It is unnecessary, we are told, to have a “conception” of God; theology, or the knowledge of God, it is said, is the death of religion; we should not seek to know God, but should merely feel His presence.
With regard to this objection it ought to be observed that if religion consists merely in feeling the presence of God it is devoid of any moral quality whatever. Pure feeling, if there be such a thing, non-moral. What makes affection for a human friend, for example, such an ennobling thing is the knowledge which we possess of the character of our friend. Human affection, apparently so simple, is really just bristling with dogma. It depends on a host of observations treasured up in the mind with regard to the character of our friends. But if human affection is thus really dependent on knowledge, why should it be otherwise with that supreme personal relationship which is at the basis of religion? Why should we be indignant about slanders directed against a human friend, while at the same time we are patient about the basest slanders directed against our God? Certainly it does make the greatest possible difference what we think about God; the knowledge of God is the very basis of religion.
J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, New Edition, ch.3, pp. 47-48