Knowing God

The following is a summary of the first parallel session of National Reformed Evangelical Convention in Kinasih, 27-30 Dec 2005. The speaker for the session was Rev. Sutjipto Subeno. The session was delivered in Indonesian. Any deviation in translation and summarizing is the sole responsibility of me. Comments and additions from those who participate in the session are most welcome, especially since this summary is very minimal.

One of the core of Reformed theology is the sovereignty of God. But what sovereignty of God? John Calvin begins with a basic question, “If we live, how do we begin and where do we go?” Augustine says that knowing God is a route to knowing self. How do we build our knowledge, for knowledge is a serious aspect today? In postmodern era, man is overloaded with various kinds of knowledge and consequently gets confused. This confusion also enters into Christianity. Knowledge overload does not give us the ability to distinguish and discern what are offered us. We need to know how to find true knowledge.

Calvin asserts the sovereignty of God. True Christian faith does not mean that it does not have an integral system, but even so, it is not dead. Calvin starts everything from God. Objective rationalism will have problem with a God who says, “I am who I am.” Nevertheless for Moses this answer is sufficient because this is not rationally informative; this is about knowing who he is and who God is. This is what is necessary in Christian theology. We need to see it from a balanced perspective.

The first key to knowing God is being humble, acknowledging God’s sovereignty. Secondly, we realise that we stand before a personal God. Thirdly, we know Him as an absolute being. Fourthly, knowing God is not a casual knowing but an acurate knowing. Calvin says that knowing God is the basis of our epistemology and ethics. Fifthly, knowing historically and grammatically. If we know God then we can say with conviction that He is final. Sixthly, we do not stop at history but relate it with eternity. Knowing God is not just knowing bits and pieces that are not related to eternity. What is in eternity is being revealed in history. Seventhly, knowing gives us guarantee that cannot be shaken. Whatever in the world can be swept away. We can have a lot of ideas but they might not necessarily happen, because we are limited. Not so with God. God is God forever–I am who I am. God’s power is sufficient to bring all things to completion. It is sufficient so that we do not need to rely ourselves on any other.


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