Original Research

Hidden healer: Farewell to reformed ‘tamed’ theism

Petrus P. Kruger
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2935 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2935 | © 2023 Petrus (Known as: Paul) Paulus Kruger (without Umlaut) | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 January 2023 | Published: 01 November 2023

About the author(s)

Petrus P. Kruger, Department of Systematic Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

This research focuses, firstly, on a farewell from a certain manifestation of traditional, reformed ‘tamed’ theism (that is in this case, theism which neglects or represses the authentic biblical insight into the triune God, who reveals himself in unfathomable hiddenness or ‘masking’). The latter dimension of genuine theism was a central rediscovery of the 16th century Reformation which, however, was widely neglected and even ‘nearly totally forgotten’, according to H. Bavinck, in post-Reformation scholasticism. Reformed theism thus participated to a large measure, in the general rationalistic climate of the modern paradigm and its dogmatic domestication of the living God, into a cerebrally manageable idea of a God who forms the apex of a world system, constructed by sovereign Western man. The research also focuses, in the second place, on a farewell towards recovering the ‘always greater God’, who hides himself, as it were behind a mask, in dazzling, impenetrable light. He reveals himself obliquely from the backside, as to Moses, only after he had passed. In the fullness of time, he revealed himself in the hiddenness of Jesus Christ, culminating in the deformed humanity of a wretched criminal dying on a cross. This resurrected and exalted Crucified is now hidden in God. On the way to the final eschaton, he reveals himself in ‘the garb’ of his Spirit-energised Word and sacraments. Two examples of a tamed theism, possibly neglecting Divine hiddenness, are taken from our Afrikaans-reformed ambience: Afrikaner nationalism, and the sporadic encouragement to erect signs of the kingdom of God in our world.

Contribution: This research, firstly, contributes to the diagnosis and discarding of a kind of distorted reformed theism that has ‘domesticated’ the inscrutable hiddenness of the living triune God (still so vital to the magisterial Reformers) through a post-Reformation process of recovered scholasticism. In some ways, this frequently blended into rationalism in such a way that it did not escape accommodation to post-Enlightenment bourgeois or civil theism. Bourgeois theism is currently collapsing rapidly in many Christian theologies and churches of the West. Secondly, it contributes to the quest of many – also reformed – Christians to arrive at a renewed confession and experience in the faith of truly biblical theism. This is theism of the Deus semper major, which gives due honour to the ineffable triune God as absconditus et revelatus. Lastly, it contributes to the self-searching of Afrikaans-reformed believers as to the presence, –only traces – of tamed theism in our nationalistic heritage, and in our rightly valued theology of the kingdom of God.


Keywords

Deus absconditus et revelatus; domesticated God-talk; reformed neglect; deus semper maior; bourgeois infectedness

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

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