Preview: Which Comes First: the Revelation or the Search?

But who can invoke you, knowing you know? For one who knows you not may invoke you as another than you are. It may be that we should invoke you in that we may come to know you. But how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?

St. Augustine

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Applied to the subject of truth, the questions becomes something like which came first, the revelation of truth or the search for truth? The quote from St. Augustine states the same question but more poetically.

It’s a deceptively simple question, just like that of the chicken and the egg.

Confessional literature in any form is largely occupied with this question. Catherine of Siena undoubtedly had revelation. Marcus Aurelius, H.G. Wells, and St. John Henry Newman searched. Margery Kempe search and had revelation.

So, which journey is the “correct” one?

They all are.

Having once surrendered blind belief, it is impossible to return to it, for the essence of such belief is to be unconscious of itself.

Al Ghazzali

The Two Confessions

In the next post, we’ll be looking at two confessions. One is world-famous. The other is little-known.

St. Augustine of Hippo hardly needs any introduction. His Cofessions and City of God are monumental works of Western thought and lay the basis for much of everything which comes afterwards. Even after the disastrous Protestant Reformation, Augustine remained widely respected, although these days there are far too many Protestants who will skip him over for post-Reformation thinkers who just reiterate what he already said.

Al Ghazzali is lesser known, but no less influential. His Confessions are one of the rare instances of autobiography extant from the 1000s in the East. The translation I have used was the first translation into English–in 1906. Which goes to show you how long this work has gone unknown in the English-speaking world. It’s linked so you can read it on Project Gutenberg.

What do these two men have to do with one another and the search for truth? That is what the next official post will be seeking to discover.

As usual, we will be looking past the religion and into the wisdom to be found for everyone, regardless of creed or confession.

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