Everlasting Horizon: The Prophetic Office of Christ and the Mediation of the Wisdom of God
RPM, Volume 14, Number 43, October 21 to October 27, 2012

Everlasting Horizon

The Prophetic Office of Christ and the Mediation of the Wisdom of God

By Chad Gilbert


Christians are given a distinct perspective of knowledge and truth. We are daunted with the fact that God is so transcendent or beyond us, yet so very close and with us. Theology then can be a means by which our which our relationship can be strengthened, by us working out our theology. In working out theology, Willem Van Asselt has done the Christian a service in the retrieval of a hermeneutic method by which our epistemology is strengthened as believers. He has recovered a very old, but useful method in considering the meaning theology and the nature of knowledge. He notes that many grievances were (and are) voiced over the use of a scholastic of theology. It was believed to be indebted to timeless concepts and Aristotelian structures. 1The problem many held with philosophy with regard to the theological approach is "The error of the excessive use of philosophy confuses philosophy with theology, and philosophical opinions are then transformed into Christian doctrine" (emphasis added). 2Others have clarified this dilemma to a degree as I cannot fit here, but it is necessary to state philosophy and theology are contingent upon God's thought of them. 3

This paper will look at a specific historical development within systematic theology in regards to a hermeneutic/epistemological distinction presented in Reformed and Protestant theologies. This distinction is between archetypal (prime, ultimate) and ectypal (derivative, creaturely) 4 forms of knowledge. Other retrieval projects have noted this distinction is not wholly unknown or forgotten. 5The distinctions gleamed from the projects note that this method goes back even further to the Latin and Medieval fathers 6 in the retrieval of a relational epistemology, and 'cross' eyed hermeneutic. Our hermeneutics start from presuppositions that are innate to our reason. The spirit reveals to man what is in man (Job 32:8). Again, other, more astute thinkers have gone to great lengths to discuss the inbred notions of God to our minds to leave us inexcusable to the sin of not acknowledging Him as Lord and Creator. 7 Given that we are known to be inexcusable, we must also have the work and ability to know God in manner of salvation. Archetypal and ectypal distinctions are then the method with which I will analyze the prominence of Christ in our hermeneutic and epistemological structures. As part of creation, as the Incarnate Word, we see how Christ, with special attention to the prophetic office, "the most glorious and ineffable effect of divine wisdom" is our light by which we understand the world, people and God correctly. 8

Archetypal and Ectypal

The distinction of an archetypal and ectypal theology can seem superfluous at first glance. As we seek a relationship with God, should it not be a simple task of ascetics? Should we not just seek to sit and meditate on the Divine? Can I not just be with God? The rhetorical answer is no. However, we need to answer these questions with a proper response. When we do not think correctly, we will believe the wrong ideas and act according to false presumptions and be further from the truth than when we began. This distinction is important now, as it was important to our theological ancestors. Systematic theology of the last fifty or so years the distinction has been largely overlooked, until very recently 9. " [T]his limited interest derives from the presupposition that post-Reformation scholasticism was not much more than a rigid and inflexible complex of dogmas involving a regression to outdated medieval patterns of thought" 10. Certainly, when the method becomes the content we will see a reason to disengage from the surrounding structure. However, we need to know where to go lest we are tossed about like a man on the sea (James 1:6). Completely disregarding sound reason and effective ordering is detrimental to the defending of the faith, and the witness of the believer. This would be to completely let the guard down of our God-given intellect. Theology attests to the distinctive forms of theology because Scripture distinguishes man's and God's knowledge.

