My 4 volume set of Muller’s Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics came in yesterday; I was tempted to stay up all night, but Sunday’s sermons are more pressing. By the way – thanks to Matt for pointing this CBD sale out.
Here’s Muller describing “the relationship between archetypal and ectypal theology – a precondition of Christian doctrine” (I.229). [In other words, as we approach theology, how do we explain and account for the vast and immeasurable distance between God and man? Can we know what God knows? Can we know anything at all? Is God too hidden to be known? Can we climb on God's desk and see what he's writing?]
Muller: “Beginning with Luther, the Reformation had a strong sense of the transcendence of God, indeed, the hiddenness of God in and behind his revelation. Drawing on this assumption, Calvin argued the accommodated nature of God’s revelation: God reveals himself not as he is in his infinite majesty but in a form accessible to human beings.”
“So too is a distinction made by Calvin and others between the eternal decree of God and its execution in time – accompanied by the proviso that human beings can never enter the ultimate mind and will of God to discern its contents but must trust in what has been revealed and must gain assurance from the revelation of Christ and from his work in the hearts and minds of God’s people.”
“Thus, the theology of the Reformation recognized not only that God is distinct from his revelation and that the one who reveals cannot be fully comprehended in the revelation, but also that the revelation, given in a finite and understandable form, must truly rest on the eternal truth of God: this is the fundamental message and intention of the distinction between archetypal and ectypal theology” (Ibid.).
This is great, simply outstanding. We cannot climb onto God’s desk to see what’s going on, but he has handed us notes and outlines that suffice in our knowledge of him and his will. These notes and outlines are sufficient and clear, authoritative and accommodated, but we don’t and never will have access to that divine desktop, so to speak. We do have enough, however - all that we need in life and in death.
Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics Volume One (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003).