Bringing together a couple of recent themes, viz. the theater and alienation: Calvin in an uber-Brechtian synthesis gives an account of the latter which prevents us from seeing God’s glory in the former. It cannot be emphasized enough that the alienation that most needs to be dealt with is, as Calvin understood so well, the alienation of our minds due to sin, the only answer to which is the reconciliation of the cross. Whatever we may tell ourselves, nothing else will fix it. Though the cross seems absurd from the point of view of human reason (construed as reason bound over to sin, “wisdom” as actually foolishness), it is the wisdom of God for sinners. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 1:21:
He makes a concession when he calls the gospel the foolishness of preaching, having that appearance in the view of those foolish sages (μωροσόφοις) who, intoxicated with false confidence, 91 fear not to subject God’s sacred truth to their senseless criticism. And indeed in another point of view nothing is more absurd in the view of human reason than to hear that God has become mortal — that life has been subjected to death — that righteousness has been veiled under the appearance of sin — and that the source of blessing has been made subject to the curse, that by this means men might be redeemed from death, and become partakers of a blessed immortality — that they might obtain life — that, sin being destroyed, righteousness might reign — and that death and the curse might be swallowed up. We know, nevertheless, in the meantime, that the gospel is the hidden wisdom, (1 Corinthians 2:7,) which in its height surmounts the heavens, and at which angels themselves stand amazed. Here we have a most beautiful passage, from which we may see how great is the blindness of the human mind, which in the midst of light discerns nothing. For it is true, that this world is like a theater, in which the Lord presents to us a clear manifestation of his glory, and yet, notwithstanding that we have such a spectacle placed before our eyes, we are stone-blind, not because the manifestation is furnished obscurely, but because we are alienated in mind, (Colossians 1:21,)and for this matter we lack not merely inclination but ability. For notwithstanding that God shows himself openly, it is only with the eye of faith that we can behold him, save only that we receive a slight perception of his divinity, sufficient to render us inexcusable.