We see that there are clear distinctions of God's wisdom and man's knowledge throughout Old and New Testaments. Usually the latter quotes the former in the case of underscoring the importance of the matter (Isa 55:9; Ps 145:3; 1 Cor 2:9). The theological or scholastic preservation of this distinction of knowledge is cited in Fransciscus Junius' work De Theologia Vera. In it, Junius gives us the distinction and argument that archetypal and ectypal forms of knowledge are our concern in discussing the nature of theology. The archetypal is theology as God's own intrinsic knowledge of himself and his works. 11 His 'theological system' is essence of his wisdom. This 'Theology' is accommodated to us by his grace: condescension to speaking in written and uttered words. Therefore, even our epistemological consideration begins outside of our selves. It is different from man's reason or thought because it belongs alone to God. However, God has, through natural light or reason, given us a brief insight into the truth of his existence and power (Rom 1: 20). 12 I mention this in passing again to motivate the idea of theology as communicated; not merely assent, scientific knowledge or even construction by natural means. Moreover, the approach of Reformed Dogmatics was to highlight the use of philosophy or reason while proclaiming the deep truths of Scripture to both the clergy and the layperson. This usage of philosophy helps build our system on the important foundation of faith. Faith in a credible witness is the key to theology and knowing God. Faith credited opens the eyes and hearts of the person. However, in order to know God we need a mediating force to witness to His ultimate nature. Luther distinguished between theologia Gloria and theologia crucis (the basis for theologians like Flacius). Calvin viewed theology from the Eternal Word of God and revealed word 13 (a background for Owen's work). It is clear that the distinction in our tradition is important, but why? It emphasizes God's act of accommodation (ectypal) of his heavenly wisdom (archetypal) to the realm of the creature through a medium. Scripture discloses that God contains and maintains all knowledge and wisdom (Ps 139: 1-6; Ps 147:5; Rom 11:33). It also points to a day we can believe in where God will write on our hearts (Jer 31). Therefore, in our creaturely (ectypal) form of theology we need a mediating source of knowledge to give us the faith we need to order to have perfect, even weak faith in God. For this we rely on God and His wisdom, not our own understanding and strength.

Ectypal Forms

Our theology then is not about getting to God, it is more about Him coming to us. There is, our fathers argue, a theology that is accessible and very clearly mirrors that of God's own theology, since we are imago Dei. It is attested to in our confessions and systematic theology. Fransciscus Junius argues:

Ectypal theology considered either simply, as they say, or in relation to various kinds, is the wisdom of divine things given conceptual form by God, on the basis of the archetypal image of himself through the communication of Grace for his own glory. And so, indeed theology simply so called, is the entire Wisdom concerning divine things capable of being communicated to created things by [any] manner of communication. 14

Ectypal theology follows the pattern of God's knowledge, but it is a shadow of heavenly wisdom still. The epistemological concerns are the transference of the divine wisdom and the media in which this occurs. In getting from God to us there needs to be a courier. We have seen this through the work of the Old Testament prophets. Scripture is also prophetic since it holds the written words of the message relayed to the prophets and apostles. More clearly, we have seen the message delivered in full through the life of Christ. Christ's knowledge of God and His works then must be perfect, but it cannot be archetypal, because of the bounds of the incarnation (discussed below). So we see there are again distinctions within ectypal theology. The knowledge that Christ has is one of three distinctions in ectypes. The three distinctions are as follows: Union (Christ's own knowledge of God and His works), Revelation (pilgrim theology on earth) 15, Vision (beatified or saintly apprehension in heaven). Our apprehension of Christ's word and Christ as the Word of God incarnate relies on a relational understanding of knowledge. God has revealed to his church, or body, that in Christ is the wisdom of the Father. Revelation should not be taken lightly then, as it is Christ's principle method of dispensing knowledge. We rely on sound testimony and teaching derived from such a witness. Someday it will be Vision and directly apprehended in a manner we cannot understand now, but which we hope in and encourage belief in each other. Testimony is a crucial facet of belief formation as well as assurance. From reliable testimony, we see that there is a true word and a false word. There is wisdom and there is deceit. Deceit often will entice us and wisdom will confound us, but not lead us to despair (2 Cor 4:8b). A method that Owen developed in considering the strength of faith and development of wisdom is helpful with the task of theological investigation. Owen makes a threefold distinction of knowledge gained by: natural light (reason), 'things externally exposed' (evidence), and faith. 16 Faith for Owen is the most crucial faculty of mind and has transcendental perspective over our rational and empirical structures. Knowledge built out of faith comes from a credible testimony. It is not a mere synthesis of fact/observation and reason. It is a trust in something beyond and more valuable that knowledge or thought (reason). Faith is how we receive the varying structures of our theology. How we build and order our system of knowledge to teach others and ourselves depends on our reliance and relation to the foundation of our system. For Owen, and hopefully us as well, we will be building on "God's word and character especially as revealed in the incarnation proved a testimony of the highest quality". 17We have no other testimony or binding principle of knowledge than the life and mind of Christ. The incarnation highlights the majesty of God and his power over creation (the miracle of immaculate conception= the speeding up of the natural process). Moreover, in the life of the incarnation, for it was the whole life of Jesus, not only the birth that was the incarnation of the will of God rests our faith. The power with which Jesus spoke was not his own power, separate from the Father; it was the power of the Father. The incarnation shows His heart as well, that he wanted to be near us in a way that had been typified by the tents and temples of the Jewish people. It shows He wants to converse, as typified by the messengers as prophets of the OT. We have no better account God than in Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior. We have no greater testimony to Christ than the Scriptures. Therefore, it is important that we read the Scriptures in light of Christ, and that we hold those we esteem as teachers to that standard as well.

