“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.
Terms Explain Divine Mysteries
Heretics bark and howl over the use of the term “person.” Yet they have no ground to do so since Scripture demonstrates that three persons are named but all are perfect God. There is no plurality of gods. It’s not cool to attack a term which merely summarizes what the Bible actually teaches. The heretics argue back that it’s best to only use words found in the Bible. Otherwise, Christians keep arguing about these technical theological terms and love is lost because of it.
Now, if these heretics call the use of theological terms as being foreign to the Bible and advocate for only using Biblical terms, then they put themselves in a bind: they could propose only an interpretation of Scripture unless it used only use words found in the Bible! If they call the use of theological terms as being foreign to the Bible because they think that the terms were thought up carelessly and then become superstitiously defended, then I agree with their sober-mindedness. If theological terms offend good Christians and lead them away from the simplicity of God’s Word, we must be careful. We must speak about God with as much reverence as we think about Him! To the extent that our thoughts of Him are foolish so will our words be foolish. Still, some kind of language must be used.
The standard of truth for both thinking and speaking must come from Scripture. The Bible should test every thought we think and every words we speak. But some parts of Scripture–to our limited minds–are hard to understand. In those cases, as long as we use various terms reverentially and in submission to Scripture, I think it is ok to use them sparingly and modestly. There are many examples of this. If it is proved that the Church has used the terms “Trinity,” and “Person” as a matter of necessity will people still rail against those terms? The person who does so should be suspected at arguing against the light of truth. The only reason why he is upset is because the truth has been made plain for all to see.