A God Of Wood Or Stone

Dr. John Owen - 17th Century Puritan TheologianTwo closely linked flaws in Man’s character causes us, time and time again, great harm as we seek to apprehend the nature of the God(s) and Divine Will, these being our Vanity and our Hubris.

In giving in to these two faults so many raise themselves up above their rightful station in the order of all things and claim that they know the nature and will of the God(s).

This, as the 17th Century Puritan theologian, Dr. John Owen pointed out, is merely the making of a God or Gods out of our own limited thoughts as if one was carving one out wood or stone.

For the being of God; we are so far from a knowledge of it, so as to be able to instruct one another therein by words and expressions of it, as that to frame any conceptions in our mind, with such species and impressions of things as we receive the knowledge of all other things by, is to make an idol to ourselves, and so to worship a god of our own making, and not the God that made us. We may as well and as lawfully hew him out of wood or stone as form him a being in our minds, suited to our apprehensions. The utmost of the best of our thoughts of the being of God is, that we can have no thoughts of it. Our knowledge of a being is but low when it mounts no higher but only to know that we know it not.

— Dr. John Owen (1616-1683),
The Mortification of Sin

Better by far, I think, that Man cultivate a certain agnosticism born of proper humility and knowledge of our mean nature. Such a path, if followed with diligence and scrupulousness, seems to me far more likely to bring a man, and perhaps Man et al, to a higher estate both in this life and at the time of its unavoidable ending and judgment, than more certain and Prideful religious enterprises.

Related Reading:

Christianity: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Guide for Students
Theology for Beginners
Hubris: Why Economists Failed to Predict the Crisis and How to Avoid the Next One
From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature
What's Wrong With Religion

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | |

Leave a Reply