Quotes of the Day: Calvin and Augustine on Mystery

If at any time thoughts of this kind come into the minds of the pious, they will be sufficiently armed to repress them, by considering how sinful it is to insist on knowing the causes of the divine will, since it is itself, and justly ought to be, the cause of all that exists. For if his will has any cause, there must be something antecedent to it, and to which it is annexed; this it were impious to imagine. The will of God is the supreme rule of righteousness, so that everything which he wills must be held to be righteous by the mere fact of his willing it. Therefore, when it is asked why the Lord did so, we must answer, Because he pleased. But if you proceed farther to ask why he pleased, you ask for something greater and more sublime than the will of God, and nothing such can be found. Let human temerity then be quiet, and cease to inquire after what exists not, lest perhaps it fails to find what does exist. This, I say, will be sufficient to restrain any one who would reverently contemplate the secret things of God.

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Many say that Calvinists put God in a box (whatever that silly phrase means). But little do they realize how much mystery Calvinists (should) embrace.

You a man expect an answer from me: I also am a man. Wherefore, let us both listen to him who says, ‘O man, who art thou?’ Believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge. Seek merits; you will find nought but punishment. O the height! Peter denies, a thief believes. O the height! Do you ask the reason? I will tremble at the height. Reason you, I will wonder; dispute you, I will believe. I see the height; I cannot sound the depth. Paul found rest, because he found wonder. He calls the judgments of God ‘unsearchable;’ and have you come to search them? He says that his ways are ‘past finding out,’ and do you seek to find them out?

–Augustine (August. de Verb. Apost. Serm. 20)

Sometimes we need to let things go and not try to intellectualize every little thing. Otherwise, I believe it’s great to grow more and more in knowledge and wisdom as God teaches us, and know what we believe, from Scripture and others whom God has gifted to help us.

My heart is not proud,
Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed myself and quieted my ambitions.
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content. Israel,
put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.
Psalm 131

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding–
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6

0 Responses to “Quotes of the Day: Calvin and Augustine on Mystery”


Comments are currently closed.



%d bloggers like this: