The Psychology and Theology of Knowing God

Nicholas J. S. Gibson, Ph.D., was our colloquia speaker this past week. Dr. Gibson is from University of Cambridge and is part of the Psychology and Religion Research Group there. His talk bridged the gap between research and theories on God image and the practical applications in the lives of Christians who have a lived experience of God. He began by reminding participants of the biblical imperative to know God, and he then discussed ways of knowing, including theological, linguistic, and psychological perspectives. He distinguished between head-knowledge of God (or propositions regarding God) and heart-knowledge of God (or experiential knowing). Dr. Gibson proceeded to discuss the content of God representations and the origins of one’s knowledge of God, including family upbringing, personal experience, cultural context, and Scripture. As a researcher he was also able to elaborate on some of the challenges associated with measurement in this area. Dr. Gibson closed with practical applications for those in attendance – what it means to bring together one’s stated knowledge of God and one’s personal experience of God. Based upon the Q & A time, it seemed the audience genuinely enjoyed the presentation and came away with ideas for further study as well as personal challenges for application.

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