Quote for the Day

Monotheism believes that in the end all shall be well and all riddles will be solved. For this we need that patience or tolerance which will save our lives. Agnosticism lacks such endurance and is concerned with our concrete situation without eschatological promises (hallucinations or mirages). God may know all, but we are not God and certainly do not know all, not even in the most elementary things. We have to confess ourselves a-gnostics because we do not have the divine gnosis, the knowledge of things that really matter. The reference here, of course, is monotheism. No doubt we know many things, but we do not know anything exhaustively, as God is supposed to know. Therefore, we have to confess ourselves agnostics, if we may adopt this name of recent coinage.

— Raimon Panikkar, The Rhythm of Being

Sanctity and Struggle, or, Why Saints Have Chaotic Inner Lives (Hint: It's Because We All Do)
What Has Not Yet Been Revealed
Pentecost and Ecstasy
Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • Phil Soucheray

    The take away for me from this quote is that those who believe in God are agnostic-lite. This is because while in true humility we can never really know God, we know in faith that God is. True agnostics with a lack of compassion might be inclined to dismiss the agnostic-lites as deluded. I like to think of myself as hopeful. It also takes patience and tolerance of myself and others. But that’s a never ending work in progress. At least I have something positive to strive for.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

      I’m not sure that people of faith are “agnostic-lite” (maybe “agnostic-light”?) — I think the unknowing is just as profound within the Christian mystery as outside it. But where secular agnostics say “Why believe in God?” holy agnostics reply “Why not?”

  • http://dennisbarr.blogspot.com Dennis Barr

    Perhaps we should say, if we aspire to holiness, something like this:

    “I do not know. Lord God of mysteries, help me to know what you would reveal to me. I praise you for the knowing and the mystery.”

    A-gnostic = unknowing. Perhaps not completely unknowing, but like this (1 Corinthians 13:12): For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known.

    So – what are we to be called? Semi-informed? Partially aware? I like pilgrim myself, journeying to a sacred place in quest. We aren’t home yet.

  • Suze

    This is a beautiful quote for me, in so far as it reveals the entwinement of opposites as one journeys into the dark realms of right relationship (all in all).