Christ: Archetype displayed in the Ectype

It will serve us well to look at Owen's warm and insightful conception as to the nature of Christ before discussing the specific office of Christ. Christ is the "foundation of the new creation… 'the Mystery of Godliness'. In the person of Christ "is not the effect… of the divine wisdom and power of God, but the essential wisdom and power of God himself". 18 Jesus was representative of the God of Creation in a way that no other human could have ever been. This mystery of incarnation compels us to reverence and solemnity. The power and wisdom of God evidenced in the person of Jesus is the glory of the Son, in the Father. 19 The very presence of Jesus points us to the creative and powerful mystery of Godliness. Christ has in him the wholeness of humanity and deity. The dignity of man is restored in him in relation to the Divine Being. Moreover, he now mediates from his typified offices perfectly. He sustains the three offices of prophet, priest and king perfectly to restore covenant bond with the people. He mediates with love and righteousness. The love of God did not leave us in alone in a fallen state. The presence of Jesus is important to our theology because we were not left to our own reason and judgments to learn and grown in knowledge and wisdom. "The fallen world was immediately handed over to the Son as the mediator for the purpose of atonement and redemption". 20 This is important from Bavinck because we need to be reminded how far we are, but how close God has come. Our intellectual state cannot be described apart from our sinfulness. To have full assurance of faith, to even have faith, restoration as well as teaching must come to us. There is no other way could this have been done than by the incarnation at the fullness of time, decreed by God in His infinite wisdom. 21 Christ's personal attributes are held together by the divine power (nevertheless mysteriously!) given through direct communion with God. His natural reason is perfect, his interpretation of human life accurate, and his faith unwavering. This is also what the Reformed Tradition argues is the accommodation of God. Here, Christ is seen as the body of knowledge revealing truth in a profound way. How Jesus uniquely displays the archetype in his being is noted by Vern Poythress: "The Word, the second person of the Trinity, is the archetypal Truth, the Truth of the Father's mind…he is still the word in his incarnation…in that accurate imaging of the Father, he also displays full truth". 22 There is something truly mysterious, yet deep going on here to be grasped. The ontological status of Christ illuminates to us the truth of God. In Jesus' existence, we are confronted with the Ancient of ancients in a profound and terrifying manner. This is God with us, Immanuel, the God of His people (Jer 31). It is not something we can reach on accord of our own strength and intellect as those who built Babel had faith in. Moreover, many will count it as not wisdom, but rather foolishness (1 Cor 1:18). 23 Our knowledge rests on "the relational and communicated form of ectypal theology… 'Our theology is most of all communicated theology through which we all draw on the revelation which God chose to give us in Jesus Christ'". 24 From the ontological status of Christ, his words have power and authority over that of men. It is not his words but the words given to him by the Father. Since Christ is the Word of God, he is established to reveal the will of God in words as Prophet.

