Curiosity Confounded the Cat

Information about Stephen Charnock (Charnockian Cat):

“There were giants in literature in those days, and Stephen Charnock was not the least of the noble fraternity. Charnock may not have all the brilliancy of Bunyan, nor all the metaphysical acumen and subtle analysis of Howe, nor all the awful earnestness of Baxter; but he is not less argumentative, while he is more theological than any of them, and his theology, too, is more sound than that of some.” (William Symington, D.D.)

“Son of a London solicitor, he was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and in 1649 became a minister in Southwark. In 1650 he became a fellow of New College, Oxford and in 1652 received his M.A. 1655 he was appointed chaplain to Henry Cromwell, governor of Ireland, and won a reputation for preaching in Dublin. He returned to London in retirement, but from 1675 he ministered in Bishopgate Street Prebyterian Church, London as joint pastor with Thomas Watson. His sermons were published mostly after his death; they reflect the characteristic Puritan divine’s concern for central Gospel themes. His most important work was entitled Existence and Attributes of God.” (ccel.org)

A quote from Charnock’s, The Existence and Attributes of God:

“But what if the foreknowledge of God, and the liberty of the will, cannot be fully reconciled by man? Shall we therefore deny a perfection in God to support a liberty in ourselves? Shall we rather fasten ignorance upon God, and accuse him of blindness, to maintain our liberty? That God doth foreknow everything and yet that there is liberty in the rational creature, are both certain; but how fully to reconcile them, may surmount the understanding of man. Some truths the disciples were not capable of bearing in the days of Christ; and several truths our understandings cannot reach as long as the world doth last; yet, in the mean time, we must, on the one hand, take heed of conceiving God ignorant, and on the other hand, of imagining the creature necessitated; the one will render God imperfect, and the other will seem to render him unjust, in punishing man for that sin which he could not avoid, but was brought into by a fatal necessity.” (Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God)

Here is God punishing Sihon “for that sin which he could not avoid, but was brought into by a fatal necessity”:

“But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as [appeareth] this day.” (Deuteronomy 2:30)

Here is Charnock objecting to God being God:

“…the other will seem to render him unjust, in punishing man for that sin which he could not avoid, but was brought into by a fatal necessity.”

Or, as the Apostle Paul would phrase Charnock’s objection:

“Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” (Romans 9:19)

More from Charnock:

“God is sufficient to render a reason of his own proceedings, and clear up all at the day of judgment; it is a part of man’s curiosity since the fall, to be prying into God’s secrets, things too high for him; whereby he singes his own wings, and confounds his own understanding. It is a cursed affectation that runs in the blood of Adam’s posterity, to know as God, though our first father smarted and ruined his posterity in that attempt; the ways and knowledge of God are as much above our thoughts and conceptions as the heavens are above the earth (Isa. Iv. 9), and so sublime that we cannot comprehend them in their true and just greatness; his designs are so mysterious, and the ways of his conduct so profound, that it is not possible to dive into them.” (Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God)

Charnock’s hypocritical pseudo-piety and epistemological false humility in this area is commonplace among adherents of rebellious potsherd or tumultuous teapot Calvinism. God has spoken loud and clear while Charnock sticks rebellious fingers in both ears.

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