Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Process Theology and the "Hiddenness & Revelation of God"

Process Theology and the
"Hiddenness & Revelation of God"

by R.E. Slater

Deus absconditus (Latin: "hidden God") refers to the Christian theological concept of the fundamental unknowability of the essence of God. However, Martin Luther, laid out the accompanying position of Deus revelatus, (Latin: "God revealed") which affirms that the ultimate self-revelation of God lies in Jesus Christ as the image and very essence of the fullness of God as the second divine Person of the Trinity. That is, in the New Testament Jesus is revealed to be God come in the flesh. This Christian doctrine is known as the "Incarnation" of God in human form.

Though a lot of words have been written on this subject it is best to think of this event as God who is 100% present as Jesus; and Jesus, as 100% man. That is, Jesus was fully God and fully man. There was no dilution of God in human form nor was there any dilution of humanity as represented in Jesus as the "Second Adam" of creation per Paul (1 Corinthians 15.45-58, NASB'95).

That said, the question arises, "How can the hidden God of creation also be revealed in Christ." These counter-intuitive statements of divine hiddenness and divine revelation seem to be at odds with one another.

Historically, it was the particular focus of Luther’s work in the Heidelberg Theses of 1518, presented during the Heidelberg disputation of 1518. In the Christian tradition, the hidden God (Deus absconditus) is presented as revealed (Deus revelatus) through:

  • Jesus' life (referring to his incarnation),
  • Jesus' Ministry (referring to Jesus' baptism and his new Rabbinic teaching on God's love, mercy, compassion, and salvation),
  • Jesus' Passion (referring to Jesus' crucifixion), and

While also stating, without conflict, albeit paradoxically, that God, in God's essence, will always be fundamentally a mystery to God's creation.

In what way is God incomprehensible or unknowable to God's finite creation? 

As a matter of expression we are simply stating the obvious: "God is an ancient God. An immortal God. In these mystical referents alone a finite creation such as man cannot comprehend God." And when coupled with metaphysics, God's very Self - whether in essence or in attribute - is fully, inexpressive, impenetrable, inexplicable, incomprehensible, inscrutable, and so forth. God cannot be known unless God reveals God's Self.

Thus and thus, the finite cannot not, nor ever will be able, to grasp the infinite as a mortal, bounded and finite being. And yet, in Jesus Christ, God has revealed to us a mystery. That mystery is that God has revealed himself to us through Jesus Christ.

And what was this revelation? That God is a God of love who has a complete hatred for pretentious religious forms, laws, and dictates which bind us from fully knowing God - as was the case with traditional Old Testament Judaism  of Jesus' day which emphasized the works of the law over the spirit of the law. Jesus said, "By faith you come to God, and by works of love we show our faith" (Ephesians 2.8-10; James 2.18).

Now let's review the several items we have covered before imputing (to credit or ascribe) Whiteheadian process theology into the traditionalized statements of the Jesus church. For when we do, I think you'll be surprised by how dynamically relevant process theology can make traditionally apprised church positions about the personage of God as revealed to us through Scripture, Christ, his church past and present, and the testimony of believers.