As prophet, Christ is our foundation and fount of heavenly knowledge (Col 2:2-5) from where we receive the blessing of knowledge and wisdom. Our theology (varied and multi-authored) has embraced the importance of the keeping of the offices of Christ. 25 The prophet speaks, the priest sacrifices and the king reigns are the summation of the principle tasks of each office. Looking to the prophetic office more in depth it will help to take note of the scriptural account of this role. The prophet teaches the secret, hidden mysteries of God to His people (Col 2: 2-3; Eph 3:8-10). Because of our fallen nature, God chose Jesus as the revealer of all wisdom to the unwise. Set from everlasting, he alone has authority and power to speak God's Word. The prophet, as we mean of men who teach, then is the ectypal form of the foundational meaning from the archetypal office. Without Christ, there would be no prophets.

Prophets were largely concerned with the action of the people and offering a correcting vision to them. The prophets spoke with authority because the Lord dealt with them in dreams and visions and puts the words in their mouth (Num 12:6-8). In these verses, it is clear that Moses is a special case because God speaks to him as though 'mouth to mouth' (v 8). This special relationship is built on the foundation of faith (v 7) that Moses graciously receives from God. In Christ how much clearer is his knowledge of the will and work of God! His clarity comes from not just mouth-to-mouth communication but from his everlasting and united position in the Father (Jn 6:46). The theology of union (theologia unionis) referred to above" [is] the entire wisdom of divine things communicated to Christ the God-man, that is, as Word made flesh, according to his humanity". 26 The union is found mysteriously in the soul (body and mind) of Christ. There is no demonstrative (scientific) formula to locate the ultimate joining of the two. This gives is the foundation for mystery and belief for many, and frustration to others (Ps 118:21-23). However, we know that if we have a theology to build that Christ contains the blueprint and foundation for the work. The union is not conditional upon communication of attributes; the union is the decree of God itself. On the other hand, Christ must communicate to us. We also see that Christ's function in this office is twofold. As Wollebius states, this office ' is to instruct the elect in heavenly truth. The aspects of this office are the external proclamation of the divine counsels, and the internal enlightenment of the mind' 27. The elect are blessed by grace and as they hunger for righteousness and holiness. They are blessed more with wisdom, knowledge, and assurance as they ask for it. The source of our blessing of wisdom is from the prophetic office. In this office, Jesus removes the blindness from our hearts or understanding. 28 Owen in a discourse on the Prophetic office offers a clear reason for Christ's preeminence in the Prophetic office:

The foundation of Christ's prophetical office, as to his knowledge of the will of his father, which he was to reveal, doth not consist in his being "taken up into heaven"…but in that he was the "only begotten son of the Father", who eternally knew him and his whole will and mind and… revealed him and his mind according as it was appointed to him." 29

In this regard, we see that the nature of Christ's prophetic office is that he is given words to speak by the father; this is revelation to us, the wisdom that belongs to the person of Christ is shared in speaking to humans. His sinless mind has the uncorrupted system of pure communicated and related wisdom. It is not a vision or revelation. It is not something that is separate from his body (for it is in his person) and it is not something separately ontological. It is part of his essence as he is the essence of God's wisdom. Otherwise, this would seek to create too great a distinction of subject/object that is not present in Jesus words (Jn 10:37-38; 14:10-11; 17:11). 30 These passages highlight the clarity that Christ speaks of his oneness with the father, especially 17:11 where he states "… we are one". He is at one with God, therefore able to be our atonement. Christ did not come in to the world separated from flesh, he came as flesh, as someone we can know and could witness and testify. He is the wisdom of God expressed in human form. As the image of that wisdom he testifies to the One that sent him and that we could know Him. Therefore, this true doctrine we get expressly from Scripture. This Christ, mighty to speak truth, weak to die a death for all, and God to rise from the dead, is where we work from and our goal (Rom 8:31-39). The Prophetic office of Christ is the where the voice of God speaks to the people of love and salvation, clearly. Everlasting and eternal, the Son knows the father and displays, in glory the radiance of God to the people of God (Heb 1: 1-3).

The Pilgrim

Now I would like to turn to what this means for us as human. Having laid out a sufficient platform for our theology as founded in Christ, we can turn to the communion we have in Christ and what it means for us. There is no part of us which we can look to and discern who we really are or who God is. Calvin saw this hundreds of years ago when he formulated his first book in the institute to look into the knowledge of God first, then to self. Owen took the systematics a step further and considered Christ in his first (as we have it) body of work to lay the foundation before we look to our self or think we can apprehend God directly. 31 We look inside and see complexity, apprehend depth and curiosity and get rather lost at times. We look to God without Christ and are blinded by glory and shamed by our wickedness. We are unstable and frightened before the majesty of God. Our foundation must be something firm, everlasting that we can continually point others and ourselves too. Our foundation of knowledge of God then is faith in Christ. Our faith in Christ should be our hermeneutic perspective. Because so much of the Christian faith is incomprehensible, we are given the ability to commune and worship the living God. By reading Scripture, we learn of many attributes of God. We learn history and are able to see the order of which all Scripture is written (Lk 1:3). From this position, we have the advantage, as new creatures in communion with Christ, of reasoning correctly about God as Father, and more clearly understanding the revelation of Scripture. Theology is not writing new Scripture. Nor should it take the place of Scripture. Philosophically we may wander. Theology, attesting to Scripture and not seeking to supplant it, will lead us back. It does this not on its own, but because of the Spirit's grasp on the heart and the intellect. Ectype and archetype distinctions are not splitting hairs. For the pilgrim it is the difference between God and man. We see in our system, brought by Christ but still interpreted by man and taught to man, that we are not perfect and do not have perfect readings or actions. We still sin, however we do not hope in our self, but in him who is perfect. Man sees his waywardness and tries too often on his own. He makes an archetype for him to ascend to and worship. However, God has revealed and concealed the archetype in Jesus (1 Cor 1:30). Even in some sense, the archetype is hidden from the Son to further testify to the One Lord God (Mt 24:36). God has spoken through him to deliver us truth unshakable, peace everlasting and assurance of preservation through the trials and tribulations of this world. Christ is for all those who come as weak, unwise and empty handed who seek rest, knowledge and assurance.

Our theology should include deep and meaningful discussions of how to live and how to think. Hermeneutics give us the device to which we can understand others and know how to interact meaningfully. Our foundation in interpreting experience as well as the text will guide our knowledge (of God, our self and others), which will lead us to action. Theological hermeneutics does not have to be a scary discipline and left only to the ivory tower. It is not abstraction of concepts, it is discussion of our to live with others. Jesus gave us the greatest theological lesson and challenge with proclaiming love of God and love of neighbor as the greatest commandments. Moreover, the world will know, as tangible evidence of faith and testimony to God if we visibly love one another, in our words and actions (John 13:35). 32 We need simplified and correct discussions in our churches and homes to encourage each other (Col 3:16). This is the role of the church the mission of God's kingdom, 'that God's wisdom in Christ…shape the lives of the believers, both in communal lives and their witness to the world'. 33 We can seek to explain this wisdom theologically and must understand it is not comprehensible. We do not what Christ knows in his person because of our fallen state. What we are looking into is mysterious and wonderful. This is the mystery as faith and faith in the mystery of Christ. 34 A mysterious faith motivates systematic study and solicits worship of the One True God. 35 Through this mystery, the Spirit has grown institutions and the Lord has raised intellectual giants out of ordinary men. We, as humans have progressed rapidly over the last decades in science and technology, however our intellect has escaped us. The devotion with which Owen served his people and the devotion with which he served the Lord is something that we ascribe to super Christians and celebrity pastors. Even the pesticide man can obtain certain knowledge of the world scientifically. However, Christ opens the man's heart (this is love), the pesticide man will have a desire for knowledge and truth (this is love too). That knowledge lies at the feet of who saved him. Pilgrim theology then should seek most of all to serve Christ by conforming to his character of love, charity and patience. As this happens pilgrims and their 'ship', the church, may increase the knowledge of the body rightly administering counsel and sacraments. It points to a promise of the beatific vision. Our faith turned into sight and apprehension of the Lord in glory as we dwell in the new creation.

Beatified Vision

This particular ectypal form has been proven to be of use to consider one goal of the Christian life: Faith turned into Sight (1 Cor 13:12, cf 2 Cor 4:18). In our current state of 'seeing by faith' and living by hope we hold out hope in the prospect of seeing the Lord face to face (Revelation 22:4). The distinctions of theological 'visions' help us to understand the work of God. These hermeneutic devices give great insight into man's structures of knowledge and progression through life. Moreover, our reliance for understanding is in Christ, the wisdom of God on display, in the work of the incarnation itself as well as Christ's teachings. Our faith now will be turned in sight, where what we believe in will be turned into what we perceive (1 John 3:2). 36For now this vision belongs to the like of saints in heaven and the angels surrounding the throne of the Lord. This vision will not be a complete and comprehensive knowledge of the Heavenly Counsel. It will undoubtedly perceive the counsel, in flesh and action in recreation. This vision will be instrumental in the worship of the church during eternity!

Possible Objections and Responses

The theology of the Reformation (and Post Reformation Reformed thought) was meant to heighten an awareness not just of God's holiness and transcendence. It sought to show how he accommodated his knowledge to us. That is, how he relates to us. This theological model emphasizes how God communicates and how God acts in our sphere of existence. It could be argued that the distinctions discussed in the above paragraphs really split scholastic hairs over simple issues and do not drive anything but division between people. I would argue we do not need to argue over 'ectypal' and 'archetypal', in se or nostra theologia, or any formal distinction. However, people do like to argue, and they like to argue autonomously out of their own rational mind. The above portions then show where the Christian does not believe this to be the case. We cannot talk about the world without relating to it. It is evidence of itself that it exists. That it exists is separate from our being here. It is by chance then, and a very small chance, the world is here and is sustained by some power. We therefore need to know the creator to understand our self and our place here. God is holy and powerful to do all this. We are weak and sorry in our state. He is ultimate and we are shadows. The distinction even shows that Scripture is archetypal in design as revelation to men from God, where men are merely instruments. Where He appears we are transformed and then can form theology and thought based on Scripture. Our method of interpreting the bible will help us understand the life we are given is from God and that we are to live according to his will: in love and service to one another. His will, as displayed in the pages of Scripture and especially in the life and person of Christ, are our hermeneutic presuppositions along with belief in God as creator and redeemer. More basic is that we are like God in some aspects (Gen 2) and due to being fallen completely estranged from him and his presence (Gen 3). All seek some sort of wholeness, whether it is a collective human consciousness, a very subjective truth structure or hope in nothingness all together.

The manner in which I argued for the importance of the prophetic office may also be questioned in this essay. I hope it has not come across as saying that the Prophetic office is ultimate or primary over the offices of Priest and King. The three offices make up the possibility and reality of one mediator for man. The prophetic office simply attests to the truth of the other offices and the Truth as foundational in God alone. The underlying principle of division can be seen in varying views of Christ's nature and our position, intellectually and morally toward God. The prophetic office is the foundation for the wisdom the priestly action of sacrifice. It is the foundation for the wisdom of the King's righteous rule. They all three work together as the displayed truth of God.

Lastly, due to its nature of academic language, this essay could be criticized as abstract (overtly so) and speculative. It could be said to abstract the doctrine of God to a point where there is a 'radical separation of natural knowledge of God from the saving knowledge of God and, thus the possibility of knowing God apart from the knowledge of his grace and mercy'. Highlighting the distinction is not rending anything or anyone asunder. Careful consideration of the sources has led to an understanding that is both intellectual and practical. That is, from deep wells of the academic endeavors, there comes out clarity in how to think and how to live. These standards are not of my own or man's knowledge in general. They are from meditating and rightly dividing the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15b) as considered in sound teaching passed down through history. If anything the distinction retrieved coupled with Christ in his office of prophet allows for the learning of God's grace and mercy through the appearing of Jesus as priest and king also!


In this essay, I hoped to express the distinction of archetypal and ectypal theology as a method of understanding knowledge as relational. The goal is that our 'lenses' elucidated the condescending character of God to provide us with natural and supernatural methods of epistemological understanding. The 'lens' of our hermeneutics according to revelation, natural and scriptural, shows us to what lengths God has brought knowledge to our reason and senses. The 'lens' of Christ as prophet awakens us to faith and completes our humanity. These combined enable all of us to build the church and theology, as God desires. In looking in ourselves, we find want of remedy and rest. In Christ, we find peace and wisdom in all things. His knowledge of the Father is so inconceivable to us that we need him to teach us. Revelation should be seen as a special communication of truth. Sharing conversation with someone is as much about the presence as it is the meaning of the conversation. When God speaks, through Christ, in Scripture or in nature, it is revealing his presence and power in startling ways. In nature it is sheer power, in Christ it is love and in Scripture truth.

Through history there have also been varying arguments and degrees of the nature of knowledge of man, both philosophical and theological. In this essay, if a new insight is gained it is because of the historical heavy lifting of those in various times for various needs. Puritan, Pietist, Reformed, Dutch and Orthodox theologians of different stripes share the same creed: in Christ alone. The creed is that " understanding depends not on technical rules but on a relation to the divine, namely the communion with Christ. It is through him that 'we hold the scope and the argument of the entire Scripture in our hands'". In our weak theology is the possibility and actuality of the God-man of Christ. In this there is offered knowledge, understanding and love that we may partake in for the glory of God. This communion, we may find that Christ speaks to us by his Spirit through the Scripture by grace of the Father. In this Christ, we find the supreme revelation of the will and work of God: He is powerful and righteous, and He loves his children. Therefore, we know what to do and what to say by the light that shines on us in truth and love.


  • a Brakel, Wilhelmus. The Christian's Reasonable Service. Ligonier, Soli Deo Gloria, 1992.

  • Bavinck, Herman. John Bolt ed. Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic. 2008

  • Beardslee III, John W. Reformed Dogmatics: Seventeenth Century Reformed Theology through the writings of Wollebius, Voetius, and Turretin. Grand Rapids, Baker. 1965

  • Belgic Confession. Netherlands. 1561.

  • Billings, Todd, J. Union with Christ: Reframing and Ministry for the Church. Grand Rapids, Baker. 2011.

  • Calvin, John. John T. McNeill, ed. Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols. Philadelphia, Westminster. 1960.

  • Ebert IV, Daniel J. Wisdom Christology. Phillipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed. 2011

  • Frame, John M. Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. Philipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed. 1987.

  • Muller, Richard. Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy ca 1520 to ca 1725, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic. 2003.

  • Murray, Andrew and John Flavel. The Believer's Prophet, Priest, and King. Ada, Bethany House. 1989.

  • Owen, John. William Goold, ed. Works of John Owen, Vols. 1, 4, 11, 12. London, Banner of Truth. 1965

  • Poythress, Vern. In the Beginning was the Word. Wheaton, Crossway. 2009.

  • Rehnman, Sebastian. Divine Discourse: Theological Methodology of John Owen. Grand Rapids, Baker 2002

  • Van Asselt, Willem and Dekker, Eef. Reformation and Scholasticism: An Ecumenical Enterprise. Grand Rapids, 2001.

  • Van Asselt, Willem. The Fundamental Meaning of Theology: Archetypal and ectypal Theology in Seventeenth Century Reformed Thought. WTJ v. 64, 2006.

  • Zimmerman, Jens. Recovering Theological Hermeneutics: An Incarnational-Trinitarian Theory of Interpretation. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic. 2004.


