Archive for March, 2008

The Reformed faith has traditionally spoken of God condescending to reveal himself in creation. Presupposed in this assertion is that God is infinite in his own essence, both qualitatively and quantitatively. God is of a different type of “being” altogether, existing wholly within himself, outside of our plane of space and time. He is outside of our scale of being. In order for us to have knowledge of this wholly other God, God has revealed himself in an appropriate fashion. Calvin referred to this as accommodation, and this has given some occasion for question. It is very easy to interpret this accommodating as a less desirable way of relating, as if in the best of all possible worlds man could overcome this situation. However well-intentioned such a desire may be, it is indeed quite fatal, for what is called “accommodation” is really just one attempt at the larger Christian doctrine of analogy, that is, the relationship between the infinite and the finite.

This concept is indeed not free from controversy. I do not wish to touch on Aquinas’s use of the analogia entis, nor will I tread upon Eastern Orthodoxy’s distinction between God’s essence and his energies. These are all attempts to get at the same thing, and postmodernity has given a new popularity to questions of “being.” For our purposes, I would like to examine what the Reformed faith’s doctrine of the covenant has to offer on this question.

There is some diversity within the Reformed tradition as we well know. Everyone remembers the Van Til/Clark controversy, though few understand it still. Calvin scholarship is also divided on just what he meant “accommodation” and “condescension” to achieve. Was it specifically aimed at salvation or was it simply the relationship between Creator and creation? In order to get beyond some of these disputes and to the point of interaction with the topic at hand, I am basically assuming Van Til’s position, and I am assuming Van Til’s position to be basically consistent with Reformed Orthodoxy. Muller’s Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics supports this, and as I proceed, I will interact with Scott Oliphint’s Reasons {for Faith}, which will also substantiate this point. And in doing all of this, I believe that I will interact with a few points mentioned elsewhere concerning the sacraments and the covenant.


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