Knowledge and Faith

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”:
Scripture: “To know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge” (Eph: 3, 19)
"Do not say that you cannot believe that which you do not understand. Within ourselves there is a quality which surpasses all knowledge and which no mind can encompass. This is something unexplainable, something that elevates us above our own power of reasoning, which opens to our soul an entire world which is inaccessible to our rational mind. Primarily, we do not understand the peace of God or the love of Christ – both are accessible only through our faith. Our rational mind does not accept this; how can one have peace when one is surrounded by turmoil, discord, confusion and commotion? How can a person, in his insignificance, in his sinfulness, be subject to God’s love? But peace and Christ’s love come upon us – how and in which way, we do not know – but we feel their beneficent effect.
"We know that His peace fills our soul when we remain firm and calm amid the storms of life. Our longing for Him reveals to us His power of attraction. We love Him because “He first loved us” (1 John: 4, 19), and our desire to know Him, our ardent desire to be with Him, Who has conquered the world, proves that He is close to us. His love, coming down into our sinful soul, transforms it, and warmed by the rays of this love, our soul matures for eternity. Then through our humility and faith we will be able to “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge”.

These are several quotes from Lewis on this subject:

“By Faith we believe always what we hope hereafter to see always and perfectly and have already seen imperfectly and by flashes. In relation to the philosophical premises a Christian’s faith is of course excessive: in relation to what is sometimes shown him, it is perhaps just as often defective. My faith even in an earthly friend goes beyond all that could be demonstratively proved; yet in another sense I may often trust him less than he deserves.” (“God in the Dock”, I, 21)

“Taken by a literalist, [Jesus] will always prove the most elusive of teachers. Systems cannot keep up with that darting illumination. No net less wide than a man’s whole heart, nor less fine of mesh than love, will hold the sacred Fish.” (“Reflections on the Psalms”, Ch. XI).

“Christ did not die for men because they were intrinsically worth dying for, but because He is intrinsically love, and therefore loves infinitely” (“Miracles”, ch. VII).


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

This reminds me of a scene from the 1997 science fiction TV series Babylon 5, in which one of the alien ambassadors is meeting her new aide for the first time. She gives him some (rather odd and counterintuitive) instructions, closing with, “do you understand?” He answers, “No. But understanding is not required, only obedience.” His answer is only partially correct, of course, and doesn’t really answer the question–she’s asking whether he understands what he’s been instructed to do, and he responds that he doesn’t understand why he’s been instructed to do it (implicitly affirming that he does understand what he’s supposed to do).

Somewhat similarly, we will never fully understand God. He is God, he is infinite, he is eternal, and we are none of those things. Even in eternity, with minds freed from the corruption of the fall, our understanding will be incomplete. But at the same time, there’s a great deal that we have been told in Scripture, or can infer from it. We have not only the ability, but also the obligation, to study and understand that. That, I believe, is why this was such a common part of Paul’s prayers for the churches to which he wrote.

Ahhh, the Minbaris Delenn and Lenier, I guess? Wonderful characters!
Dan, your Vorlon memory is better than mine, but I really enjoyed that series.

And you have reminded me of the bit at the end of The Silver Chair, where the imprisoned prince asks the children and Puddleglum to free him in Aslan’s name

Yet could Aslan have really meant them to unbind anyone -even a lunatic- who asked it in his name ? … But then, supposing this was the real sign? … They had muffed three already; they daren’t muff the fourth.

Oh, if only we knew!’ said Jill.

‘I think we do know,’ said Puddleglum.

Do you mean you think everything will come right if we do untie him?’ said Scrubb.

‘I don’t know about that,’ said Puddleglum. ‘You see, Aslan didn’t tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us, once he’s up, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the sign.’

I’ve written this on my phone. I hope the markdown formatting comes out right.

Under the Mercy,


Indeed. It really is interesting–J. Straczynski, the show’s creator, was and is an atheist, but still managed to weave in religious themes in a thoughtful and thought-provoking way. Not (generally) explicitly Christian themes (though there were some of those too, particularly in the finale), but almost everyone was religious, many of them took it quite seriously, and that was often presented as a good thing.

The thought of simply obeying Aslan without necessarily understanding why, brings to mind another scriptural meditation from “Day by Day”:

Scripture: “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John: 13, 7)


"These words are always correct. In order to understand their meaning, a firm faith and patient expectation is required. It sometimes seems to us that our entire life consists of various sorrows and trials. Let us remember then that the Lord has His goals and His intentions for us. He directs events according to His plans, never ceasing to care for us. For Him there is harmony in everything, even where we see disarray and discord.

"So let us not give in to dismay. Faith is like sunrise; when the sun begins to rise, day is not far away. There are times when even tomorrow is hidden from us, when we stand at the edge of a precipice whose bottom we cannot see. But the way of the Lord is always clear and firm. He Himself passed through the water, and His hand is ready to help the one who is drowning.

"Let us not distance ourselves from the shadow of the cross. The act performed on it promises victory for us. When we are no longer able to pray, let us sigh to the Lord. And when even our sighs cease, let us wait. Blessed is he who waits patiently for the Lord’s deliverance. The whole world is in a state of turmoil, just as our soul is. But, relying on faith, we will conquer the world.

"The Lord wants to wash us as He did Peter, who did not understand His intentions. Let us surrender everything to His will, since if He does not wash us, we will have no part in Him. His ways are incomprehensible, His judgments unfathomable, but when we reach our goal, everything will become clear, and we will see only love and goodness.

“So take heart and continue on your path! The truth is found not in what is seen, but in what is not seen. The light of Christ which illuminates the invisible world illuminates and consoles us as well.”

P.S. I haven’t seen Babylon 5, but you guys have inspired me to do so (:-).


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

It had a couple of features that were pretty innovative for its day. First, and probably most significantly, it was written with a broad, overarching story arc for its five-season run. It was at one point described as a novel in five chapters. All the episodes tell a relatively self-contained story, but all move the big story along too.

Second, it was innovative in its use of CGI. All the exterior shots were CGI–and today, 20+ years later, it’s kind of obvious, but even so it holds up pretty well.

I hope you enjoy it–I understand it was released in Russian as well.