Of Councils and Doctrines

  • The Heidelberg Disputation was held at the lecture hall of the Augustinian order on April 26, 1518.[1] It was here that Martin Luther, as a delegate for his order, began to have occasion to articulate his views. In the defense of his theses, which culminated in a contrast between divine love and human love,[2] Luther defended the doctrine of human depravity and the bondage of the will. Martin Bucer, the reformer of Strasbourg, heard Luther here and became an avid follower.[3] This disputation also led to Johann Eck's challenging Martin Luther to the Leipzig Debate.[4] - Wikipedia see here and here.
  • Deus absconditus (Latin: "hidden God") refers to the Christian theological concept of the fundamental unknowability of God's nature. The term originates from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, specifically the Book of Isaiah. “Truly you are a God who hides yourself, O God of Israel, a Savior” (Isaiah 45:15). This concept was particularly important to the theological thought of medieval Christian theologians Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, and Martin Luther. Today, deus abconditus in Christian theology is primarily associated with the theology of Martin Luther and later Protestant theologians. Luther revealed his views on deus abconditus in his theological treatise De Servo Arbitrio in 1525. But he had already hinted at this idea ten years earlier in his lectures on the Psalms and on Romans. The opposite of his Deus absconditus in Lutheran theology is the concept of Deus revelatus ("revealed God"). In the Kingdom of France, this concept was important to the Jansenist movement, which included Blaise Pascal and Jean Racine. French philosopher Lucien Goldman titled his 1964 book on Pascal and Racine ``The Hidden God: A Study of Tragic Vision in Pascal's Pensées and Racine's Tragedy.''
  • “Revelation” (lat. revelatio) is a translation of the Greek word apokalypsis, which means the removal of a veil so that something can be seen. Many religions appeal to purported divine revelations in order to explain and justify their characteristic beliefs about God, and revelation has usually been understood as an epistemic notion. Paradigmatically, it refers to alleged instances of divine speaking or special divine acts in history, although in a more general sense “revelation” can denote any means of divine self-disclosure, for example through nature. The topic of divine revelation has been a long-standing and central focus in theology, and philosophical discussions have often taken their cues from Christian theological debates. This entry will treat theological perspectives only in so far as they are relevant for philosophical questions about the purported nature and means of divine revelation and the justification of revelatory claims.

God's Divinity in Processual Terms

How then, might we approach God's divinity in processual terms, that is, when applying process theology to a formulaic, bifurcated, Westernized, neo-Platonic, cum Scholastic, cum Modernal indoctrination form of study? Especially since we now live in a meta-postmodern world society?

As we have stated, there is a religious philosophical question which may seem paradoxical at first but is essentially necessary when placed together with it's ancillary twin half:

When approaching "Deus absconditus" (the hiddenness of God) + "Deus revelatus" (the self-revelation of God) as separate, isolated divinity statements they will seem to each uniquely cancel out the other. And yet, each are necessarily essential descriptors to God's essence of being."

How can this be? Let me now apply process thinking into the mix...

First, think about each term separately and then place them together... why might this be an intriguing way to approach the religious philosophical concept of God's God-ness?

Think about this a second...
The idea of a hidden and a revealed aspect of God, deus absconditus and deus revelatus respectively, has historical roots in various religious traditions. It's often tied to the mystery and transcendence (that which is beyond us) associated with the divine. The interplay between the hidden and revealed aspects can be seen as essential for a deeper understanding of God's nature. Different philosophical and theological perspectives may offer diverse interpretations of this concept.

However let us not be content to stop here in the church's systematical restatements of God's nature or constitutive being.... What more might we say to the organic relational wholeness of God's hidden but revealed Self when using a newer philophical process theology than Christianity's typical Western Platonic/Hellenised formulations typically emphasizing transcendance over immance of the Divine?

By referring to Alfred North Whitehead's process philosophy and John Cobb's accompanying process theology as derivative, how might deus revelatus and deus absconditus be reinterpreted in a processual sense?

In Whitehead's Process Theology, the concepts of deus absconditus and deus revelatus could be reinterpreted as an "ongoing process of becoming".

Deus absconditus (Divine hiddenness) might be seen as the primordial nature of God that is not fully revealed in the present moment, and therefore existing beyond our immediate temporal experience of the Divine.

However, Deus revelatus could be understood as God's self-disclosure in the unfolding process of time and event, gradually revealing aspects of divine creativity and experience as creational and social events progress conscrencently (together +1 novel response).

This aligns with the idea of God dynamically participating in a continually evolving and adapting world. Moreover, when referring to John Cobb's Process Theology, influenced as a derivitive outcome to Whitehead's process philosophy, Cobb goes on to further explore the idea of God's constant relational involvement in the becoming of the universe as well as God's Self when interlinked together with God's creation (thus and thus speaking to God's dynamic and eternal immanency with creation).

In the context of Process Theology then, the relationship between deus absconditus and deus revelatus is always eternally dynamic and evolving.

Deus absconditus represents the hidden, transcendent potentialities of God that are not fully expressed in any single moment. Thus, the primordial nature of God contributes to the ongoing creativity of the universe (in technical terms, event +1 one additional concrecent moment which creates many multiple possible futures which collapse to one resulting processual event actuality).

Whereas Deus revelatus reflects on the continuous self-disclosure of God within the process of becoming. Thus, God's Self-revelation is not a static event but an unfolding, participatory engagement with the world and all that is in it, including all of the cosmos. As events unfold and entities interact, new aspects of God's nature are revealed, contributing to the ongoing narrative of the cosmos.

The process perspective thereby emphasizes that God is intimately involved in the world, influencing and being influenced by creation's evolving events. It invites us to perceive divinity not as a distant, unchanging entity, but as an active and relationally immanent, albeit compassionate, Divine force which is continually (re)shaping the ongoing processes of reality in an agency-based relationship btw God and creation.

As an aside, without Divine partnership, or a Divine cooperative with creation, resulting/evolving consequences would be wholly dependent on Divine rule = micromanagement rather than as it currently is as a Divine cooperative between all creational actors.

This interpretation aligns with the further idea that God's immanent presence is dynamically woven into the fabric of the universe, continuously revealing more of the divine nature through the unfolding of time as creation itself evolves.

This is quaintly summarized in the book in Exodus when Moses asks YHWH who God is, and YHWH ("the name which cannot be expressed") answers, "IAM who I AM." Translated into processual terms God is referring to God's Self as the "One who is, and is becoming"....

[As an anticlimax, process thought can also be seen as a similar, but quite dissimilar, oblique reference to Alaine Badiou's life long work of "Being and Event," but when tweeked processually under Whitehead, can be restated in terms of any relational (ontologic) event in the interplay between "Being and Becoming." Or more simply, "the metaphysical, ontological, and ethical states, of Being-ness which is always in the processually eternal state of Becoming-ness."]


Now these processual truths should place our souls in eternal repose, peace, and comfort of mind, body, heart and soul, when confronting all disquiet, anxiety or stressor, when prayerfully leaving these disruptors in our lives behind us in God's hands who will eternally, and lovingly, be a faithful and compassionate God to us.

As Paul well said,

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Go in peace brethren and rest in the Lord,

R.E. Slater
January 13, 2024

* * * * * * *

Deus absconditus (Christian theology)
Protestant reformer Martin Luther unfolded his views on the concepts of Deus absconditus and Deus revelatus in his theological treatise De Servo Arbitrio (1525)

Deus absconditus (Latin: "hidden God") refers to the Christian theological concept of the fundamental unknowability of the essence of God. The term is derived from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, specifically from the Book of Isaiah: "Truly, you are a God who hides himself, Oh God of Israel, the Savior" (Isaiah 45:15). This concept was particularly important for the theological thought of the medieval Christian theologians Thomas Aquinas,[1] Nicholas of Cusa,[2] and Martin Luther.[3]

Today, the Christian theological concept of Deus absconditus is primarily associated with the theology of Martin Luther and later Protestant theologians.[3] Luther unfolded his views on Deus absconditus in his theological treatise De Servo Arbitrio in 1525. But he had already hinted at this idea in his lectures on the Book of Psalms and in his lecture on the Epistle to the Romans ten years earlier. The opposite of Deus absconditus in Lutheran theology is the concept of Deus revelatus ("revealed God").[4]

In the Kingdom of France, the concept was important to the Jansenist movement, which included Blaise Pascal and Jean Racine. The French philosopher Lucien Goldmann would title a 1964 book on Pascal and Racine, The Hidden God: A Study of Tragic Vision in the Pensées of Pascal and the Tragedies of Racine.

See also


  1. ^ Weber, Max (1978). Runciman, Walter Garrison (ed.). Max Weber: Selections in TranslationCambridgeCambridge University Press. p. 220. ISBN 0-521-29268-9.
  2. ^ Cusanus, Nicolaus (1959). Wilpert, Paul (ed.). Opuscula I: De Deo abscondito, De quaerendo Deum, De filiatione Dei, De dato Patris luminum, Coniectura de ultimis diebus, De genesi. Nicolai de Cusa: Opera Omnia. Vol. IV. HamburgWest Germany: Meiner.
  3. Jump up to:a b Macquarrie, John (1983). "Deus absconditus". In Richardson, Alan; Bowden, John (eds.). The Westminster Dictionary of Christian TheologyLouisville, KentuckyWestminster John Knox Press. p. 155. ISBN 9780664227487.
  4. ^ E. Jüngel, The Doctrine of the Trinity: God’s Being is in Becoming. 19


  • Volker Leppin: Deus absconditus und Deus revelatus. Transformationen mittelalterlicher Theologie in der Gotteslehre von "De servo arbitrio"; in: Berliner Theologische Zeitschrift 22 (2005), S. 55–69; ISSN 0724-6137
  • Martin Luther: Vom unfreien Willen: dass der freie Wille nichts sei. Antwort D. Martin Luthers an Erasmus von Rotterdam; deutsche Übersetzung von De servo arbitrio, übersetzt von Bruno Jordahn, hrsg. v. Georg Merz; München 1983
  • Horst Beintker: Luthers Gotteserfahrung und Gottesanschauung; in: Leben und Werk Martin Luthers von 1526 bis 1546 – Festgabe zu seinem 500. Geburtstag, Band 1; Berlin 19852; S. 39–62

* * * * * * *

Deus revelatus (Christian theology)

Protestant reformer Martin Luther unfolded his views on the concepts of Deus absconditus and Deus revelatus in his theological treatise De Servo Arbitrio (1525)

Deus revelatus (Latin: "revealed God") refers to the Christian theological concept coined by Martin Luther which affirms that the ultimate self-revelation of God relies on his hiddenness. It is the particular focus of Luther’s work the Heidelberg Theses of 1518,[1] presented during the Heidelberg disputation of 1518. In Christian theology, God is presented as revealed or Deus revelatus through the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross. Debate of the term is found in the field of philosophy of religion, where it is contested among philosophers such as J. L. Schellenberg.[2] The term is usually distinguished from Luther's concept of Deus absconditus, which affirms the fundamental unknowability of the essence of God. However, Luther proposed that God is a revelation who uses the fog to obscure himself.[3] This distinction which permeates his theology has been the subject of wide interpretation, leading to controversy between theologians who believe the terms to be either antithetical or identical. These two conflicting strands of thought present the main problem when interpreting Luther’s doctrine of the Revealed God.[4] In recent years the term has been used to inform modern analysis of religious themes such as evolution.

The Revealed God

Christian Theology

The conception of Luther's Revealed God came about through his own personal struggles with grasping assurance of God's grace, which he confirmed by looking to the Cross of Christ. The concept of the incomprehensibility of God was first introduced by Luther in his Lectures on The Psalms.[4]  The theology of ‘deus revelatus’ originated to address the concern that if a God exists, he has not made his existence sufficiently clear.[5]  The term ‘Revealed God’ can be found in Luther’s works, Heidelberg Theses (1518) and On the Bondage of the Will (1525).  Luther’s theology was permeated by the theology of the cross, which led to the conception of both the Revealed God (deus revelatus) and the hidden God (deus absconditus).  In the Heidelberg Thesis, Luther asserts the view of ‘deus revelatus', a living God who suffered on a cross, and in On the Bondage of the Will Luther depicts the ‘deus absconditus’, a God of hidden majesty. The Christian concept of God depicts an absolute being who is righteous in himself, thereby becoming a threat to unrighteous humans. Therefore, He must become 'the God who seeks to be justified by the unrighteous in his words, a great vulnerability in which God stoops low in order to give sinners faith'.[3]

