Out of Sight, Out of Mind


“We tend to struggle with things we cannot see. Child psychologists say that if you show young babies a toy and then remove it from their line of sight, they do not realize that the toy still exists. But to be honest, adults can live a bit like this too. That’s why we live our daily lives as if famine in Somalia or child prostitution in Cambodia are not real (and why charities try to remind us that they are by showing us pictures of them). It’s why people commit adultery when they are away from their families. It’s why we have a debt-ridden culture, as people ignore things they can’t see (like debts or bankruptcy in the future) in favor of things they can (like fast cars and big houses and trips around the world). Often, it really is a case of out of sight, out of mind.” -Andre Wilson, Incomparable

Progressive Revelation from Genesis to Exodus

“The nomadic patriarchs are few in number and know/experience God as El Shaddai (El/God Almighty), the only patriarchal divine name of El compounded with a descriptive word and not restricted to a given altar. But the patriarchs have never known/ experienced the name I AM. To be sure, the patriarchs invoke the name I AM, but the patriarchal narratives never assert that the patriarchs “know/experience” this name.” -Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology

Knowledge of God

“Now, the knowledge of God, as I understand it, is that by which we not only conceive that there is a God, but also grasp what befits us and is proper to his glory, in fine, what is to our advantage to know him. Indeed, we shall not say that, properly speaking, God is known where there is no religion or piety.” -John Calvin

Calvin’s Institutes, Book I (Part 1)

1.1.1. Knowledge of God – its existence. Reasoning from self to God (lesser to the greater)

1.1.2 Knowledge of God – its existence. Reasoning from God to self (greater to lesser)

1.1.3. Knowledge of God – its existence.  Its effect on man.

1.2.1. The nature of this knowledge of God. It is two-fold and religious.

1.2.2. The nature of this knowledge of God. It guides and instructs piety.

1.3.1. The implanted knowledge of God. Its definition and existence.

1.3.2. The implanted knowledge of God. Fraudulent religion is built on the reality of implanted knowledge.

1.3.3. The implanted knowledge of God. It cannot be destroyed no matter how hard some try.

1.4.1. The corruption of implanted knowledge of God. Superstition.

1.4.2. The corruption of implanted knowledge of God. Turning away.

1.4.3. The corruption of implanted knowledge of God. ‘Will worship’ and doctrine-less religion

1.4.4. The corruption of implanted knowledge of God. Hypocrisy

1.5.1. The knowledge of God in creation. Mode. God uses all of creation to give knowledge.

1.5.2. The knowledge of God in creation. Extent. God gives it throughout all of creation.

1.5.3. The knowledge of God in creation. Man especially displays God’s power and truth.

1.5.4. The knowledge of God in creation. Reception. Man rejects this display of God’s power that is within himself.

1.5.5. The knowledge of God in creation. Various confusions of this ‘internal’ revelation in man from God.

1.5.6. The knowledge of God in creation. Purpose. So that we would direct our faith to God.

1.5.7. The knowledge of God in creation. Providence.

1.5.8. The knowledge of God in creation. Purpose of providence (expounded from Psalm 107) 

1.5.9. The knowledge of God in creation. Piety. Not speculation, but contemplation.

1.5.10. The knowledge of God in creation. (another) Purpose of Providence. To lead us to hope in God.

1.5.11. The knowledge of God in creation. Its rejection by man.

1.5.12. The knowledge of God in creation. This rejection produces superstition and error.

1.5.13. The knowledge of God in creation. Pagan religion is condemned by God.

1.5.14. The knowledge of God in creation. This revelation is not sufficient to restore fallen man.

1.5.15. The knowledge of God in creation. Nevertheless, man is without excuse before God because of this revelation.

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Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word of God, Chapter 3, “The Divine Dilemma and its Solution in the Incarnation (Part 2)”


A Disclaimer on Book Synopses

 11. In creation, humans as creatures could not “of themselves” know God, but only earthly things. But God had “pity” on them, gifting them with a share in His image: the Lord Jesus Christ. This made them “reasonable” and “able to perceive the Image Absolute, that is the Word Himself, and through Him to apprehend the Father.” In the fall, mankind belittled this grace and turned away from God, losing the apprehension of God and becoming idolators.

12. God provided fallen mankind with “safeguards” to help them gain knowledge of the Word and the Father: the works of creation which reveal their Maker, prophets to teach them about God and the impiety of idolatry, and the Law by which they could “cease from lukewarmness and lead a good life.” Nevertheless, men did not lift up their eyes to the truth, like those “reflecting the very Likeness of the Word” should do, but became like “brute beasts.”

