Jesus Of Nazareth: The Final Revelation Of God -- By: Thomas N. Smith
RAR 8:4 (Fall 1999) p. 27
Jesus Of Nazareth: The Final Revelation Of God
Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Thus the Westminster Shorter Catechism defines God.1 the great Princeton theologian, Charles Hodge, called this “probably the best definition of God ever penned by man.2 A myriad of Reformed thinkers since Hodge has nodded their approval of this assessment. This is striking in that Hodge is a Christian theologian, while the “definition” in question is not distinctively Christian at all. Aristotle could have written it. In fact Aristotle did have a hand in its composition, in that the Puritan divines sitting in the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster were all trained in the Aristotelian philosophy, logic, and rhetoric of a late-medieval university education. The influence of alien philosophies (such as Aristotle’s) upon Christian theology has continued to bedevil us to this day.
This is true even among the friends of the Bible. It happens like this. We want to talk about God; we begin with an idea of God. (The answer to Question 4 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is as good as any and better than some.) We go on to discuss the existence of God, the attributes of God, the decrees of God, the works of God, etc. Before we do any of this, perhaps we should begin with epistemology:
RAR 8:4 (Fall 1999) p. 28
how we know, and, particularly, how we know about God. This leads us to questions of natural revelation, special revelation, the Bible, its inspiration, etc. After we have dealt with the questions of creation, providence, sin, etc., we finally come to Jesus Christ. Sadly, the whole agenda is set by a philosophical methodology alien to the Bible.
The mention just now of methodology is important because all this has to do with method. You will have already gathered that I believe that this particular method is flawed, fatally flawed. This is true at least from a Christian perspective. Nevertheless, this method has dominated Reformed theology long before Hodge and long since.3 The result has not been a happy one, either for Christian thinking about God or for Christian proclamation of God.
What I am advocating is this: The
God who is the true and living God
cannot be known in truth apart from
His final and full disclosure of Himself.
This revelation has been made in
the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
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