Wednesday, April 2

The Subject

"God is never the object of theology; He is always the subject of theology." Helmut Thielecke

"God is never the object of the church; He is always the subject of the church." Carl Trueman


D Patrick Cassidy said...

I suspect these two comments seem clever by the way they employ 'subject' and 'object', but I am not sure our esteemed colleagues achieve as much as they hope from the contrast. God is all and in all, both subject and object, alpha and omega, source and goal, subject of most devoted study, object of most satisfying adoration, defying definition and comprehensive exploration, while making himself truly known in Christ so that he is not (in Barthian terms) wholly other, but rather Immanuel.

But perhaps I missed the context.

Paul Buckley said...

I, too, read these and think, "Why pit subject and object against each other? Why not both?"

Perhaps we could say that the true and living God can be the object of theology only because he has first made himself subject.

I like Aquinas, as Vos quotes him on p. v of Biblical Theology:

Theology "is taught by God, teaches God, leads to God."

Ligon Duncan said...

Thanks George. It was great to have you at the Twin Lakes Fellowship. Hope you were encouraged and refreshed.

Let me give credit where credit is due. The first quote, in Carl Trueman' lecture on the Heidelberg Catechism, about theology is from Helmut Thielecke. I take his point to be that God "does theology" rather than theology being that which we do about God - sort of a Van Til "thinking God's thoughts after him" kind of angle.

The second quote is Carl Trueman, who cited Thielecke and applied it to make the point that "God does church" in the sense that the church is the act of God, rather than the church being something that, fundamentally, we "do." Carl was critiquing the modern jargon of "doing church."

Hope this helps.

Your friend,


gileskirk said...

Ligon: Thanks for both the correction and the clarification--that's what I get for scribbling quotes in the margins of my Moleskine instead of properly attributing them in my notes as I go along. I'll adjust and edit accordingly. This past week was an utter delight, providing deep refreshment and profound encouragement. Thank you for your faithful labors.