Outline Turretin, Topic 3 (Doctrine God)

Part 1 Here.

First Question: The Existence of God

(Turretin goes through the standard pre-modern reasoning).

Third Question: The Unity of God

Turretin clarifies the question by saying God is one in the sense that there is nothing else like him.  It is a question of essential numerical unity.

Fifth Question: Can the Divine Attributes really be distinguished from the divine essence? We deny against the Socinians.

Definition: The divine attributes are the essential properties by which he makes himself known to us who are weak and those by which he is distinguished from creatures” (III.5.1). Attributes are not superadded to his essence. They are distinguished virtually and eminently (section 5ff). A virtual distinction is that which contains distinct effects

Seventh Question: The Simplicity of God: Is God most simple and free from all composition? We affirm against the Socinians.

Simple is used in two senses, either absolutely or relatively.  Absolute means not mixed with anything else. God is simple because he is not dependent.  If something is of composition, then it was composed by another (or depends on something else for its existence).

  1. Also proved from the nature of subsistence.   Persons and essence are not related as real component extremes from which a tertium quid may arise.  This would create a quaternity.
  2. Modes/subsistences only modify, they do not compose. Modes distinguish the persons but do not compose the essence.
  3. God’s relative attributes are attributes of relations, which is “to be to,” not “to be in.”

Tenth Question: The Eternity of God: Does God’s eternity exclude succession according to priority and posteriority? We affirm.

Def. = “The infinity of God in reference to duration is called eternity to which these three things are ascribed:

  1. Without beginning
  2. Without end
  3. Without succession. (experiencing past, present, future)

Proofs:

  1. His essence cannot admit succession.

Twelfth Question: Do all things fall under the knowledge of God, both singulars and future contingencies?

God’s intellect: the mode and object.  “The mode consists in his knowing all things perfectly, undividedly, distinctly and immutably:

  1. Perfectly: he knows all things by himself or by his essence, not by forms abstracted from things.
  2. Undividedly: He knows all things intuitively and noetically, not discursively.
  3. Distinctly:

The object of God’s knowledge is both himself and all things extrinsic to him whether possible or future (III.12.3). He knows both universal and singulars as to:

  1. Quality: good and bad
  2. Predication: universals and singulars.
  3. Time: past, present, and future.
  4. State: necessary and free or contingent.

Proof:  all things are naked and open to God (Heb. 4.13).  He knows hairs on our head. Etc.

The Real Issue: Does God Know Future Contingencies?

There are two ways a thing can be contingent: either it is produced by God (true by definition; all things contingent in this sense) or it depends on the prior causes of other contingent events.

Proof: “Lord, thou knowest all things” (John 21:17; 1 John 3:20).  Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world; God knows all his works from eternity.  All things are naked and open to his eyes (Hebrews 4). This includes future actions. God predicts future contingent things.

Things can happen necessarily as to the event (per the decree) and yet contingently as to the mode of production (section 23).

Thirteenth Question: Is there a Middle Knowledge in God between the Natural and the Free?  We deny.

God’s natural or simple knowledge: God’s knowledge of all things merely possible.  It is called indefinite. It is founded on God’s omnipotence

God’s knowledge of vision (Or free): Knowledge of future things.  Definite because fixed by his will.

Middle knowledge seeks to be about hypothetically possible things.

Statement of the question: all admit that God knows future contingencies. Is there a special decree concerning the certain futurition of this or that thing preceeds so that God may see things antecedently to such a decree. We deny.

Proofs: natural and free knowledge embraces all knowable things and entities are not be multiplied unnecessarily (sec. 9).  2) Things not true cannot be foreknown as true. 3) Such a knowledge posits a reason for predestination apart from God’s purpose and good pleasure (eudokian).

1 Sam. 23:11 no proof of MK. This is more of a revelation of “circumstances on the ground” than a hypothetical future contingency.

Fourteenth Question: The Will of God: Does God Will some things necessarily and others freely? We affirm.

There is a twofold necessity.  Absolute necessity, that which can’t be otherwise.  Hypothetical necessity, a necessity from a contingent source. There are two kinds of things willed: that which is willed to the ultimate end, and that which is willed in the relation of the means.  Therefore, we say:

“God wills himself necessarily, not only by a hypothetical necessity but also by an absolute necessity.”

Fifteenth Question: May the will be properly distinguished into the will of the decre and of precept, good purpose (eudokias) and good pleasure (euarestias), signified, secret, and revealed?  We affirm.

God’s will is simple but it may be apprehended as manifold.

  1. Decretive will: futurition and event of things; rule of God’s external acts.
  2. Preceptive will: that which we should do. It has a twofold object
  3. Will of eudokias (good purpose): that which seems good for the Father to reveal. Also our predestination.
  4. Will of euarestias:  frequently referred to the preceptive will. That which we are to conform to.

Will of sign and pleasure:

  1. Beneplacit will: answers to the decretive will.
  2. Will of sign: answers to the preceptive will.

There aren’t contrarieties between the two because they do not will the same thing in the same manner and respect (sect. 18).

Eighteenth Question: Is the Will of God the primary rule of justice? We distinguish

The will can be called the primary rule of justice extrinsically in reference to us, but not intrinsically in reference to God. In other words, some things are good because God wills them (e.g., the ceremonial laws)  God’s natural justice is antecedent to his free act of will.

Nineteenth Question: Is Vindicative Justice Natural to God?

Divine justice can be considered either absolutely in itself or relatively with respect to its exercise. Question: Does God have the right to punish?  Is this natural to God? We prove:

  1. Scripture. Ex. 34:7. Hab. 1:13. If hatred of sin is necessary to God, then penal justice is equally necessary because the hatred of sin is the constant will of punishing it.
  2. Dictates of conscience
  3. Sanction of the law
  4. Our redemption through the death of Christ.

Twenty-First Question: The Power of God?  What is the omnipotence of God and does it extend to those things which imply a contradiction? We deny.

Power of God: The divine essence productive outwardly

  1. The object of God’s power is nothing other than the possible (sect. 6).
  2. A contradictory is logically impossible.
  3. God can do contraries, but not contradictories.

Twenty-Third Question: The Holy Trinity.  What are the meanings of the terms essence, substance, subsistence, person, Trinity, etc.?

ousia/essence: the “whatness” of a thing

Substance: we do not mean in this in the sense of God’s having accidents, but rather from subsisting (through himself and in himself)

Subsistence: “marks a mode of subsistence or personality” (sect. 5).

Person: it is properly concrete and not abstract.

Property: the mode of subsisting by which this or that person is constituted (sect. 14).

Twenty-Seventh Question: Can the Divine Persons be distinguished from the essence, and from each other, and how?

They differ not essentially, but modally (sect. 3).

Review: For Faith and Clarity

Beilby, James. ed. For Faith and Clarity: Philosophical Contributions to Christian Theology.

This book is not an intro to apologetics. It’s not even an intermediate text. It’s more like a supplement to some theological issues in apologetics. On the whole it is of limited value. Nevertheless, there were a few outstanding essays.

J. P. Moreland: General Ontology and Theology

Moreland outlines what substance metaphysics is. The ultimate categories are substance, property, and relation (47), and these categories are in sets. “A set of categories is a set of mutually exclusive and exhaustive classifications of all entities.”

A substance is a continuant that can change by gaining new properties and losing old ones, yet retaining its identity (57). Substance are not had by other properties. They have properties. A property is an existence reality which is exemplified by a substance.

William Lane Craig: Pantheists in spite of themselves.

Craig cuts Hegelianism off at the pass. For post-Hegelians God is the Infinite, yet any concept of the infinite contains within it the concept of the finite. Therefore, the finite is just as necessary as the infinite. Therefore, God is both infinite and finite. For Neo-Hegelians, “infinite” means “all.” The problem should be evident. God and the moon both exist, so this means that God is not all. Yet we hold that God is infinite.

How does a Christian respond to this? Craig notes that the Hegelian concept of infinity is just silly and outdated. Modern mathematics uses the concept of infinity, but it never means what Hegel says it means. Take Cantor’s sets:

0, 1, 2, 3,….

1, 3, 5, 7,…..

We can extend both sets to infinity. There is one to one correspondence between two sets if the members of A can be paired with the members of B. We do not need to get into all of the paradoxes with an actual infinite, but we need only show that the Neo-Hegelian definition is false.

J. Wesley Richards: Divine Simplicity

Richards gives 8 different senses of how divine simplicity was used in the history of the church.

  1. All divine properties are possessed by the same self-identical God.
  2. God is not composite in the sense of being made up of parts. God has no external causes.
  3. God’s essence is identical with his act of existing.
  4. All God’s essential properties are co-extensive.
  5. All God’s perfections are identical.
  6. All God’s properties are co-extensive.
  7. God’s essential properties and essence are (strictly) identical with God himself.
  8. All God’s properties are (strictly) identical with God himself..

Richards says that all Christians can accommodate P(1) – (6). Part of the difficulty is that earlier Christian thinkers were hamstrung by Platonic and medieval ontologies. For Thomas an essence of a thing is its “what it is as such” (Richards 162). Modern essentialism, by contrast, sees an entity as “exemplifying a certain essence.” For medieval realists, an entity participated (or shared) in the form of x. For modern essentialists, an entity exemplifies x.

Other essays of note are Plantinga’s evolutionary challenge and Wolterstorff’s essay on justice.

Plantinga’s Theses (Does God Have a Nature?)

Theses the analytical theses in his monograph.  It should make following along easier. It should be obvious that these 71 theses are not “71 propositions about God.”  Some are trivial and others are clearly false.  But throughout Plantinga’s narrative he will generate a proposition to show that a particular view has a contradiction, or to set up a future argument.

