Ways of Knowing God: The Threefold Way

Ron Hunt

Experience

Experiencing God directly is sublime. Through one’s own prayer, meditation, reading, and reflection, as well as those spontaneous experiences at any moment—these are ways to know God. Often, this is the first sense for people that they have met and know God.

These religious experiences are immediate, and offer great revelation that one feels at the deepest levels of life. These are direct, unmediated experiences of God.

I have found when I share my spiritual or religious experiences openly, many others will share theirs as well.

Therefore, I have collected so many direct experiences of God from others over my lifetime. Some are gentle and tender, others dramatic. These experiences of God are always wonder-filled, producing insight and growth, as well as being ultimately healing. They serve as guiding touchstones for peoples’ lives. It has been my greatest privilege when people have told me in times of greatest trouble and highest joys they meet God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and all the Host of Heaven.

Scripture

If someone comes to know God first by experience, they look to others to understand what it means. They often turn to scripture and find help, and often more confusion.

A wise Hebrew scriptures professor in seminary shared with me my model for scripture’s revelation of God.

He suggested seeing the Christian scriptures as a watershed, with Jesus at the very top, and the other revelations in the various books of the Bible further down the watershed. He was suggesting some authors or books toward the top and others of lesser revelation toward the bottom of the watershed. What was disturbing me at the time was the numbers of ruthless killings chronicled as God’s will in my Old Testament class he was teaching.

It makes sense that Jesus is the pinnacle of the Bible’s revelation and the most unfiltered revelation to know God for us Christians. Jesus is very popular for people of other religions too, and for people who claim no religion. So, the four gospels are primary for my knowing God.

Tradition

Following scripture, there have been many great spiritual teachers and movements the past two millennia of Christianity. Again, religions the world over have their greatest teachers still remembered today. Really it is the great mystics and saints who inform me best.

Reading their experiences of God, interpretation of scripture, and their own profound faith reveals God well. It is good to find guides in both history and today.

One of the joys of living in our time is reclaiming the “Church Universal.” We no longer feel forced to stay only in one tradition. Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and many more now share knowledge of God freely.

Finally, the most enduring experience of knowing God for me would be the experience of knowing “God is love.” Two times in 1st John we read these three words, “God is love.” It is in everything that Jesus says and does.

I trust if you’ve read this far, you have come to know God too, or you’ve begun an earnest search. Knowing God is the greatest experience of this life, and makes all other knowing all the greater.

Ron Hunt is a spiritual director and pastor. He is also a retired psychologist. He currently serves Friendship Center at Robson Ranch. He leads worship every Sunday in the Ranch House’s Laredo Room at 9 a.m. for all those seeking friendship with God and one another. Contact Ron at 218-330-5306 or [email protected]gmail.com.