Welcome. My name is Laurence. From 2009–2017 I was a PhD student in sacred theology at Calvin Seminary. The meditations, links, papers, quotes, and reviews I post here were from this period of studies and teaching in two broad areas: the Reformed catholic faith and Christian engagement with Islam. I also shared the occasional sermon, status update, and autobiographical bit. (See “Starting Afresh.”)


The name de Deo points to the heart of sacred doctrine: the locus de Deo. Thomas Aquinas summarizes this classical teaching well:

But sacred doctrine is chiefly concerned with God.1

And again:

. . . the chief aim of sacred doctrine is to teach the knowledge of God, not only as He is in Himself, but also as He is the beginning of things and their last end, and especially of rational creatures. . . .2

The Protestant doctors in the period of Reformed orthodoxy upheld this perennial wisdom concerning the locus de Deo. For instance, Francis Turretin (1623–1687) writes concerning the object of sacred doctrine that:

the more common and true opinion is that of those who refer it to God and divine things. . . . Thus that all things are discussed in theology either because they deal with God himself or have a relation (schesin) to him as the first principle and ultimate end.3

Additionally, the Leiden Synopsis exclaims regarding the role of the locus de Deo in “most-sacred theology” that:

God is treated not only as the principle upon which it is constructed and the source of our knowledge of it but also as the subject and the foremost, primary (primus ac primarius) locus of Theology from which all the others flow forth, by which they are held together, and to which they should be directed.4

In the modern period, Herman Bavinck (1854–1921), perhaps one of the last of the Reformed doctors who operated within the tradition of Reformed orthodoxy, expresses this same commitment in the introduction to his treatment of the doctrine of God:

In truth, the knowledge that God has revealed of himself in nature and Scripture far surpasses human imagination and understanding. In that sense it is all mystery with which the science of dogmatics is concerned, for it does not deal with finite creatures, but from beginning to end looks past all creatures and focuses on the eternal and infinite One himself. From the very start of its labors, it faces the incomprehensible One. From him it derives its inception, for from him are all things. But also in the remaining loci, when it turns its attention to creatures, it views them only in relation to God as they exist from him and through him and for him [Rom. 11:36]. So then, the knowledge of God is the only dogma, the exclusive content, of the entire field of dogmatics. All the doctrines treated in dogmatics—whether they concern the universe, humanity, Christ, and so forth—are but the explication of the one central dogma of the knowledge of God. All things are considered in light of God, subsumed under him, traced back to him as the starting point. Dogmatics is always called upon to ponder and describe God and God alone, whose glory is in creation and re-creation, in nature and grace, in the world and in the church. It is the knowledge of him alone that dogmatics must put on display.5

I dig the classical dictum concerning theology that flows out of this perennial teaching: theology is taught by God, teaches God, and leads to God. Hence my writing here will be at its best when it is aimed at this great end rather than the lesser ends that so often overwhelm discourse concerning God whether of the academic, ecclesiastical, or armchair variety. Further, with regard to what method is most fitting for pursuing this end, I find compelling wisdom in the Dominican dictum for a humble and balanced pursuit of truth: never deny, rarely affirm, always distinguish. Though the blog is a weak and ephemeral medium, and though its author is not mighty either in intellectual or spiritual endowments, he desires nonetheless that all who visit be welcomed in some small way deeper into the glorifying and enjoying of God through considering all things in God and God in all things.

  1. Sacra autem doctrina est principaliter de Deo. Aquinas, ST 1.1.4 sed contra.  
  2.  Quia igitur principalis intentio huius sacrae doctrinae est Dei cognitionem tradere, et non solum secundum quod in se est, sed etiam secundum quod est principium rerum et finis earum, et specialiter rationalis creaturae. Aquinas, ST 1.2 div. text.  
  3. Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1992) I.vi.i.  
  4. Synopsis of a Purer Theology: Latin Text and English Translation, vol. 1, Disputations 1–23, ed. Dolf te Velde, trans. Riemer A. Faber (Leiden: Brill, 2015) 6.1 (p. 151); Latin original online: Synopsis purioris theologiae, 6.1 
  5. Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, God and Creation, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 29 (paragraph break added).