I laid out these theses because it is getting fashionable in some Reformed social media circles to set forth Aquinas’s view on divine simplicity as the only possible view and that Plantinga rejected classical theism.  Of course, I believe both claims to be false.

  1. God transcends human experience.  We cannot observe or in any other way experience him (this is Kant’s view)
  2. Our concepts do not apply to God.
  3. For any properties and in God, God’s having is identical with God’s having Q, and both are identical with God.
  4. States of affairs x’s having and y’s having Q are identical iff x’s having P is equivalent (obtains in the same possible worlds as) y’s having Q and x = y.
  5. God is sovereign and exists a se.
  6. God is alive, knowledgeable, capable of action, and good.
  7. If (5), then (a) God has created everything distinct from himself, (b) everything distinct from God is dependent upon him, (c) he is not dependent on anything distinct from himself, and (d) everything is within his control.
  8. If (6), then there are such properties as life, knowledgeability, capability of action, power and goodness’ and God has these properties.
  9. If God has these properties distinct from him, then he is dependent on them.
  10. God is a necessary being.
  11. God is essentially alive, knowledgeable, capable of action, powerful and good
  12. If (11), then there are such properties as life, knowledge, capability of action, power and goodness, and God could not have failed to have them.
  13. If (10) and God could not have failed to have these properties, then they could not have failed to exist, arenecessary beings.
  14. If God has some properties that exist necessarily and are distnct from him, then God is dependent on these properties and they are independent of him, uncreated by him and outside his control.
  15. If there is a property with which God is identical, then God is a property.
  16. No property is alive, knowledgeabl, capable of action, powerful or good.
  17. X depends on y iff y’s existence is a necessary condition of x‘s existence.
  18. x depends upon y for P iff if x has P and some proposition or state of affairs relevantly involving y is a necessary condition of x’s having P.
  19. Either Jim Whittaker or the Pope can climb Mt Everest.
  20. Either god or Bertrand Russell created the world is a necessary condition of God’s creating the world relevantly involves Betrand Russell.
  21. I exist.
  22. I have been created.
  23. X depends on y for P iff there is an action A such that y’s performing A is a logically necessary condition of x’s having P.
  24. It’s false that the Taj Mahal is red but not colored.
  25. Any omniscient being knows something.
  26. If God is sovereign and exists a se, then every truth is within his control.
  27. Red is a color.
  28. The proposition all dogs are animals’ is distinct from the proposition ‘all animals are dogs.’
  29. No numbers are persons.
  30. 2 x 4 = 8
  31. It’s not the case that all men are mortal and some men are not mortal.
  32. It’s not the case that God has created creatures that he has not created.
  33. God has created Descartes, but Descartes has not been created.
  34. It is impossible that God has created Descartes and Descartes has not been created.
  35. Possibly p.
  36. Possibly possibly p.
  37. Necessarily, 2 x 4 = 8.
  38. Since God has infinite power, there are no necessary truths.
  39. No particle has both an instantaneous position and an instantaneous velocity.
  40. 2 x 4 = 7.
  41. God has infinite power.
  42. That God has infinite power entails that no propositions are necessarily true.
  43. No propositions are necessarily true.
  44. The proposition ‘if God is infinitely powerful, then there are no necessary truths’ is a necessary truth.
  45. If God has infinite power, there are no necessary truths.
  46. If God has infinite power and if God has infinite power there are no necessary truths, then there are no necessary truths.
  47. God has made p true and has created in us a powerful tendency to believe p; we do believe p; and if we believe p we know p.
  48. We don’t know p and p is in fact false.
  49. 2 + 1 = 3.
  50. If, if p then q, and p, then q.
  51. God knows that he does not exist.
  52. God is omnipotent.
  53. If God is omnipotent, then his power is absolutely unlimited.
  54. If his power is absolutely unlimited, then he could make (51) true.
  55. If he could make (51) true, then (51) could be true and is possible.
  56. (51) is possible.
  57. God is sovereign.
  58. If God is sovereign, then everything is dependent on him.
  59. If everything is dependent upon him, then every truth is within his control.
  60. If every truth is within his control, then (51) could be true and is possible.
  61. (51) is not possible.
  62. There is a property that both exemplifies itself and does not exemplify itself.
  63. Whatever the Bible teaches is true.
  64. The Bible teaches that (61) is false.
  65. God has a nature.
  66. There are some necessary propositions.
  67. God has some property P.
  68. 7+5=12.
  69. God believes (68).
  70. Necessarily 7+5=12.
  71. It is part of God’s nature to believe that 7+5 = 12.

