Deep Calls from the Shallows

Nietzsche said don’t stare too long into the abyss or you’ll find the abyss looking back at you.  Earlier I used this in reference to evil; here I use it of the things of God.

You can’t read much of Luther without finding him warning about the hidden God, the unrevealed God, the Deus Absconditus. This is the God who is not for us or with us.  This is the God who is so deep all men, all angels, all devils, and especially all rationalists drown.

Now Psalm 42:7 does say “Deep calleth unto deep.”  The Catholics, probably because of their Latin Vulgate, love that phrase in Latin: abyssus abyssum invocat. Stephen King, yes of horror writing fame, translates it literally, “Hell invokes hell” (Duma Key).  I don’t want to defend the Latin scholarship of King, but he knows a thing or two about staring into abysses too deep for man.

There are a whole host of deep things of God you can go wading into. The Reformed do it all the time, so do the Catholics. The Reformed says it’s not possible for the Man Jesus Christ to be bodily present in heaven and on earth. The Catholics say it is not possible for the Bread to still be in their Mass, so the Bread isn’t really; it just looks that way.  The Reformed say the finite brain of Jesus isn’t capable of containing all of anything, so the Man Jesus couldn’t be all knowing. The Catholics say it is not possible that a sinful woman could give birth to the Holy God, so Mary was sinless.  Her mother, Ann, conceived her without sin – that is the conception Catholics are referring to when they call one immaculate.

There are deep things with God alright. The deep things of God do resonate in our depths. After all, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in our hearts.  There’s no bottom to eternity.  That’s why that verse also says that God makes everything beautiful in its own time not ours.  Yes, there will come a time where even sadness, sickness, and death will be beautiful to us in Christ.

“Yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end,” is how that verse closes.  No one can plumb the depths of God, and thanks be to Him that none of us have to. The really, really deep things of God are found in fonts, chalices, and mouths.  Baptismal fonts aren’t deep but they contain a life giving water rich in grace.  Chalices are not deep either but they contain the Blood Jesus poured out on the cross in such copious amounts that it covered the world’s sins. Mouths aren’t deep but from them come Words of God able to cleanse a person of sins that have stained them down to the bone, even down to their very soul.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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