building up both yourself and all those you are in touch with’ (ΕΠΕ 14, Thessaloniki 2006). The holy Father analyzes the issue with great clarity: ‘Love builds up because it isn’t envious, it doesn’t embitter those who do display envy, nor does it deliberately make a public show of the person being envied. People who love don’t think they’ve arrived at perfect knowledge (Phil. 3:12) and they acknowledge what they don’t know, without being ashamed to do so. So they make their mind humble in outlook and prepare it to prosper in knowledge’.” (Archimandrite Iakovos Kanakis)

“ ‘If Christ dwells within our hearts through faith, as the apostle says (Eph. 3:17) and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him (Col. 2:3), then all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in our heart, and are manifested in our heart in proportion to the extent that each one of us is cleansed through the observation of the commandments’. Christ himself stated clearly: ‘blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’ (Matth. 5:8).” (Saint Maximos the Confessor)

“…the acquisition of knowledge requires effort; the acquisition of love requires blood. Knowledge really is power for people, but without love it’s not only superfluous and vapid, but it can also become dangerous and destructive.” (Archimandrite Iakovos Kanakis)

“The truth of creation (and of other human beings) is good and beautiful, and cannot be rightly perceived apart from love. This way of being (and perceiving) is often foreign to our actions. Instead, as fearful, anxious creatures of our logismoi, we imagine that knowledge is gained by the amassing of “facts.” The nature of such knowledge is found in its ability to manage. It represents a form of safety and comforts the mind of fear and anxiety. Of course, such knowledge is extremely limited. The vast array of “facts” that constitutes the universe is well beyond our ken. With but the tiniest fraction of such information we spin various explanations of everything from the origins of life to the very nature of the universe itself. It is a game best played by academics, most of whom agree among themselves that the guessing game constitutes reality itself. The popular media regales the general population with daily revelations implying that we’re very close to knowing everything. Only love knows anything.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“There is a worldly knowledge which makes science, innovation, technology and industry possible. It is a knowledge based in truth. Its limit is it is not based in The Truth, Jesus Christ. It is all important to life and has the potential for great good. But it is only part of the knowledge we need to live in the world. For believers, there is also the need for love and knowing God, as well as love for the neighbor. “And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“Love is first among all the activities connected with virtue and all the commandments of the law. If, therefore, the soul ever attains this love, it will need none of the others, having reached the fullness of its being. It seems that love alone preserves in itself the character of the divine blessedness. And knowledge becomes love because what is known is by nature beautiful.” (St. Macrina)

“The crisis of our loneliness is, I think, two-fold. It is the lack of intimacy on the one hand (surrounded by information gatherers). It is also a crisis of vulnerability (humility) in which we fear to be known, for ever-so-many reasons. Intimacy is something of a dance. It requires a gift, for the knowledge that comes from love can only be made available freely and as a gift. The gift requires love in order to be received. For what can be known in intimacy can only be known through love. It dissipates in the hands of anything else. St. Paul, summarizing his amazing 13th chapter from his first Corinthian letter (the chapter of love), says this: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” 1 Cor. 13:12.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“St. Paul’s comments that ‘knowledge puffs up’ is not an anti-intellectual comment. Rather, he is placing ‘knowledge’ on a scale of values with love being the highest virtue. He is advocating that when Christians speak to each other (or debate with each other), they remember that all they do and say should be governed by love (1 Corinthians 16:14). “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). One can know all Christian dogmas, know all the rubrics of the Church, know theology as a trained scholar, know how to practice asceticism perfectly, but if one doesn’t have Christ’s love for others, all that knowledge will amount to nothing. Christians aren’t just to win arguments through knowledge, they are to win hearts through love. Without love, as St. Paul says, a person of knowledge will just become overbearing and arrogant.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“Experiencing the love of God enables us to comprehend “the width and length and depth and height” (Eph 3:18) of Christ’s nature and His life among us. These dimensions include the width of God’s love for all men; the length to which the Lord is willing to go for us, even to death on the Cross; the depth of God’s humility in Christ; and the height of His exaltation above “every name that is named” (Eph 1:21). Finally, because the saints know “the love of Christ which passes knowledge,” they are “filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19). We ourselves are incomplete, unable to know the mind of God, powerless to see fully. And yet God, who is omniscient and unlimited, created us to become the dwelling place of His presence. He intends for us to receive the salvation He bestows: wisdom, power, insight, “the riches of His glory” Eph 3:16).” (Dynamis 10/13/2021)

“We are able to love as Christ loves when we know and accept the love of God. It is like a candle. Candlewax is solid and hard until it warmed with a flame. But then it became soft, then liquid. The wax flows, and it gives itself to the burning of the fire. So also, the love of Christ melts our hearts so that they burn with love, burn not only for Him but for everyone and everything without distinction. And in that burning, we offer ourselves to bring the light of God to the world around us.” (Fr. Basil)

“Man was created to know God; not only to believe in Him and to hope in Him, but to know Him and so to love Him and to serve Him. Knowledge of God is the aim and goal of man’s life, the purpose of his creation by God.” (Father Thomas Hopko)

“…only those who love God are known by Him (1 Cor 8:3). Such “knowledge” does not refer to God’s ability to see a man’s heart. Rather, it describes God’s disclosure of Himself to a man, when He invests that person with divine energies…tangible love for others is part of righteousness. And active love for others grows out of our life in Christ. United to Christ, who is true knowledge, we come to know the love of God for ourselves, and the Lord leads us in turn to love others so that we may attain peace.” (Dynamis 7/25/2019, 4/2/2020)

“…love is the condition for knowledge. It’s not that I know in order to love, but rather: I love in order to know…Consider, for example, Paul’s remarkable prayer for the Christians at Philippi in the opening section of his letter to them: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9–11).” .” (James Smith)

“…thought moved with love becomes the power of reason, it connects with the object of knowledge and leads to true knowledge. The will that is birthed from love becomes conscientious, a good will that can become the source of truly Christian, heroic actions. The imagination stops being cold, stops being a vain and apathetic game, comes alight with spiritual fire and begins truly to see and to create.” (Ivan Ilyin)

“You don’t have to know much. All you have to know is that you love Jesus, and that He is your Truth…Head knowledge, of course, is not to be disdained….We are called to love the Lord our God not only with all our heart and all our soul and all our strength, but with all our mind as well (Mk. 12:30), and thus we have no excuse for deliberately spurning the spiritual resources given to us out of laziness. But a merely cerebral approach to the Faith, one devoid of love for Jesus, is not sufficient. Love for Christ is foundational, and our intellectual and theological pursuits are meant to serve and further this love. If you know a lot, that is wonderful. But it still remains true that the Lord of heaven and earth revealed His salvation to babes, to those who approach Him in trust and simplicity of heart (Lk. 10:21). Pure hearts are what is needed in order to be saved and to see God, not big brains. You may not know much. You only need to know that you love Jesus. And on the Last Day, that may be all you need to know.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley)


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