“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.
Be Cautious When Learning About God
Satan has always provoked fierce disputes about the divinity of the Son and Spirit so that our faith would be destroyed. Sometimes, he will also dispute the distinction of persons too. In almost every era, he stirs up heretics to vex orthodox theologians. He attempts to build blazing fire in today’s time out of old embers of bygone disputes. So let me take some time to refute those erroneous views.
My chief aim is to persuade those seeking some guidance, not to argue in circles with the stubborn and argumentative. Not only must the truth be demonstrated again, but it also must be vindicates from the ungodly. Still, our primary purpose is to provide sure footing for those who ears are open to the word of God.
With this topic, we should speculate with sober-mindedness and moderation, cautiously guarding against allowing our mind or language to go beyond God’s word. If people can’t even look directly at the sun, how can a person begin to fully comprehend God and bring down God’s essence? How can we figure out God’s “substance” when we can’t even figure out our own? Therefore, let us willingly leave to God the knowledge of Himself. In the words of Hilary (De Trinit. lib. 1), “He alone is a fit witness to himself who is known only by himself.”
We must allow God speak for Himself since He is the One who can only adequately know Himself. When we try to think about God, we must leave our questions about Him at His Word. On this subject we have five homilies of Chrysostom against the Anomoei (De Incomprehensit. Dei Natura), in which he endeavored to curb vain speculation about God. Those false teachers were very prideful, especially when thinking about God. The results of their theology, which wasn’t good at all, should give us pause when speculating about God. We should only try to find God in His sacred Word and we should never speculate about Him beyond what is written.
Now, if the distinction of Father, Son, and Spirit existing in one Godhead troubles us, let us remember that the human mind enters a maze whenever it chooses to speculate about God. Our minds must submit to the guidance which comes from God’s own Word even though the mystery of God may be beyond our reach.