Friday, December 29, 2006

Peeping Thomases

Come on, admit it: We've all desired, at one point or another, to steal a glimpse of God naked.

I'm not speaking literally, of course, since God is incorporeal and therefore has no need of clothing to cover a body he doesn't even have. But figuratively speaking, the desire to trespass the boundaries of our creaturely jurisdiction and sneak a peek behind the curtain is as old as Eve and the apple. "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" is every bit as tempting today as it was then, especially when the knowledge sought for concerns the contents of the Book of Life.

Yet as Luther has reminded us, the Deus nudus is not for us to gaze at, but our understanding of the divine is limited to the Deus revelatus: God as he has revealed himself in Scripture.

While our confessionalism requires that we repudiate the low regard for the visible church that characterizes pietism (whether liberal or evangelical), it is also the case that we take issue with Rome and her elevation of the institutional church at the expense of the invisible one.

This means that the confessionalist most certainly recognizes the existence of a smaller circle of elect saints within the larger circle of the covenant community. But precisely who the subjects of election and regneration are—well, that's not ours to determine.

We're perfectly content to leave those questions to the Deus nudus and the voyeuristic peeping Thomases whose enquiring minds want to know....