The main purpose of my thesis is a comparative study of the theme 'God hidden and
revealed' in Luther and Calvin, with a focus on the relation between the hidden God and the
One of the serious issues debated in theological scholarship is the relation between the
hidden God and revealed God. Some say the relation is antithetical, arguing from the
apparently dualistic and irreconcilable aspects such as the arbitrariness of God and God as
love. Some say that it is identical, seeing that in a single event of revelation, the eye of faith
discerns the Deus revelatus, where sense-perception can only find the Deus absconditus.
While there have been many diverse critical views surrounding the issue of Luther's God
hidden and revealed, not much attention has been given to Calvin's doctrine of the hiddenness
of God. Nor has a comparison been made of the relation between the hidden God and
revealed God in Luther and Calvin in modern theological debate.
In this thesis, Luther's concept of the hidden God is put on the matrix of his central
theme of theology of the cross, a theme which runs through his whole theology. Luther's
hidden God in the theology of the cross is characterized as the God wearing the mask, who
works abscondita sub contrariis in relation to his creature.
Compared to Luther, however, this thesis shows that the concept of Deus absconditus is
not only as native to Calvin's theology as it is to Luther's, but also parallels Luther's in large
parts. If the mask is the trademark of Luther's hidden God, the idea of 'accommodation' can
be Calvin's trademark. The accommodating God speaks to us like a mother babbles to her
child, in baby talk. As Luther's God hides himself in masks to reveal himself, Calvin's God
accommodates himself to our human weakness and sinfulness to reveal himself.
Luther's ideas are deeply rooted in paradox. Much more so than Calvin, Luther
describes so sheer and serious a contradiction between God hidden and revealed as to threaten
the unity of God. At the same time, Luther never loses his strong view of unity of God.
Luther's view is 'unity in contradiction' in God hidden and revealed. The apparently
irreconcilable unity and contradiction in God hidden and revealed can be harmonized and
understood only in Divine paradox, which tells us that contradiction is just in the human eye,
not in God's eye.
While Luther is happier to live with ideas in a paradoxical tension, Calvin is more
enthusiastic to prove the unity of God, concentrating on shattering the idea of all
contradictory elements such as two different wills, driving the paradox into the theological
frame of his understanding of God. Calvin's conclusion is that God's will is one and simple
in spite of its diverse appearance to our perception.
Luther and Calvin both affirm that, though the hidden God and the revealed God seem to
be irreconcilable from the perspective of our limited reason, this is not so in God's sight.
Both emphasise that the hidden God of predestination is none other than the God revealed in
Christ, who approaches us with love and mercy. They stand on the firm ground of
Christological principle, where they find God's unity. Both insist that the best way to the
hidden God of predestination is to grab the revealed God in Christ. Both accept with humility
that the mystery of God must be the final source of understanding of God hidden and revealed.
Both use their doctrine of the hidden God as a vehicle to praise the greatness of God.