Saint Paul speaks scathingly of the conventional wisdom of reigning, worldly powers, only to insist that he imparts hidden wisdom that discerns the glory of grace, wisdom that glorifies God, glory that glorifies those who awaken to its hallowing glory (1 Cor 1: 2-10). Scholars sometimes speak of the Apostle’s irony at this point but the Apostle’s hidden wisdom is not ironical but is in truth the Christophanic Wisdom of the Cross, discerning the glory of the slaughtered Lamb to be love that seeks not its own. Many Christians have concluded that the Apostle really was condemning all wisdom out of hand and that all Christian wisdom is therefore heretical gnosticism. This fatal blind spot has wounded Holy Orthodoxy but has never destroyed genuine Christian wisdom, which is invisible, ineffable and inconceivable. The Spirit of Truth imparts hidden wisdom as love’s glory for our coming glorification but transmits it safely, without heresy, in every age. It is the Spirit that knows God as God knows God, unveiling God’s God-centred glorification of God, endlessly recapitulating mysteries of glory without exhaustion. We need to take a rest from time to time but the Spirit never tires of reminding us what wisdom reveals and glory remembers, mysteries hidden from the foundation of the world for our enlightenment.
The Apostle Paul calls this wisdom hidden, but this is no mere figure of speech, because spiritual wisdom really is invisible, inaudible and inconceivable. What sophistry cannot grasp, the Holy Spirit reveals, the wisdom of Christ the slaughtered Lamb, discerning the Father’s glory in the midst of suffering love. The Spirit of wisdom is a Spirit of revelation that awakens the eye of the heart to a knowing that knows as it is loved and known. This refers to God’s God-centred knowledge of God that knows God as God is known by God, wisdom that is mutually reciprocal revelation in Holy Trinity (Eph 1:16-18). Truly to know oneself is not only to know God, but to be known by God, as the Gospel of Thomas bears witness, (Thomas Logion 3), and Saint Antony confirms (Antony: Letter 3, Chitty, SLG. pg 11). Wisdom discerns nothing created at centre at all, opening the heart to God’s seeing of God, God’s loving God-centred glorification of God. Wisdom is God’s way of seeing, God’s way of revealing the Name in uncreated light, illumining the heart with love’s glorious grace, deified filiation (Eph 5:8). God’s wisdom is his uncreated light revealing the glory of his Name, blessing all who walk in the Spirit as children of light. Blessed purity of heart sees God only because wisdom sees nothing at centre but the glory of God awakening wisdom when the Name is hallowed. It is not that God is visually perceived as an object of physical perception or a specimen of empirical observation. No-one sees God at any time, yet the Spirit of wisdom sees his glory and bears witness to the kindly grace of glorification.
Wisdom in the Spirit beholds the hidden dispensation of the hallowed Name, concealed with Christ in God from before the beginning of time, revealed in him as manifold wisdom by the Bride of the Lamb (Eph 3:10). Guardian angels watching over the nations receive this wisdom from the Bride, who does not divulge it to encourage clever, curious scrutiny but offers it to humble hearts to encourage self-emptying love. It is shared with the grace of glorification in view, not self-centred vainglory, inflating subtle pride. According to the Book of Wisdom, hidden wisdom is spiritually discerned to be 1. intelligent, 2. holy, 3. unique, 4. manifold, 5. active, 6. subtle, 7. incisive, 8. unsullied, 9. lucid, 10. invulnerable, 11. benevolent, 12. sharp, 13. irresistible, 14. beneficent, 15. loving to man, 16. steadfast, 17. dependable, 18. unperturbed, 19. almighty, 20. all-surveying, 21. interpenetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits (Wisdom 7: 22-23). These 3 x 7 = 21 names of wisdom in the Book of Wisdom symbolise wisdom’s perfect (x3) completeness (x7) expanding into her 3 x 7 = 21 perfecting completeness of completeness which is revelation of the perfection of wisdom in consummating completeness.
Gnomic wisdom loves to recapitulate mysteries of wisdom and glory without weariness or exhaustion, never ceasing to attend to the Spirit’s unceasing prayer in the heart, prayer that uses ineffable words that only an awakened heart can hear. The Spirit uses the ineffable spiritual language of graced insight, the language of spiritual discernment, not the sophisticated speech of rational argument or the vacuous sophistry of brilliant dialectics. Hidden wisdom is not subject to clever criticisms or sophisticated debate, because it relies instead on the mind of Christ, who relies on the mind of the Spirit to discern the mind of the Father (1 Cor 2:16). This is Orthodox Christian wisdom that discerns the glory of Holy Trinity, wisdom that purifies and enlightens the heart, opening glorification of God to God’s own God-centred glorification of God.
Elders imbibe this wisdom in the Spirit, imparting it as radical prophecy which communicates the Word that names the saving Name. Saints receive it in the Spirit with profound prayer of the Spirit in the heart, under no illusion that they receive it by themselves, for themselves or possess it as their own apart from God. Unlike conventional rationality, wisdom imparts enlightenment to the eye of the heart, without which God-centred glorification of God is inconceivable. Recapitulation is easily confused with vain repetition by secular rationalism, unwilling to encircle incomprehensible mysteries that mere rationality cannot grasp. In contrast, wisdom loves to spiral into and circle around the gnomic mysteries of its engendering, endlessly exploring the glorious profundity of their inexhaustible depths. There is nothing sterile or satiated about wisdom’s hallowing hiddenness. On the contrary, holy hiddenness is intrinsic to wisdom’s inexhaustible capacity for deepening insight, offering new openings to wisdom’s expanding perfection and glory’s consummating completeness without premature closure and without any rationally definitive or constricting end.