Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Incomprehensible

Incomprehensible or Inscrutable is the attribute we will look at today.  And we at the onset admit to the fact that if/since God is infinite we being finite cannot know Him in its fullest sense for to do so would by necessity make us infinite as well.  So with that in mind let’s begin as usual with Webster’s 1828 which states: 

Incomprehensible –
1. That cannot be comprehended or understood; That is beyond the reach of human intellect; inconceivable.

Inscrutable –
1. Unsearchable; that cannot be searched into and understood by inquiry or study.  

2. That cannot be penetrated, discovered or understood by human reason.

And unlike propitiate and expiate which although seemingly are the same but in actuality are vastly different, Incomprehensible and Inscrutable are seemingly different but in actuality are the same and are therefore synonymous.  So that we can state of God that “He cannot be comprehended or understood.  That He is beyond the reach of human intellect and is therefore inconceivable and uncontainable.  That He is unsearchable and cannot be understood by inquiry or study and that He cannot be penetrated, discovered, or understood by human reason.”

Wow that was a mouthful, but in reality and in light of the above understanding we could go on, at least in theory, forever and exhaust human ability and still not plumb the depths.  I know I am exhausted pretty quickly.  Anyway

As we admit this we also recognize the paradox inherent here, for we are ever mindful as we study God that He is in His essence, unknowable (Isa 55:8).  He is far above us; exalted infinitely higher than we, His creation; infinitely above our conception, thought, or language.  God’s essence, that is what He is in and of Himself, is hidden from us and beyond our ability to understand.  However and here’s the paradox, God has given us the ability in His Word to know that He is, and to know what He is even if in a very limited way.  He in fact calls us to Himself asking us to reason with Him (Isa 1:18).

Therefore, while Scripture teaches the absolute incomprehensibility of God (Job 38:1 - 41:34), they also present a doctrine of God that fully maintains His knowability.  And He has revealed to us, at least in part, His purpose for doing so, that we may worship Him as God (Rom 1:20-23) and have eternal life (John 17:3).  This is but one of the many tensions found in the Scriptures. 

Yet even in His revealing Himself He condescends to us purely out of His grace and mercy for He needs nothing from us as He is complete in every way humanly imaginable.  It was Augustine who said “We are speaking of God.  Is it any wonder that you do not comprehend?  For if you comprehended Him He cannot be God.  Let this be a pious confession of great ignorance rather than a rash profession of knowledge.  To have a very slight knowledge of God is a great blessing.  To comprehend Him is altogether impossible.”


No comments: