History Bad King David
posted by January 30 at 13:43 PMon
This man is Pierre Bayle:
He lived a long time ago (November 18, 1647 – December 28, 1706), he was French, a Calvinist, and author of Historical and Critical Dictionary, a book that was enormously popular in his day. Bayle is now forgotten. Little thought is spent on his turbulent life and the great influence his writings had on the enlightenment. Why dig up this forgotten thinker now? For the eyes and edification of forgetful American Christians.
Central to all of Bayle’s brilliant ideas and opinions was his position that reason could not explain God. Human reason was too limited to comprehend Him and so faith in Him could not be reasoned. Like God’s ways, faith had to be mysterious. Bayle’s famous illustration of this point was made in the Historical and Critical Dictionary. It concerned King David, who, Bayle explained, was a criminal, a murderer, a rapist, an adulterer, and adored by God. Evil King David was chosen, elected, loved by the King of Kings. To human reason, this is clearly unacceptable; it wants to judge King David as a criminal and have him punished. And so, Bayle concluded, human reason is not compatible with His mysterious reasoning. If this were not the case, then God would have punished the bad man and rewarded a good one. Because humans have no idea what God is really up to, Bayle advocated humility and tolerance in all areas of life. To be an intolerant Christian, to force your beliefs on other people, was to act as if you knew God’s mind, grace, and plan. But the only thing you, as a Christian, as a human, could know about God is simply and finally your belief in God. That’s it. To reason Him to yourself and to others is to be arrogant, overconfident.
Bayle died in tolerant Rotterdam.