Last night I was reading the introduction to D. Stephen Long's new book, Speaking of God. He writes about how Christians speak about the divine in worship and how this language is decidedly non-philosophical. Pointing out that some philosophers argue that liturgical language--in philosophical terms--does not constitute genuine knowledge, he writes:
Every Sunday. . .people universally gather at a specific location and hear someone exclaim "The Word of God!" or "The body and blood of Christ" and seldom does anyone fall down laughing. This is an odd phenomenon that elicit various and sundry explanations. It could be a sign of moral and intellectual failure on the part of those who participate. Perhaps they do not yet know that such claims cannot constitute genuine knowledge? Yet the people who participate in these activities seldom throw up their hand, interrupt the goings-on and protest, "You are violating the epistemological limits that constitute proper human knowledge, or "You are using language improperly," or "What method of verification do you have to prove those claims?" Instead, they appear untroubled that the language used might not accomplish its purpose of truthful speech about God.
Now, you may think that I am strange for thinking that this is funny. And you would be right. But us philosophical theologians take our jollies where we can find them. The Dominican in me almost wishes someone would stand up during Mass and yell, "Hey, Father, can you delineate the proper criteria for deciding the epistemic limits of knowing an ultimately unknowable God?" Of course, I'd chuckle and direct the bouncers. . .errrr. . .I mean, the ushers to escort the miscreant out, but my Dominican-tinged soul would seriously consider answering the question.