the requirement for theological reason

Assumed Audience: Theologically-orthodox Christians, or folks interested in things that theologically-orthodox Christians think.

This requirement — that God be feared and his name hallowed — is in many respects the requirement for theological reason. Reason can only be holy if it resists its own capacity for idolatry, its natural drift towards the profaning of God’s name by making common currency of the things of God. A holy theology, therefore, will be properly mistrustful of its own command of its subject-matter; modest; aware that much of what it says and thinks is dust. God’s holiness means that theology stands under the prohibition: Do not come near’ (Ex. 3.5). Accordingly, theology will be characterized less by fluency and authority, and much more by weakness, a sense of the inadequacy of its speeches to the high and holy matter to which it is called to bear testimony.

Nevertheless, this prohibition is not an absolute moment by which reason is entirely incapacitated. Alongside the prohibition stands with equal force an imperious command to speak: Who has made man’s mouth? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak’ (Ex. 4.11 – 12). The command is also a promise — that God will make holy reason capable of that of which sin makes it incapable; that because the speeches of reason are in the hands of God, they may also serve in the indication of the gospel’s truth. Idolatry is reproved, not by silence, but by speeches that set forth what God has taught. And in such speeches, holy reason gives voice to the fear of God.

 — John Webster, Holiness, pp. 26 – 27