Beyond Classical or Personal Theism

Notes on the Frame/Dolezal discussion:

Frame rightly reacted to Dolezal’s Thomism, but more so the fact that Thomas’s view of God is like a solar disc whose rays never actually reach creation.  Sure, Thomas can say things like God’s knowledge creates realities.  And that’s good, but it never seems to really “fit” with the whole system.

Let’s ask ourselves some questions about Thomism and Hellenism:

  1. Is “I am Essence” the same thing as the God of the Burning Bush?
  2. Shouldn’t Thomas’s complete ignorance of Hebrew and passing ignorance of Greek discredit some of his ideas about God?  I mean, he bases exegesis of Scriptural texts off of Latin word studies!

That doesn’t mean Personal Theism is correct. I have problems with saying God is *in* time (not sure if Frame even says that).   But for us who read Hebrew and the Semitisms in NT Greek, we aren’t obligated to agree with Reformed Thomists.

A gloss of simplicity

I’ve been in conversation with Jay Dyer and watching his debate with Erick Ybarra over the past few weeks on the Roman view of divine simplicity.  Jay finally put his conclusions in one spot.  This is why even when I backed off from EO for a season, I never could fully jump to Thomism.

True, Protestantism officially enshrines this view, but that’s only confessional Protestantism.  This is one of those weird areas where Charismatics probably have the upper hand on divine simplicity.  Think about it this way:

  1. Do you worship the divine glory or a created replica of the divine glory?
  2. Could those in Scripture who were said to see the glory actually see the glory, or did they see a hologram?
  3. Did you pray to the relations of oppositions yesterday?

Jay helpfully pointed out that when St Athanasius says the Son is the willing of the Father, and Gregory Palamas says manifestation of the divine love,

palamas

Concerning the eternal manifestation as distinct from the hypostatic origin, Meyendorff writes:

“Gregory Palamas proposed a similar interpretation of this relationship in a number of his works; in his Confession of 1351, for instance, he asserts that the Holy Spirit “has the Father as foundation, source, and cause,” but “reposes in the Son” and “is sent – that is, manifested – through the Son.” (ibid. 194) In terms of the transcendent divine energy, although not in terms of substance or hypostatic being, “the Spirit pours itself out from the Father through the Son, and, if you like, from the Son over all those worthy of it,” a communication which may even be broadly called “procession” (ekporeusis) (Apodeictic Treatise 1.  Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory

Palamas  231-2).

Roman Catholic identifications.

The death knell to absolute divine simplicity is its identifying person, nature, and attribute.

  1. Denzinger says Augustine’s psychological predications are substantial. And then he says “he will is the Father, the will is the Son, the will is the Holy Spirit; just as God is the Father, God is the Son, God is the Holy Spirit and many other similar things,” (Denzinger sect. 296)
    1. Thus, Person = Attribute (in this case, the will), which in all Western theology = essence.
    2. Person = essence
  2. Relation of opposition.  Sometimes Rome will say relations of origination, which is Cappadocian.  But this only doubles their problem, for it takes one relation of origination (the monarchy of the Father) and applies it to the Son (in the Filioque).  But on to relations of opposition: as Jay notes, any opposition can only result in a dyad, not a triad.
  3. St John of Damascus and the energies of Christ:  Gods goodness is an energy or operation, not an attribute of an unknowable essence.  Energy (energein) is something that does.

Simplicity applied to Christology

This is what the dialectical view leads to:

(1) All acts of God are exactly identical to the divine essence.
(2) The divine person of Christ either acts according to his divine energy or his human energy.
(2.1) His creating the world or walking on water is a result of the divine energy.
(3) Therefore, Christ’s creating the world = his walking on water.

Sanctification

Energies can be participated in, something impossible if they are identical to the divine essence: 1 Cor. 12:6 reads: “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” In the Greek it is: ”καὶ διαιρέσεις ἐνεργημάτων εἰσίν ὁ δὲ αὐτός ἐστιν θεός ὁ ἐνεργῶν τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν.”

 

Athanasius, Orations Against the Arians

This work is a step up from Athanasius’s smaller treaty on the Incarnation.  Here we begin to see a fully worked-out theological ontology.  This review, however, will not deal with the controversies concerning Proverbs 8 in the Nicene world.  That would take up too much space.Saint-Athanasius-life-4

One needs to see Arius’s thought in context before one can appreciate how Athanasius fundamentally destroyed the Hellenistic mindset.  It’s not simply that Arius thought Jesus was created.  He did, but Arius also thought he was being faithful to the conservative philosophical tradition in Alexandria.  That tradition is best seen as the shadow of Neo-Platonism.  It’s not a pure Neo-Platonism (if such a monster even exists), but it’s close enough on issues like simplicity.

Disclosure: I relied heavily on Joseph Farrell’s (D.Phil Oxford, Patristic Theology)  analysis of the Athanasian crisis, as well as conversations with several of his students.  Any faults are entirely my own.

Establishing the Dialectic

Short answer: Arius defined the deity in terms of a specific property of the Father (unbegottenness), but behind this definition was embedded a philosophical dialectic, which, if left unchecked, would control orthodox categoreis. The Arians saw divine simplicity unicity of a nontransferable monadic state, to use John McGuckin’s fine phrase. If the Father is simple essence, and the Son is not the Father, then the Son is of a different essence.  The problem is that the Hellenistic/Arian mind identified God’s essence with a particular property (unbegottenness). It was Athanasius’s genius to break the back of this system by noting that essence isn’t the same as person or property.

Arius shows what Origenism looks like if taken to its Neo-Platonic conclusion.  The One is utterly simple and beyond.  It is beyond subject and object, yet if the One “thinks” (or makes any kind of distinction, be it the idea to create the world or the decision to beget the Son), and given that person-will-essence are identical, and that ideas/operations are now simply effluences of the essence, Arius is forced to one of several conclusions:

  1. a) The ideas produced by the one are also identical to the one
  2. b) It is completely separate from the one by means of duplication and distance.
  3. c) If the Son is eternal, then Creation, being an object of willing, is also eternal, since the act of will is equal to the eternal essence per Arian simplicity.  Simply put, for this tradition, there can’t be distinctions between operation and essence, because the essence itself does not allow for any distinctions!

Why does (c) follow? If God has the property of being-Creator as well as the property of being-Father, and the essence is eternal, and the essence is identical to the act of will/property, then he must be eternally creator, which draws out another inference

cc) Creation is eternal

Smashing the Dialectic

d) The generation of the Son is according to the essence, since the being is from the Father, while the creation of the world is according to the divine will.  

As James Kelley notes, for “Arius the category of what God is (nature) is the same as what God does (operation).”

Now for the actual text….

Discourse I

* The Father and Son were not generated from some pre-existing origin….but the Father is the Origin of the Son and begat him (I.5).

*The Difference between Work and Begetting: “The work is external to the nature, but a son is the proper offspring of the essence” (I.8.29).

Discourse II

* The Word must be the living Will of the Father, and an essential energy (enousion energia), and a real Word” (II.14.2). Athanasius’s point is that the Word can’t be a product of the Father’s will since he is the Father’s will.  

That blunts Arius on one point but it raises another problem: isn’t making the Word the Father’s will confusing person with nature, which is what Arius did?  One could say that Athanasius isn’t defining the Deity of the Son in terms of a specific divine property.  

Elsewhere Athanasius notes that the Son is in the Father and the Son’s being is proper to the Father.  And given that Athanasius follows the Patristic ordo in reasoning from Person to Operation to Essence, then the Son’s being the living will points to a unity of operation.  Hence, we now see that the Son reveals the common operation and energy, and so reveals the common essence.

Discourse III

* The Son doesn’t “participate” in God.  This is a break with Platonism (III.23.1).

* The Son is in the Father….because the whole Being of the Son is proper to the Father’s essence….For whereas the Form and Godhead of the Father is the Being of the Son, it follows that the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son” (III.23.4).

Christ’s being in the flesh deifies the flesh, and only God can properly deify (III.27.38).

Nota Bene:

Athanasius has a robust angelology

  1. Angels are not the same as the Thrones, nor the Thrones the same as the Authorities (II.16.19).

 

Review: Hilary of Poitiers

Taken from NPNF (Second Series) vol 9.

In reviewing St Hilary’s thought, I will be relying primarily on Geofrey Bromiley’s Historical Theology for clarification on more difficult points.    In no way can Hilary’s work be considered a literary masterpiece.  It is about one hundred pages too long, repetitive, and wordy.  To be fair, he wrote much of it in exile and like Augustine, was not always privy to the more mature Eastern thinking (though Hilary rectified this in some ways).http___1.bp_.blogspot.com_-4kLDqWIpyOM_T0y85bH3ESI_AAAAAAAAIE0_L_9l7cPwjow_s400_inp153

Further, Hilary shouldn’t be read in isolation from his very important text, De Synodis. There Hilary explains how homoousion should function in theology.  He writes (De Synodis 67-69)

There is also a third error, which takes ‘Father and Son of one substance’ to indicate a prior substance, which the two share equally.  The orthodox will assert ‘one substance of Father and son’; but he must not start from that: nor must he hold this as the chief truth, as if there could be no true faith without it.

We do not begin with the essence in abstract for the very simple reason that such essence is incomprehensible and/or undefinable.

Hilary begins his theology with God’s revelation.  We know God as he reveals himself to us.  However, our theologizing about God will always be opaque.  God is invisible, ineffable, etc., and the mind grows weary trying to comprehend him (ii.6).  Language itself fails us as words are powerless (ii.7).   Analogies offer some help but they only hint at the meaning (i.19).

Trinitarian theology for the church begins with the baptismal formula in St Matthew’s gospel.  The Father is the origin of all; the Son is the only-begotten, and the Spirit is the gift (ii.1).    As the source of all the Father has being in himself.   The fullness of the Father is in the Son.   Because the Son is of the Father’s nature, the Son has the Father’s nature.  Hilary’s point is that like nature begats like nature.

In a break with pagan thought, Hilary distinguishes between person and nature:  “nor are there two Gods but one from one” (ii.11).

Hilary and the Spirit

Did Hilary teach the Filioque?  It’s hard to tell, and neither camp should draw hard conclusions.  The facts are these:  1) in ii.29 the Schaff edition reads “we are bound to confess him, proceeding as He does, from Father and Son.”  However, the foonote points out that there are alternative, more probable readings.  It is acknowledged that throughout Hilary’s work the text has been corrupted at parts.   Even assuming the present reading to be the correct one, one must ask if by procession Hilary would mean the same thing as later Filioquist writers?  The Latin word for proceed (procedere) does not have the same range as the multiple Greek words for “proceed.”  Roman Catholic scholar Jean Miguel Garrigues notes that one simply can’t read English translations of the Latin semantic domains of “proceed” and from that infer, quite simplisticly, that Hilary believed in the Filioque (L’Esprit qui dit «Père!» (Paris 1981), pp. 65-75.; [no, I don’t read French).

2) Hilary goes on elsewhere to affirm that the Spirit is from the Father alone (viii.20) and the Father through the Son (xii.57); neither of these texts, obviously, are hard Filioquist reads, and in any case, this wasn’t Hilary’s point.

Evaluation

As an anti-Arian text, there is a reason why the Church spends more time with St Athanasius, Ambrose, and the Cappadocians.  The Cappadocians and St Ambrose would later refine Hilary’s argument.

The Eucharist: St Hilary draws an analogy between the “of one nature” with Father and Son and the utter reality of the Son in the Eucharist.  We receive the very Word make flesh in the Eucharist, not due to an agreement of will but because the Son took man’s nature to himself.

We know God by his operations or powers (later theologians would say energies):  God’s self-revelation displays his Name (Person).  This reveals his nature (i.27).

Rejects philosophical nominalism:  names correspond to realities (ix.69).

On the Rock of Matthew 16.19ff:  “This faith it is which is the foundation of the Church; through this faith the gates of hell cannot prevail against her” (vi. 37).  The faith of the apostles, not the see of Peter, is the foundation of the Church.

Conclusion

It is not a literary masterpiece, nor is it really an outstanding apologia against Arianism.  However, it is a faithful reflection of the Tradition passed down, and it does give many remarkable “snapshots” of the Church’s belief which can inform, challenge, and hopefully change the minds of folk today.

Outline of God, Revelation, Authority (vol 5)

By Carl F Henry.

carl henry

The first four volumes dealt with epistemology.  The final two deal with ontology and the doctrine of God.

“God who stands” = personal sovereign containing in himself the ground of his own existence.

“God who stays” = governs in providence and in eschatological consummation (Henry 10).

Substance language

Does have its uses.  Its basic meaning is “to stand under.”  It is not an essence distinguishable from the divine personality (11).  God stands under, not as an underlying substratum, but as the free originator (12).

“God stands” includes his revelational initiative.

“Secular religion lacks revelational criteria to distinguish the divine from the demonic in its promotion of social revolution” (39).

Chapter 2: The Being, Coming, and Becoming of God

Thesis:  The Bible has no problem with “being-language,” but such language is always conditioned by God’s self-disclosure (48-49).  And this self-disclosure is known to us (if not exhausted by) by valid propositional truths.

Chapter 3: The Living God of the Bible

The ambiguous status of cosmic powers in the Bible is not because of some evolutionary move towards mono- or henotheism.  Rather, it is because that world has an ambiguous ontology of rival spirits (74).

Chapter 4: Methods of Determining the Divine Attributes

Henry surveys the three ways (negation, eminence, causality) and finds them inadequate.  Even neo-orthodox scholars must presuppose some positive statements about God in order for them to posit a crisis-intuitive encounter.

Can we know God “in himself?”  Henry cautiously affirms that.  If our knowledge of God’s nature and attributes comes from cognitive, propositional statements from God’s self-disclosure, then there is no reason why we can’t have metaphysical knowledge about God’s nature (96).

God’s attributes are determined by a logically ordered exposition of scriptural revelation  (100).

Chapter 5: Relationship between Essence and Attributes

Realism: “nonmental ‘substance’ is the ontological core of all finite realities.”

Henry’s position: rejects that there is an underlying substratum in which attributes inhere.  This would make the forms and logic “other than” and superior to God.

Chapter 6: God’s Divine Simplicity and Attributes

Essence or nature of God: a living personal unity or properties and attributes (130).  “Essence and attributes are integral to each other.”  “A living unity of perfections.”

“God’s activities are divine qualities or attributes.”

Chapter 7: Personality in the Godhead

Person: the medievals applied it, not to God’s being, but to the distinctions within the Godhead (153). For us there is both personality of God and personality in God.

 

Chapter 8: Muddling the Trinitarian Dispute

Divine personality is not simply the human self infinitely expanded.

Chapter 9: The Doctrine of the Trinity

Gregory of Nyssa: the Trinity is a Platonic idea where the three persons are subsumed under the one idea of God just as three men are subsumed under the one idea of Man.

Shedd: There is a personality to the Godhead.  This is not the same as the person of the essence.

 

Chapter 11: God the Self-Revealed Infinite

Barth: Infinity is the plenitude of God’s perfections (Henry, 230).

Chapter 12: Divine Timelessness or Unlimited

Thesis:  God is timelessly eternal (239).  This is not the same thing as an “everlasting now.”

Chapter 13: The modern attack on the timeless God

Question: If God is timeless, how does he respond in time to humans? The answer lies in his sovereignty.

Chapter 14: Divine Timelessness and Omniscience

Omniscience: God’s perfect knowledge of all things, actual or possible, past, present or future” (268).   “The biblical view implies that God is not in time; that there is no succession of ideas in the divine mind” (276).

Chapter 15: Immutability not borrowed from the Greeks

The changelessness predicated of an eternal being is different from the changelessness of a being in time (288).

Chapter 16: The Sovereignty of the Omnipotent God

God’s power is not exhausted by his universe.

Chapter 17: God’s Intellectual Attributes (very important chapter!!)

Thesis: God is the source and ground of all rational distinction (334).  The laws of logic are the architecture of God’s mind.  “The divine Logos is creative and revelatory.”

Revelation is divine self-disclosure.

Chapter 19: The Knowability of God

Incomprehensibility does not imply unknowability.

Chapter 20: Man’s Mind and God’s Mind

Our minds “coincide” in certain propositions, but not pantheistically (383).

Review: Untamed God

This is a magnificently fine book.  Richards seeks to offer a robust defense of classical theism, yet he is sensitive to the challenges. He mostly succeeds.

Thesis:  “Christians should affirm that God has an essence, which includes his perfections and essential properties, and should attribute to God essential and contingent properties” (Richards 17).

Essentialism: belief that so-called ‘de re’ modality is relevant to our understanding of God.  It is appropriate to speak of a cluster of properties which God necessarily exemplifies and without which he would not be God, and contingent properties which he only has in some possible worlds (18 n1).

In chapter 2 he gives a dizzying, yet helpful account of modal logic.  He presents the S5 system, in which all possible propositions are necessarily possible.  This allows him to draw upon Plantinga’s account of possible worlds as “maximally consistent states of affairs.”  

The definition of essence is a set of properties that an entity exemplifies (64). A property is some fact or truth about an entity in the world.  In our usage we want to say that Socrates has necessary/essential properties without saying that Socrates is necessary to every possible world.  We would say it like this:

“S has P and there is no W in which S has the complement ~P of P.  

Property actualism states that S has no properties in worlds in which he does not exist.

□(x)(P(x) → E(x))

Therefore, The essentialist argues that there is a distinction between essential divine properties and accidental (contingent) divine properties (90). Property: a state of affairs concerning entities of different types. While saying there are contingent properties in God seems to depart from the tradition, it really doesn’t.  God’s deciding to create the world is a contingent divine property. God has P in every world.  God’s essence is concretely instantiated in every possible world (95). God’s essential attributes, those he has in every possible world, are divine ‘perfections’ (96).  “They include all those properties susceptible to perfection.”

Richards has several chapters on Barth and Hartshorne, noting some promising moves in the former and rebutting the latter.  The chapter on Barth traded on an unresolved question:  Did Barth hold to strong actualism?  I think he did.  Richards isn’t so sure.

He ends the book with a fine chapter on divine simplicity, noting the numerous ways it has been employed in the Tradition:

(1) all divine properties are possessed by the same self-identical God.
(2) God is not composite, in the sense that he is not made up of elements or forms more fundamental than he is.
(3) God’s essence is identical with his act of existing.
(4) All God’s essential properties are coextensive.
(5) All God’s perfections are identical.
(6) All God’s properties are coextensive
(7) God’s essential properties and essence are strictly identical with himself.
(8) All God’s properties are strictly identical with himself.

Question: when the medieval denied God has accidents, is he denying what the essentialist is affirming, that God has contingent properties (225)?  Maybe not.  The essentialist, for example, says contingent relations are divine accidents, but Thomas calls these external relations ad extra.

The medievals denied that “goodness” and the like were accidental to God, because they (rightly) wanted to deny that God participates in the form of Goodness.  But this isn’t what the essentialist is claiming.

Therefore, the essentialist accepts (1)-(4), noting that “existence” today doesn’t have quite the same connotations as existence did for Thomas.  (5) is tricky.  (6) seems unproblematic.  (7)-(8) are deeply problematic.

