Quiz #1, Question #1, "reflect"

Andrew Lee -

Question
My students had a question of the valadity of Q 1 on Mod 6 Quiz 1.   "I don't like this word 'reflects' because it implies a likeness not what it actually is. An atribute is an intrinsic quality of who God IS. an attribute of God does not 'reflect' something true about him, it is something true about him." The students believe the Q is False. Can you coment please.

Answer
Thanks so much for facilitating the module on God the Father, and your insightful comment about Quiz 1.  I take your question and comment to be rooted in the semantics (multiple word usages) of the term "reflects."  What we emphasize in all our discussion about the nature of God is the patent limits of language to speak unequivocally about God as he is in himself.  The promise of language is that it is the only tool we have to describe the ineffable and unexplainable; the problem of language is that that it is the only tool we have to describe the ineffable and unexplainable (repetition intended).  In other words, the worst habit of thinking we can get into is thinking that there is a one-to-one relationship between our abstracted descriptions of God's infinite nature and our (in this case) English linguistic expressions about the Lord.  Is the Lord loving, holy, just, great?  Yes, and no, should be the correct answer.  These attributes or qualities are abstractions inferred from Scripture and the our reason, and, to some extent, we can in fact comprehend him through them.  Yet, in another sense, are these abstractions weighty enough to serve as a final "listing' of the immeasurable, infinite, and invisible glory that is the triune God?  Never.  Language is a marker, an indicator, a map of the territory (to mix metaphors).  Abstracted language is not sufficient to describe a steak, an orange, or a sunset, and absolutely cannot be equated with the very person and being of God.  We cannot adequately describe a pencil with our language; how can we assert that our English "tools' are final and unequivocal descriptions of infinite glory?  We cannot.

The limitations of language is a major part of this module, and of the Scripture.  Why else would the Lord provide dozens of metaphors and similes to give us increasing facets (anthropomorphic as they are) into his glory.  The history of theology is clear that God is known through the analogy of faith; there is no direct language that can sufficiently or finally "describe" the Lord (e.g., look at the difficulty the prophets and apostles have in speaking of their visions, Ezekiel and John).  While you may technically correct, your assertion misses the force of the module's central teaching; language, as helpful as it is, is limited in describing the ineffable, and must be, even at its best and clearest use, always we seen as an abstraction (in the literal sense, i.e., an isolation and induction of a trait from the shoreless ocean of perfections that make up the Godhead).  This is why the answer is correct as listed.

Thanks for your insightful comment and question.  We are thankful for mentors like yourself and the insight/ideas you raised.

Have more questions? Submit a request

Comments

Powered by Zendesk