Can You Know God Apart From Christ?
Is there knowledge of God in the world that does not depend on a person hearing the name “Jesus?” The answer to this question basically depends on your view of general revelation.
Psalm 19.1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
From passages like this, Christians (and in this case Jews) will say that creation itself reveals things about the Creator. In other words, we can know something about God by looking at what He has made. (Note: creation includes all things in existence - both the world around us as well as man himself).
General revelation only paints a picture of God in very broad strokes.
Most often, creation is said to point to God in a very general way. We might be able to know things like that He is very powerful, He has a great capacity for design, or that He has created a moral law (which we all break from time to time).
However, we don’t get a lot of specifics with this approach. We might be fairly certain of some general things about the moral law, for example, but anyone who thinks about it it for very long will have a lot of questions that general revelation simply will not answer.
Christ, on the other hand, is said to be the full revelation of God - everything man can know about God can be seen in him. The Christian claim is that all those specifics we were looking for but couldn't find in general revelation can be found in looking at Jesus of Nazareth.
So, back to our original question, “Can you know God apart from Christ?”
The answer is Yes, but not very well. From merely looking at the world around us, we can gain some knowledge, but we are bound to make a lot of mistakes. We might know that there is a higher power, but not which one(s). We might know about sin but not about redemption.
In the end, we will have a partial picture of the divine, but it won’t be a very good one. If we want to really understand something about God, we need to look to see if God has actually revealed things about Himself to man. That is the only way to get accurate knowledge of the divine.