Formation for Knowing God: Imagining God: At-One-ing, Transforming, for Self-Revealing

By F. Gerald Downing

A discussion of God’s self-revelation in the Christian tradition, arguing that revelation is better understood in terms of faith rather than knowledge.

ISBN: 9780227175477


In this challenging and engaging discussion, F. Gerald Downing draws on evidence from Ancient Jewish and New Testament scriptures in his analysis of the changing history of the concept of ‘revelation’ within Christianity. Through the discussion of central concepts in the philosophy of language, such as reference and identity, Downing provides a comprehensive analysis of our notion of the concept of knowledge through revelation and self-revelation.

Formation for Knowing God contains an overview of the history of the debate regarding the methods and extent of God’s revelation, specifically, his self-revelation. Downing argues that the conviction that God is self-revealed stems from eighteenth-century Enlightenment debates, and has no roots in the early Christian tradition, from which we learn that God is incomprehensible. Downing rejects the view that it was the primary purpose of Christ’s death to show God’s love, claiming that this is unsupported by the scriptural evidence. The positive thesis argued by Downing is that what has been revealed to us is not a matter of knowledge but a matter of faith.

Downing’s Formation for Knowing God will challenge the assumptions of its readers, providing an alternative and thought provoking approach to the nature of knowledge and certainty within Christianity.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

F. Gerald Downing is an Anglican priest, retired from ministry in parishes and among students in their ministerial training. He has written many articles in a range of journals, and books with various publishers, from Has Christianity a Revelation? (1964) and A Man for Us and a God for Us (1968) to God with Everything (2008) and Order and (Dis)order in the First Christian Century (2013).




1. Seeking and Securing Clarity and Unity in Talk and God-Talk
2. “Reconciliation”, “At-one-ment”, “Self”, and “Revelation” Today
3. Ancient Jewish Scriptures
4. New Testament Scriptures
5. Ongoing Christian Tradition
6. Hide and Seek with the God of Love
7. Imaginative Faith While Being Transformed for Knowing as We Are Known
8. A Very Brief Agnostic (Unknowing) Systematic Theology for Awaiting God’s Self-Revelation

Ancient Document Index
Recent Author Index
Subject Index


Endorsements and Reviews

In a world of brittle religious certainties and defensive theologies, Downing provides a statement of Christian faith – not as a form of pseudoknowledge – but as faith; as unknowing yet reasoned and imaginatively engaging. Accessible, lively, and enriched by an easy familiarity with a breadth of scholarship, Formation for Knowing God is a welcome and compelling read.
Duncan Dormor, St John’s College, University of Cambridge

…this is a thoughtful and stimulating book. …Downing’s central point is carefully nuanced, and well-made: claims for the importance of revelation are often muddled, misleading and frequently overstated.
Alan Le Grys, in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol 38, No 5