Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sensus Divinitatis

In the April 2 issue of The New Yorker, John Updike reviewed Walter Isaacson's new biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe. Einstein often referred to God in his writings and statements, but he was not conventionally religious. As a child, he drew the conclusion that "something deeply hidden had to be behind things." This perception prompted him to search all of his life for a unified field theory, or the "theory of everything." He did not succeed, bewildered by the incredible strangeness of quantum theory and mechanics.

What Einstein intuitively grasped as a child, that there is something hidden behind all things, he called der Alte, "the Old One." What is truly sad is that his thoughts about God never led him to believe in God as a personal being, with whom he could have a personal relationship. Einstein sensed God, but never loved him. Theologians call this universal apprehension of the existence of God sensus divinitatis (the sense of the divine). John Calvin wrote, "That there exists in the human mind and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead, the memory of which he constantly enlarges, that all to a man being aware that there is a God, and that he is their Maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship him nor consecrate their lives to his service" (Institutes 1:3).

The proof of this sense of the divine is that some form of worship is found in every culture throughout all of history. Therefore, man is without excuse when he denies the existence of God. The knowledge of God is also found in nature, as the apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Like Einstein, however, this sense of God's existence is insufficient for salvation. On its own, the sensus divinitatus conveys only knowledge of God's existence, which Scripture tells us even demons possess (James 2:19). What Einstein lacked was communion with God in Christ, which is a wholehearted trust that Jesus died for me, loves me, and presently interecedes for me before the throne of heaven. This faith comes to us only by revelation in Holy Scripture, illuminated in the mind and heart by the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 2:14-15). A man may say he is an atheist, but his heart convicts him otherwise. On judgment day we cannot plead ignorance of God. On judgment day, we can only plead the merits of our cruficied Lord.


Post a Comment

<< Home