Notes on Shedd, part 1

From Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology.

Prolegomena

“If  all that can be said by the theologian respecting God is that he is not this or that, then the mind has in fact no object before it and no cognition whatever…The deity becomes the unknown and unknowable” (Shedd 71).

Revelation

On Genesis 1-2: “As far as the text is concerned, there is full right to explain it (e.g., day) as a period” (107).

Theology: Doctrine of God

God’s Spirituality

Man knows the nature of a finite spirit by his own self-consciousness; he knows the nature of an infinite spirit analogically (153).

Divine spirit: God is the most real substance of all.

  1. God is a necessary essence
  2. God is ens, actual being (157).
  3. God is unextended and invisible substance (164).
  4. Without passions:  passion implies passivity

God’s Personality

  1. Personality is marked by two characteristics
    1. Self-consciousness
      1. Regarding the Trinity, “the media to self-consciousness are all within the divine essence” (173).
      2. God distinguishes himself from himself, thus two acts.  There is now a reciprocal object-ego, which then requires a third term, percipient between the two (174).
    2. Self-determination
  2. “The three distinctions in the one essence personalize it: God is personal because he is three persons” (171).

Innate Idea and Knowledge of God

Arguments for the Divine Existence

Trinity in Unity

Thesis:  God cannot be self-contemplating, self-cognitive, and self-communing unless he is trinal in  constitution (220).

Terminology

  1. God is trinal, not triplex.  The latter connotes composition (229).
  2. Person denotes a mode of essence
  3. We prefer essence to substance, because the latter implies accidents.
  4. A divine person: the divine essence with a special property, subsisting in an especial manner (Owen, Trinity Vindicated, 10.504)

Nota Bene: The three persons/one essence doesn’t make the essence a fourth person.  Shedd explains by way of analogy: when the subject-ego posits the object-ego, it simultaneously posits the whole human spirit along with it; but this act doesn’t create a second human spirit (235).

Divine Attributes

Definition: “A Trinitarian person is a mode of the essence; a divine attribute is a phase of the essence” (275).

Simplicity:

Omniscience: Divine knowledge is:

  1. Intuited, not discursive; direct vision (286).
  2. Simultaneous, not successive
  3. Complete and certain

God has a knowledge of all possible things (287).  This is his simple knowledge. Interestingly, Shedd denominates God’s conditional knowledge (e.g., Mt. 11.21-23) as middle knowledge (287).

Justice

God’s holiness is the perfect rectitude of his will (290).

  1. Rectoral justice: God is right in himself and all his actions
  2. Distributive justice: God’s rectitude in the execution of law.
  3. Remunerative justice: distribution of rewards

The Divine Decrees

“The divine decree relates only to God’s opera ad extra” (311).  There are sequences in the execution but not the formation.  

You must have the divine decree to have foreknowledge; otherwise, how will the event be certain?  It will then be contingent.  “An event must be made certain before it can be known as a certain event” (313).

Theses on the divine decree:

  1. It is founded in wisdom (Eph. 1:11).
  2. It is eternal (Acts 15:18)
  3. It is universal, including “whatsoever things come to pass.”
  4. It is immutable; there is no defect in God’s knowledge, power, and certainty (Isaiah 46.10).

Efficacious and Permissive Decrees

“The efficacious decree determines the event”

  1. By phsical and material causes (Job 28.26)
  2. By an immediate spiritual agency (2 Tim. 2:25)

The permissive decree relates only to moral evil.  If we deny God’s permissive decree, then we make evil independent and this leads to dualism and manicheanism (319).

On an Arminian scheme, a man may at any time fall from faith and therefore his fate can’t be determined until death. Therefore, he is elected after he is dead! (345)

Creation

Shedd holds to old-earth.  Day is not defined by the bible as 24 hour period; the following:

  1. Day means daylight in distinction from darkness (Gen. 1.5; 16, 18)
  2. Day means daylight and darkness together (1.5)
  3. Day means the six days together (2.4).
  4. The first day could not have been measured by solar revolutions.

Against Eternality of Matter

If matter is eternal then it must be the first cause, but matter cannot be the first cause because this is self-moving and perpetually moving.  Matter is marked by the force of inertia (380).

Miracles

They aren’t unnatural events; they are natural to God (417). Miracles upon earth are nature in heaven.

ANTHROPOLOGY

Man’s Creation

Traducianisim: applies the idea of species to body and soul (431).  The key question: when God created Adam and Eve, did he create in and with them the invisible substance of all the succeeding generations of men?  And by this “invisible substance” Shedd simply means the “principle of life itself” (434).

  1. Key argument:  the whole female was produced out of the male (439).

Original Sin

In line with Shedd’s traducianism, he sins posterity sinned in Adam geminally and not covenantally (435).