The concept of the Revealed God was later referred to by Paulson as 'The Preached God'.[3] The Revealed God is one being and three persons who 'actively wants to be found—in Christ, and him crucified—justified in his words'.[3] Luther thus proposed that God’s ultimate self revelation is in hiddenness, ‘namely, in weakness, in folly, in the incarnation and on the cross’.[1]  The divine majesty and glory of God is ‘shame and humiliation’ as he ‘brings life by means of death, whose suffering leads to resurrection’, thus there becomes a paradox whereby God is hidden in His self-revelation.[1]  God is hidden ‘in the suffering, humility and shame of the cross’ and ones suffering on Earth, however through faith sinners can recognise the God of love and mercy revealed in Christ.[6] Such a revelation which leads to justification nevertheless requires a preacher, thus 'The Holy Spirit sends such preachers so that grace is not so deeply hidden that we never find Christ hidden in the repulsive cross'.[3] Because of this, Luther’s theology states that any individual outside of a Christian community of faith do not experience his self-revelation and do not know his attitude towards them.[1]

Luther believed that the visible aspects of God through his hiding were the only sufficient explanation of God.  Therefore, Luther stated it was imperative that theologians focus on the cross to ‘see God as God wants to be seen’.[1] ‘Those who seek to know the invisible things of God, namely, God's glory, majesty, wisdom, and justice, through the wisdom of natural revelation are chastised as theologians of glory by Luther’.[1]

The concept connects to free will within Christian theology as it leads to the belief that ‘God must remain hidden […] failing to do so would lead to a loss of morally significant freedom on the part of creatures’.[5]

In the Bible

Luther’s conception of the Revealed God was derived from specific scripture in the Christian bible which detail how only through Christ does God choose to be revealed.  Passages of significance include John 14:8-9, ‘8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?’. 

Further passages of importance


  • Exod 33:18-23
  • Rom 1:19-25
  • 1 Cor 1:17-31
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:4

Philosophy of religion

The Revealed God contributes to debate in Philosophy of Religion whereby philosophers such as J. L. Schellenberg have used it to support the view of atheism.[5]

Schellenberg’s line of argument attempts to disprove the Judeo-Christian God by stating that were there a perfectly loving God, He would adequately reveal Himself to allow every person to attain personal relationship with Him.  However, since ‘there are capable, inculpable non-believers […] there is no perfectly loving God’.[5]  

Schellenberg’s Argument:

  1. If there is a God, he is perfectly loving
  2. If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur
  3. Reasonable nonbelief does occur
  4. No perfectly loving God exists
  5. There is no God

Similar: 'The Hidden God'

A similar Lutheran concept is that of the Hidden God, a deity whose grace is hidden, which is often considered to be interconnected to the Revealed God.  Luther’s depiction of ‘deus absconditus’ can be found in his work Bondage of the Will (De servo arbitrio). Luther’s concept asserts that the first instance of hiding in the Christian Bible occurred in the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve sought to hide from God.[7] Following this instance, God has remained hidden in the sense that his will and counsels remain unknown to any except him.

There are two contrasting views of the implications of Luther's depiction of a Hidden God:[3]

  1. His hiddenness is the subjective limit of human knowledge.
  2. God is in essence mercy, so acts that appear evil can be attributed to the attribute of divine love.


A prevalent issue in theological scholarship is the relationship between the Revealed God and the Hidden God.  Controversy has arisen as to whether the ‘deus revelatus’ and ‘deus absconditus’ refer to two distinct strands of theology which only have the concept of hiddenness in common, or are identical in form.  It is claimed that according to his own writings, 'Luther never preached two or three gods or powers; he was not a Manichaean or anti-Trinitarian',[3] however a seeming paradox is contested. Gerrish forms two differing groups of theologians dependent on whether they believe the terms are antithetical or identical.  

