Sunday, 4 December 2016


'Reformed theology has been more absorbed in multiplying words than in entertaining mystery. Despite its lip service to the notion of God's indescribable grandeur, the tradition talks and writes endlessly about what cannot be said. It aspires to an apophatic sense of awe, but retains a penchant for logical expectation. It pierces the mystery of the divine will through intricate efforts at reconciling God's foreknowledge and human destiny. It solves the conundrum of God's permission of evil by reducing the divine to tidy intellectual constructs. It emphasizes God's utter transcendence to the extent of trivializing the world that God has made. The result is a relentless proliferation of words and an utter failure of wonder. 
In contrast, God's self-disclosure in creation (as emphasized in other parts of the tradition) would take us out of ourselves, opening our language to the energy of the metaphor, challenging our presumptions about our place in the world, and questioning our arrogant claims to master the mysteries of the divine. It summons us to amazement - to the irrepressible energies of desire. Calvin himslef urged that the goal of God's revelation in creation and Scripture alike is "that we be ravished in love with our God (d'estre ravis en l'armour de nostre dieu) and inflamed with a right affection to obey him, and keep ourselves strictly in awe of him."To know God, in his thinking, is to desire God, to be ravished by a beauty beyond our understanding. 
Calvin and Edwards grasped the truth that the sensuous body of the earth teaches us what our minds are unable to bear. For them, the spiritual life necessarily begins with longing. Intellectual questions are always secondary. Ours is a faith seeking understanding (fides quaerens intellectum). We understand only what we have first experienced through arousal of desire.' 
Belden C Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p.213.