Monday, April 7, 2014

Our Incomprehensible Creator

This last Sunday I quoted from the book On the Trinity by the early church father Novatian (c. 200-258). The passage discusses the inability of we finite beings to either comprehend or explain God fully. Here is the quotation in full - this is an updated translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5:
Therefore, the mind of man cannot fully comprehend God in His being and nature, nor can our tongues adequately express the wonder of His majesty. For when conceiving and speaking of His majesty, all eloquence is mute and all mind impoverished. For He is greater than mind itself; nor can it be conceived how great He is, seeing that if it could, then He would be smaller than the human mind that conceived Him. He is greater, moreover, than all speech, nor can He be fully declared; for if He could, then He would be less than the speech which encompassed and contained Him. For whatever can be thought concerning Him must be less than Himself; and whatever can be declared must be less than Himself …For if the keenness of our eyes grows dull on looking at the sun, so that the brightness of the rays prevents us from gazing upon the orb itself, the keenness of our mental perception suffers the same thing in all our thinking about God, and in proportion as we give our endeavors more directly to consider God, so much the more the mind itself is blinded by the light of its own thought. What could you possibly say then that would be worthy of Him? He is more sublime than all sublimity, higher than all heights, deeper than all depth, clearer than all light, brighter than all brilliance, more splendid than all splendor, stronger than all strength, mightier than all might, more beautiful than all beauty, truer than all truth, more enduring than all endurance, greater than all majesty, more powerful than all power, richer than all riches, wiser than all wisdom, kinder than all kindness, better than all goodness, juster than all justice, more merciful than all mercy. Every kind of virtue must of necessity be less than He, who is the God and source of all virtue.