Blogging the Institutes–1.13.1–God is Immense and Spirit

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

God is Immense and Spirit 

The teaching of Scripture about the immensity and spirituality of God’s essence should not only drive away pagan religion but also profane philosophy. One ancient thinker thought he was profound when he said that everything we see and everything we don’t see is God. He thought God was infused into every part of the world. Although God doesn’t indulge us with a lot of information about His essence, two of His attributes should suppress all of our speculations. His immensity should deter us from measuring him according to human standards, while Him being a spirit should keep us from human speculation about what He is like.

In Scripture, He frequently tells us that heaven is His dwelling-place. It is true that although He is incomprehensible, He also fills the earth. He knows our minds are sluggish and bound to the earth so He raises us up above to world to shake us free of those things. Here we have a refutation of the Manichees. The Manichees make the devil almost as great as God! They did this to restrict His immensity and destroy His unity. They twist Scripture to “prove” their points. What they actually prove is their own shameful ignorance. The Ampophromorphites, on the other hand, dream up a material God because eyes, ears, and mouth are said to describe God in the Bible. Such line of thinking is easily refuted. They are so stupid! God speaks to us in “baby babble” like mothers do to their children. Such descriptions of God do not accurately represent God’s essence. They are God’s accommodation to us so that we can understand something about Him. In doing so, He must, of course, bend down way below His proper height.

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