I’m thinking about Paul in the Athenian Aeropagus.
The men of Athens had an altar there, inscribed “To the Unknown God.” Paul saw it. He made it into an open-air sermon, recorded in the scriptures in this way:
Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
He goes on to say that God is accessible to us, if unknown, then not unknowable:
And [He] hath made of one blood all nations of men, . . . that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him.
He preaches that God is intelligible to us, through our ordinary human experience—
though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being
as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Finally, Paul preached that Christ’s death and resurrection was meant to be an assurance, of the kind adapted to the understanding of people of every kind, that Christ was from God.
Friends know that I am sympathetic to conventional Christianity. This kind of thing is in my wheelhouse, if you could drain off all the “La, those ignorant modern prophets’ overtones. We Mormons criticize classical Christian doctrines, but we don’t always understand them. The doctrines sometimes respond to real metaphysical problems that, in many cases, we have no better answers to: how can Christ be both a God, capable of transcending the mortal experience for us, and also a Man, capable of having a mortal experience to transcend? Their metaphysical doctrines also respond to genuine religious feeling. The awe and majesty of the Almighty and the vast differences between us and Him is what anyone will properly feel when they contemplate His works and His glory.
And yet, defensible as these doctrines might be, when classical Christians emphasize the difference between us to the extent of saying, as negative theologians do, that anything we might say of God is essentially false, because we are incapable of understanding and knowing him, then I hear them trying to reverse the work of Paul. I see that altar to the Unknown God being built back up.
The fact is that Christ is and was a man. We can know him as well as we can know anyone. Better, through the indwelling Holy Ghost. And Christ was and is God. God the Father and God the Son are not different in kind:
The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
Similarly, the fact is that God is our Father. I have it on the best authority. Christ says so. We can know him deeply, like a child that lives in the intimacy and presence of his father every day of its life.
Christ is not a Potemkin God.
God is not a Potemkin Father.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Classical Christians worry that if we don’t emphasize the greatness and grandeur of God, believers will take Him for granted. I am not worried. Anyone who genuinely recurs to the throne will kneel of their own volition.