Sanders Asks How Calvin Knows What God is Like

John Sanders from The God Who Risks:

…the notion that God grieves has long troubled many scholars. Many held that it is not appropriate to attribute such changes to God. Instead, such language should be understood as divine “accommodation” to our level of understanding. That is, God is not actually like these biblical depictions. John Calvin, for instance, in reference to the biblical text about God experiencing changing emotions or changes of mind said that such texts do not inform us what God is really like. Rather, he claimed that in these texts God “lisps” to us as does a nursemaid to a young child. Though God may be lisping to us in the biblical depictions, the question is how we know this. After all, we know that the nursemaid is speaking “baby talk” because we know what “adult talk” is like. But if Scripture is “baby talk,” then from where do we get our “adult talk” about God? Do we obtain it from natural theology? If the Bible contains both baby talk and true talk about God then we need a criterion by which to distinguish between them. Unfortunately, Calvin does not disclose how he decides which biblical texts go into which category.

Leave a Reply