By R. Michael Allen
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In either case, God is not an item or person in this created order and, thus, cannot be known in the same way that one knows their neighbors or possessions. Again, this is not to say our knowledge is false; it is simply to say that its adequacy should not be confused with comprehensiveness. Reformed theology adopted a modified Thomism in its view of theological language, insisting that words taken from human discourse apply to God neither univocally nor equivocally, but always and only analogically.
It follows from the fidelity and constancy of the triune God. As John Calvin describes this singular way of living with creatures: God works in his elect in two ways: within, through his Spirit; without, through his Word. By his Spirit, illuminating their minds and forming their hearts to the love and cultivation of righteousness, he makes them a new creation. By his Word, he arouses them to desire, to seek after, and to attain that same renewal. 5, vol. 1, p. 19, in BC, p. 61). The structures of the Old Covenant are not simply useless now that they have been fulfilled.
We do well, then, to note key tendencies and concerns of divergent visions. The modern ethos within which follows critical study of ancient texts—in this case, the Christian Bible—tends to subvert any claims for metaphysical or moral authority in liberal Protestantism. Thus, we read of Lessing’s famed “ditch” between the accidental facts of history (discerned by historical-critical study) and the universal truths of religion, ethics, or philosophy (not capable of historical-critical demonstration).