There are those who would argue that to speak about God is to be guilty of idolatry. The guilt supposedly comes in two waves. First, of course, because He is infinite and we are not, nothing we can say about God will ever be utterly accurate, and so we distort His being. The second wave, however, is the one that would drown us. This view holds that in speaking about God we place ourselves above Him. Here the idolatry is not a faulty view of God, but that we think we are God. In speaking about God, aren’t we “putting Him under a microscope,” as if He were some sort of specimen under our control?
There are, however, two countervailing problems with this line of argument. First, if we say that God is ineffable, wholly other, infinite, and indescribable, what are we doing but describing Him? We may be describing Him via negation, but we do that all the time. I am not tall; neither am I thin. That, despite telling you what I am not, does tell you something of what I am.
The second problem is this: One of the first things we see about God when we look at Him under our microscope is that He is happy to be there. One of the first truths we discover about God is that He is a Revealer. God delights to make Himself known. What we discover under this microscope is that if we really want to get a good look at God, we need a telescope. All of the creation exists for the single purpose of making visible the invisible glory of God. If we would know Him, we must know His creation.
What we also find under the microscope is that we are likewise under the microscope. That is, the more we know about who God is, the more we know that He knows who we are, that we live every moment coram Deo, before His face. He looks at us and we look at Him.
But that we have this in common with God does not make us peas in a pod. This month in Tabletalk, we will look at God’s incommunicable attributes, those things about Him that we do not share. Next month, we will look at His communicable attributes, seeing that though He alone is God and there is no other, there is yet between us a family resemblance.
Our prayer, as always, is that as we look at these things we will see Him more clearly, and through that, that we will glorify Him more powerfully.