In every theology. the decisive thing is always the doctrine of God I told you this with regard to Luther, to Augustine. etc. For Calvin the central doctrine of Christianity is the doctrine of the majesty of God. The attitude in which God is known as an existential attitude, more than in any other of the Reformers – -at least in formula, even more than in Luther. For Calvin human misery and Divine majesty are correlated. Only out of the human misery can we understand the divine majesty and only in the light of the Divine majesty can we understand the human misery.

Calvin applies to God a word which has been rediscovered by Rudolf Otto numen, the numinous. God is a numen for him, He is unapproachable, horrifying. and at the same time fascinating. He speaks of “this sacred numinous nature,” when he speaks of God. This is distinguished from all idols, from every polytheistic God. It is transcended in a radical way. so radically that you cannot speak directly of God. And here he has a very interesting theory of Christian symbolism. The symbols are significations of His incomprehensible essence. Symbols have to be momentary, disappearing, self-negating, He says they are not the matter itself. I think this self- negating is the decisive characteristic of every symbol with respect to God, because if they are taken literally, if they are not self-negating, then they produce idols. This is Calvin and not a mystical theology such as in Pseudo-Dionysius, who says this. So when you speak of symbolism when referring to God, you can refer to a man who is certainly beyond suspicion of being less than orthodox. namely, to Calvin.

The truth of a symbol drives it beyond itself. “The best contemplation of the Divine Being is when the mind is transported beyond itself with admiration.” The doctrine of God can never be theoretical-contemplative; it must always be existential, by participation. The famous phrase by Karl Barth, which is taken from a Biblical text “God is in Heaven, and you are on earth” –is often said and explained by Calvin.