    1Zimmerman, Jens. Recovering Theological Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids, Baker. 2004. 85.

    name=2>2 Rehnman, Sebastian. Divine Discourse: Theological Methodology of John Owen. Grand Rapids, Baker 2002. 115. Rehnman cites Turretin Institutio I.viii.2, I. ix.1, I xiii.1.

    3Frame, DKG, esp. pg 79-85.

    4 Poythress, Vern. In the Beginning was the Word. Wheaton, Crossway. 2009. 252.

    5The works of John Owen, Matthias Flacius, Fransciscus Junius and their predecessors John Calvin and Martin Luther all allude to a formulation of theology of humans as distinct from God’s own knowledge. For Owen, See Rehnman’s Divine Discourse. For Flacius, Zimmerman’s Recovering Theological Hermeneutics. For Junius, Van Asselt’s cited essay.

    6 Van Asselt, Willem. The Fundamental Meaning of Theology: Archetypal and ectypal Theology in Seventeenth Century Reformed Thought. WTJ v. 64, 321n14.

    7 Calvin in Book 1 of the Institutes discusses man’s innate knowledge of God as creator or maker. John Owen also discusses the issue in detail in Vol. 4 of his works.

    8Owen, John. Works of John Owen, Vol. 1. London, Banner of Truth. 1965, 94.

    9 Billings, J. Todd. Union with Christ. Grand Rapids, Baker. 2011 Rehnman, Sebastian. Divine Discourse: The Theological Methodology of John Owen. Grand Rapids, Baker. 2002. Both, like Van Asselt’s work are seeking retrieval of sound teaching that is consistent with Scriptural content and biblical reasoning, while progressing on to educate and edify in matters of faith and reasoning.

    10Van Asselt, Willem and Dekker, Eef. Reformation and Scholasticism: An Ecumenical Enterprise. Grand Rapids, 2001. 11.

    11Van Asselt. The Fundamental Meaning of Theology. 321.

    12 Owen, WJO, Vol. 4, chs. 1 & 2.

    13Van Asselt. The Fundamental Meaning of Theology. 324

    14 Junius, De Vera Theologia, v. from Muller, Richard. PRRD, 235.

    15Van Asselt, Willem. The Fundamental Meaning of Theology, 330.

    16Zimmerman, RTH, 90.

    17Ibid, 92.

    18Owen, WJO Vol. 1, 45.

    19 Owen, WJO Vol. 1, 47.

    20Bavinck, RD, 3, 365.

    21Owen, Ibid.

    22 Poythress, In the Beginning was the Word. 290.

    23Owen, Ibid.

    24Van Asselt. The Fundamental Meaning of Theology. 330.

    25Specifically, the Reformed tradition, in the likes Owen in Vol. 1 of his collected works. Muller in his Prolegomena, Wilhelmus a Brakel in vol. 1 of CRS.

    26Junius, De Vera Theologia, VI. Muller, PRRD, 249.

    27 Beardslee, III, John W ed. Reformed Dogmatics

    28 a Brakel, Wilhelmus. The Christian’s Reasonable Service. Ligonier, Soli Deo Gloria, 1992. 518.

    29Owen, John. The Works of John Owen, XII. Ed William H Goold. London, Banner of Truth Trust. 351.

    30Muller, PRRD, 249.

    31To be clear, Calvin does this as well; the historical set up however is nice to show our progression and the work of the Spirit in teaching.

    32 Zimmerman. RTH. 121.

    33 Ebert IV, Daniel J. Wisdom Christology. Phillipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed. 2011. 64.

    34 Belgic Confession, Article 22

    35Billings, Union with Christ. 76.

    36Van Asselt, Willem. The Fundamental Meaning of Theology. 330.

    37Van Asselt, Willem. Fundamental Meaning of Theology. 319.

    38Zimmerman, Jens. RTH, 84-5. Zimmerman quotes Matthias Flacius’ De Ratione Cognoscendi, 35).