While fallen men are inclined to view themselves as gods, we also know implicitly that only arrogant lunatics would claim absolutely comprehensive knowledge. Therefore, in the quest to protect our pretensions to divinity we are ironically forced to deny one of its basic elements. We are more than happy to be thought of as gods but not lunatics! Even gods have their limits, right?
So, given the inescapable reality of creaturely finitude, men must always perceive everything according to finite referents. That means that men must always be perceiving according to unity and diversity. We see individual parts (diversity) that fit into a whole (unity). We see a whole (unity) and piece together its individual parts (diversity). Ultimately, the way our finitude works itself out in our epistemology points us to the triune God. He is both unity and diversity. He is one God and three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
So then sin, speaking epistemologically, is ultimately this:
One is in epistemological sin when he thinks he needs no more referents. In other words, one is in sin when he thinks he has perceived all the individual parts of anything.
Another way to say this is:
One is in epistemological sin when he thinks he has perceived the whole in an absolutely comprehensive fashion.
Only God can do that!
So what does this mean for the inquisitive Christian? I think it means that we must ALWAYS be on guard when engaged in study, snuffing out the first kindling of pride in our hearts so that we are not inflamed with sinful attitudes. Knowledge puffs up. We must strive to know this before we know anything else. The beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord.
Does this mean there are times when we should quit asking difficult questions about reality? NO! We should be ever diligent in exploring the dialogue, the dynamic, between unity and diversity. We should always be seeking after a right understanding of reality, which for Christians is fundamentally a knowledge of ourselves and a knowledge of God. I heard someone quote R. C. Sproul recently saying, "We never have the right to be wrong in our theology." I agree. We may be wrong on many points, but we never have the right to be content with being wrong. We must seek the truth with everything we have! Why? Well for one, what we understand about God and ourselves ultimately impacts our ethics, which is primarily an expression of our worship. Furthermore, not only does our understanding impact our ethics and worship, the search for understanding is itself an expression of both. We never have the right to be lazy when engaging our minds in the worship of God. And for the Christian that is what the pursuit of knowledge should always be founded on, sustained by, and directed toward.
May the our heavenly Father protect us from ourselves. May we consistently be putting to death the pride that still resides in our souls by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we love the Lord our God with all our minds in humility and integrity.