God without Quotation Marks

It can be easy for us who are familiar with Christian settings (churches, seminaries, Christian schools, Christian homes) to talk about a God with quotation marks. What I mean by that is it can become natural for us to talk about God as if He is a text book concept. We like to conjecture about what "God" is like, what He does or does not do, and what are his technical attributes. With light hearts and impressive intellects we speculate and calculate His inner mysteries. It can be fun and it is sure to be safe.

But is it wrong? Dr. Lloyd-Jones says the following:
To discuss the being of God in a causal manner, lounging in an armchair, smoking a pipe or a cigarette or a cigar, is to me something that we should never allow, because God as I say, is not a kind of philosophic X or a concept. We believe in the almighty, the glorious, the living God; and whatever may be true of others we must never put ourselves, or allow ourselves to be put into a position in which we are debating about God as if He were but a philosophical proposition.

To Lloyd-Jones, God is not "God." He is not some hypothetical, abstract being. God is alive. He is ruling and reigning, and He is at work today with frightening power. This is not someone whose existence we argue for or whose claims we consider in passing; this is someone before whom mankind crumbles, who demands righteousness from souls, and who consumes in holy wrath.
Timothy George speaks further on this idea from the life of Martin Luther:
For Luther "God" can never be placed in quotation marks. The great sin of scholastic theology was precisely the attempt to make of God an ordering concept, the First Principle, or even Necessary Being. Such a procedure placed God at a distance, made God the object of neutral inquiry, and thus exempted the human from deciding for or against God. But the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not a God we can discuss, or argue about, a God whose existence can be decided in the cool objectivity of a graduate seminar. The living God of the Bible is the God who meets us in judgment and mercy, the God who damns us and saves us. Coram Deo means that while we are always at God's disposal, God is never at ours. 'To believe in such a God,' Luther said, "is to go down on your knees."

God is never at our disposal. He is not a tame lion. God as revealed through both Old and New Testaments is real, frightfully real. The only proper response before Him is to go down on our knees.

Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. Preaching For Preachers. Zondervan 40th anniversary addition. Jan 28, 2012 Kindle Edition. (Location 805)

George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers. B&H Academic. Kindle Edition (Location 1237)


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