Divine Incomprehensibility and Man’s Knowledge of God


Can we know anything about God? The deity’s traditional designation as “incomprehensible” is apt to make the unsuspecting nervous that those who talk in such a way mean we cannot. This would be problematic, of course, because Scripture clearly indicates that we do know God, and things about God. As Jesus says in John 17.3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

The Benefits of Learning Latin for Regular Pastors


Benefits of Latin for “regular” pastors? Well, what’s an irregular pastor? While I’d argue Latin is beneficial to all pastors, whether those of mega, medium, or minor congregations, there are certain pastors who may never study Latin—the Irregulars. Their ministries are somewhat restricted, perhaps only to the pulpit, with staff and assistants handling many daily administrative tasks that plague the schedules of mule-pastors who carry many ministry stones on their shoulders: bulletins, frequent visitation and counseling, or unclogging toilets forgotten by the few deacons busy that week anyway.

Calvin on the Public Rites of Confession and Absolution


Lourdes, Haute Pyrénées, France: Pilgrims Praying and Confessing by the Roadside

 

This article by Clayton Hutchins was originally published in Ad Fontes Volume III, Issue 2.

 

In the third book of his Institutes, John Calvin argues that the church’s worship should begin with a corporate prayer of confession:

Besides the fact that ordinary confession has been commended by the Lord’s mouth, no one of sound mind, who weighs its usefulness, can dare disapprove it. For since in every sacred assembly we stand before the sight of God and the angels, what other beginning of our action will there be than the recognition of our own unworthiness? But that, you say, is done through every prayer; for whenever we pray for pardon, we confess our sin. Granted. But if you consider how great is our complacency, our drowsiness, or our sluggishness, you will agree with me that it would be a salutary regulation if the Christian people were to practice humbling themselves through some public rite of confession. For even though the ceremony that the Lord laid down for the Israelites was a part of the tutelage of the law, still the reality underlying it in some manner pertains also to us. And indeed, we see this custom observed with good results in well-regulated churches: that every Lord’s Day the minister frames the formula of confession in his own and the people’s name, and by it he accuses all of wickedness and implores pardon from the Lord. In short, with this key a gate to prayer is opened both to individuals in private and to all in public.[1]

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A Word from Musculus to Theology Students


Loci Communes in usus S. Theologiae Candidatorum parati

The second generation Wolfgang Musculus’s (1497–1563) Loci Communes in usus S. Theologiae Candidatorum parati (1560) is a fine, early example of a Reformed system produced to aid pastoral students of theology. As such, while preparing for The Davenant Latin Institute’s Advanced Latin: Theology Proper in the Early Modern Period class I’m teaching this semester, I enjoyed much the following section, occuring at the head of Musculus’ whole work, immediately prefacing his de deo. For students of the Post-Reformation, and students of theology more broadly, it orients us properly to engage in the great task of considering the divine Majesty in whatever part of the broader systematic project we occupy ourselves with—a project which is, after all, just the saying of Deus in recto et in obliquo. Here’s the text: Read more…

Debating the Simple God



In the last few years, few issues have been more controversial among Reformed evangelicals than the debate over the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father.[1] To the extent that God’s intra-triune life has been thought to be the foundation and model of inter-human relationships, many have perceived their various social programs (particularly in relation to the sexes) to be at stake, at times driving the debate’s resolution in a particular direction. One meta-issue continually at the forefront in the debate over eternal subordination concerns the traditional doctrine of God’s simplicity. In classical Christian theology, it is insisted that God is not composed of parts. The simple in divine simplicity is not simple as opposed to complex, but simple as opposed to composite. It is clear that, for instance, God is not a composition of soul and body. But from the classical theist perspective, the doctrine of divine simplicity goes further than this. God is also not composed of His attributes. They do not inhere in Him as accidental properties of a fundamental “God” substance. Rather, God’s existence is simply as His attributes, which simply are Him, and which (then) are to be seen as diverse ways of naming all that is in God. What is more, since there is only one God who just is (for instance) His own will, it is problematic—from a classical perspective—to speak of the Son as “submitting” to the Father in the intra-triune life from eternity past. It is difficult to see how this would not imply a multiplicity of wills of which God’s supposed “one will” is an amalgam. Read more…