13. If God left humankind in this state, it would defeat his purpose in giving the Image and knowledge of the Word to them—as if God made man “for others and not for Himself.” So, God sought to reclaim man and renew his Image in them. The Father sent his Son, “the very Image Himself” to “recreate man made after the Image.” To do this, he had to destroy death and corruption in a human body.

14. Athanasius gives the illustration of a portrait painted on a panel, stained beyond recognition. The artist does not throw away the panel, but has the person come and sit again so his likeness can be re-painted on the same material. Likewise, the Son of God dwelt among humankind so that the image might be renewed in them. Not only this, but the Word dwelt among men, ruined by the “madness of idolatry,” to give them knowledge of the Father, again.

15. The Word dealt with sinful man the way a good teacher deals with his students, he came “down to their level” and used “simple means.” Man had turned from contemplating God to worship creaturely things; so the Word of God “in His great love” became man, moved as men do, and spoke as men spoke “so that those who were seeking God in sensible things might apprehend the Father through the works which He, the Word of God, did in the body.” Through the works he performed in a human body, he ‘eclipsed’ all other human deeds, that “He might recall men from all the paths of error to know the Father.”

16. The Word of God became Man that sinners might “center their senses” on Him and, through Him and His acts, become convinced that He is God. This is why the Word did not immediately offer his body on the cross; “he stayed in His body and let Himself be seen in it, doing acts and giving signs which showed Him to be not only man, but also God the Word.” In sum, the Savior became Man in order to “[banish] death from us and [make] us anew” and “become visible through His works and [reveal] Himself as the Word of the Father, the Ruler and King of the whole creation.”

17. The incarnation is a paradox. “The Word was not hedged in by His body, nor did His presence in the body prevent His being present elsewhere as well.” “At one and the same time– this is the wonder– as Man He was living a human life, and as Word He was sustaining the life of the universe, and as Son He was in constant union with the Father.”

18. Athanasius reflects on the paradox. In eating, drinking, and being born the [ancient] writers speak of the actions of the Word as a Man.  Meanwhile, the actions of the Word as God consisted in sustaining creation and revealing his divinity through the miraculous works he performed as a Man. Though invisible, the Word has always been known through creation. Analogously, now his divinity is veiled by a human nature, but known through miraculous works performed in a human, creaturely body.

Chapter 1          Chapter 2          Chapter 4          Chapter 5          Chapter 6          Chapter 7          Chapter 8          Chapter 9

Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, Chapter 1 “Natural and Revealed Theology”

1. Humanity does have natural knowledge of God (innate knowledge of God, natural religion) [Calvin, Vermigli, Burmann].

2. Natural Religion (innate knowledge of God, acquired knowledge of God, the “book” of conscience, reason, natural religion) [Riissen].

3. The role of reason and conscience in acquiring knowledge of God (religion generally, natural theology and religion, acquired knowledge of God, reason, conscience, man as microcosm ) [Calvin, Heidegger, Riissen, Peter Martyr, Hyperius].

4.  The limitations of natural religion (natural religion, general knowledge of God) [Heidegger, Danaeus].

5. Natural religion provides true knowledge of God (natural religion) [Cocceius].

6. Natural religion is useful (natural knowledge of God) [Heidegger]

7. Natural religion arouses fallen man to seek special revelation (natural knowledge of God, saving knowledge of God) [Cocceius, Heidegger].

8. The essence of true religion (archetypal theology, ectypal theology, theology of the blessed, theology of the pilgrims, true religion, true worship) [Calvin (2x), Danaeus, Wyttenbach, Cocceius, Olevian].

9. The authenticity of revelation (revelation, conscience, illumination, evidences) [Heidegger].

10. Illumination is necessary in order ro receive divine revelation (illumination, the light of nature) [Heidegger, Riissen].

11. The corrupting influence of sin on man’s reception of divine revelation (reason, illumination) [Voetius].

12. The foundation of theology (natural religion and revealed religion, natural reason and illumined reason, faith, Holy Scripture, principium cognoscendi, principium theologia) [Voetius, Heidegger, Riissen, Cocceius].

13. The relationship of reason and faith (reason, faith, religion, worship, revelation) [Heidegger].

14. The proper use of reason in theology (illumined reason, faith, the Holy Spirit, the organic use of reason, illumination, true and false religion) [Heidegger, Riissen].

15. The essence of revealed theology (natural and revealed theology, theology as science, revelation, reason) [Heidegger, Turretin].

16. The distinction between simple and mixed articles (natural religion, simple and mixed articles of faith, uses of philosophy) [Alsted].

“Helps for Studying Heppe” (Introduction)          Chapter 2, “Holy Scripture”          Chapter 3, “The Foundation of Holy Scripture”

Chapter 4, “The Existence and Notion of God”