Edward Stillingfleet was a British theologian and scholar, considered an outstanding preacher as well as a strong polemical writer defending Protestantism. In his work Origines Sacrae he argues for the truth of Scripture in history. What he published in 1680 rings true for us today. Must the extent of God’s omnipotent power “pass the scrutiny of our faculties, before it obtains a place for Divine revelation?” Stillingfleet argues,
“Secondly, to commensurate the perfections of God with the narrow capacity of the human intellect; which is contrary to the natural idea of God; and to the manner whereby we take up our conceptions of God; for the idea of God doth suppose incomprehensibility to belong to his nature; and the manner whereby we form our conceptions of God, is by taking away all the imperfections we find in ourselves, from the conception we form of a being absolutely perfect, and by adding infinity to all the perfections we find in our own natures. Now this method of proceeding doth necessarily imply a vast distance and disproportion between a finite and infinite understanding. And if the understanding of God be infinite, why may not he discover such things to us, which our shallow apprehensions cannot reach unto? what ground or evidence of reason can we have that an infinite wisdom and understanding, when it undertakes to discover maters of the highest nature and concernment of the world, should be able to deliver nothing but what comes within the compass of our imperfect and narrow intellects? And that it should not be sufficient that the matters revealed do none of them contradict the prime results or common notions of mankind (which none of them do) but that every particular mode and circumstance, as to the existence of God, or the extent of his omnipotent power, must pass the scrutiny of our faculties, before it obtains a place for a Divine revelation?”
Has the Church come to place regarding the Scriptures that because the promises of God can’t be classified, categorized, or easily referenced, that after the “scrutiny of our faculties” it concludes that what God said just couldn’t happen, an indictment against the “narrow capacity of the human intellect” when contemplating divine matters?
Edward Stillingfleet (1635–1699), Origines Sacrae, or a Rational Account of the Grounds of Christian Faith, as to the Truth and Divine Authority of the Scriptures, and matters contained therein (London: printed by M.W. for Henry Mortlock at the Phoenix in St. Paul’s Church-yard, and at the White Hart in Westminster Hall, 1680), 234-235