Calvinist on God’s Unknowability

“The perfection of learning is to know God in such a way that, though you realize he is not unknowable, yet you know him as indescribable.” The knowledge we have of God is altogether unique. This knowledge may be called positive insofar as by it we recognize a being infinite and distinct from all finite creatures. On the other hand, it is negative because we cannot ascribe a single predicate to God as we conceive that predicate in relation to creatures. It is therefore an analogical knowledge: a knowledge of a being who is unknowable in himself, yet able to make something of himself known in the being he created. Here, indeed, lies something of an antinomy. Rather, agnosticism, suffering from a confusion of concepts, sees here an irresolvable contradiction in what Christian theology regards as an adorable mystery. It is completely incomprehensible to us how God can reveal himself and to some extent make himself known in created beings: eternity in time, immensity in space, infinity in the finite, immutability in change, being in becoming, the all, as it were, in that which is nothing. This mystery cannot be comprehended; it can only be gratefully acknowledged.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (pp. 22-23). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


  1. Excellent Article!!

    Consider how it is that the human mind comes to trust in something.
    In order for trust to occur, there must be something to trust in.
    Trust – in order to mature into a true lasting trust – requires two things:
    – Consistency over time
    – Repeatability

    When a father pushes his little girl on a swing, how does he know exactly when to push?
    If he pushes when the swing is coming closer to him, he will disrupt the swings movement.
    He must wait until the swing has reached himself and is starting on its return away from himself.

    He must observe the back and forth movement of the swing – and his mind must recognize in its movement, consistency over time, and repeatability.

    We are the same way with trusting in another person.
    A wife who is repeatedly slapped by her husband learns to anticipate this treatment.
    A wife who is consistently and repeatedly honored by her husband eventually learns this as a part of his personal character – and she learns to trust him for it.

    But what, in John Calvin’s conception of god is there to trust?

    Pastor John Piper says the Calvinist can trust
    -quote “that the god of the universe will always do RIGHT”.

    But what does “RIGHT” mean in this context?
    If Calvin’s god chooses to throw you (as a baby) into the fire of Molech – you can at least take comfort and trust in the fact that he did “RIGHT”.

    In Calvinism’s “good-evil” system of Gnostic/NeoPlatonic dualism – “RIGHT” can mean good and “RIGHT” can mean evil. Which one is it? According to John Calvin it is according to his -quote “good pleasure”.

    So what is there to “know” about the intentions and character of John Calvin’s god?
    And what is there to trust?

    Calvinists learn mental blocking exercises. They learn to block out thoughts of foreboding and thoughts of dread concerning his intentions for them and their eternal destiny.
    He loves me – he loves me not. He saved me – he saved me not.

    In Calvin’s world of good-evil dualism, the mind learns the cognitive pattern of double-think.
    The conscious mind exercises frontal-lob faith – that his intentions are benevolent while blocking out thoughts of the possibility his intentions may be malevolent.

    Benevolence or malevolence are according to -quote “the secret counsel of his will”.
    These are aspects of the cognitive characteristics of “knowability” in Calvinism.

    1. Yes – you can tell by the language and concepts as enunciated by Plotinus who describes the “ONE” ( identified by the Christian NeoPlatonists as god).

      “The “ONE” is absent from nothing and from everything……Therefore we must go beyond knowledge and hold to unity. We must renounce knowing and knowable, every object of thought, even Beauty, because Beauty, too, is posterior to The “ONE” and is derived from it as, from the sun, the daylight. That is why Plato says of The “ONE”, ‘It can neither be spoken of nor written about.’

      Quotes from: The Essential Plotinus: Representative Treatises from the Enneads,

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