Theologians who believe the terms are antithetical include Hendel, Theodosius Harnack, the two Ritschls, Reinhold Seeberg, Hirsch, Elert, and Holl.  Such theologians argue the dualistic nature of the terms and state that the two differing views of God they produce cannot be reconciled.  Hendel states ‘Luther warns that the theologian and believer must distinguish between the God preached, or revealed, and the God hidden, "that is, between the Word of God and God himself”’.[1]  Harnack’s work was considered to be a rediscovering of the concept of the Hidden and Revealed God whereby ‘the notion of hiddenness expresses a double relation of God to the world: outside of Christ he is the free, all-working, majestic God of the Law; in Christ he is the gracious Redeemer who has bound himself to his Word and Sacraments’.[4] This position was also held by Althaus who stated that through his conception of the Revealed and Hidden God, Luther divided God; 'God, according to His secret will, to a great extent disagrees with His Word offering grace to all men'.[8]

Theologians who believe the terms are identical are Kattenbusch and Erich Seeberg.  The theologians argue that a single event of revelation led people through faith to see the Revealed God, and through simply sense-perception see the Hidden God.  Kattenbusch perpetuated the standpoint of the two terms as identical, asserting that ‘God hides himself in his revelation, so that revelation and hiddenness are not opposed, but coincide’.[4]

Modern Theological Application

Luther’s theology has remained relevant in a multitude of modern theological debates such as evolutionary debate.  

Evolutionary Debate

Theologian Charlene Burns has examined meaning of violent evolution with regards to Christian theology.  Scientific discoveries continue to uncover violence as a marker of the origin of the world, from the ‘movement of fault lines in the earth to the extinction of species’.[9] Burns uses a phenomenological approach to discuss the violence which is inherent to evolution.[9]  Burns states that ‘God is revealed not in the suffering of Christ on the cross, per se, but in what that suffering stimulates’, and states that evolution has led to humanity becoming ‘destroyers’.[9]  Burns concludes by asserting that the idea of God being revealed through the suffering of Christ exemplifies the altruistic nature of God, which humanity is called to emulate in its current advanced stage of evolution.

See also


  1. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Hendel, Kurt K. (August 2008). "'No salvation outside the church' in light of Luther's dialectic of the hidden and revealed God". Currents in Theology and Mission35 (4): 248–258. Gale A182929962.
  2. ^ Schellenberg, J. L. (1993). Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-2792-3.[page needed]
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Paulson, Steven (2014). "Luther's Doctrine of God". In Kolb, Robert; Dingel, Irene; Batka, L'ubomír (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Martin Luther's Theologydoi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199604708.013.034ISBN 978-0-19-960470-8.
  4. Jump up to:a b c d Gerrish, B. A. (1973). "'To the Unknown God': Luther and Calvin on the Hiddenness of God"The Journal of Religion53 (3): 263–292. doi:10.1086/486347JSTOR 1202133S2CID 170113518.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d Howard-Snyder, Daniel; Moser (2002). Divine Hiddenness: New Essays. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521006101.
  6. ^ Stopa, Sasja Emilie Mathiasen (1 November 2018). "'Seeking Refuge in God against God': The Hidden God in Lutheran Theology and the Postmodern Weakening of God"Open Theology4 (1): 658–674. doi:10.1515/opth-2018-0049S2CID 172127916.
  7. ^ Paulson, Steven (1 October 1999). "Luther on the Hidden God"Word & World19 (4): 363–371.
  8. ^ Althaus, Paul (1966). The Theology of Martin Luther. Fortress Press. ISBN 0800618556.[page needed]
  9. Jump up to:a b c Burns, Charlene P. E. (November 2006). "Honesty about God: Theological reflections on violence in an evolutionary universe". Theology and Science4 (3): 279–290. doi:10.1080/14746700600953389S2CID 144946281.