Divine Simplicity

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by HeirofSalvation, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. HeirofSalvation

    HeirofSalvation
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    I have become intrigued a lot recently about the notions and teachings of "Divine Simplicity". Recently, many of us have thrown around many statements (maybe even somewhat carelessly sometimes) about what God "Can" or "Cannot" do. I am quite un-commital (unless it serves my own P.O.V. usually) about what the realities surrounding "Divine Simplicity" are. In other words...many on this board (myself included) ascribe to God what properties he posseses which most adequately fit him into whichever box we have relegated him to. Does anyone want to suggest some succinct definitions of how this is to be viewed? Catholicism....for all it's ills, has some remarkable achievements respecting "Theology Proper"; Any thoughts about this?
     
  2. humblethinker

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    This is a subject I've been wanting and waiting to bring to the floor! Imo, Divine Simplicity, to be consistent, entails atemporality, non-relationality, strong immutability, impassibility, etc. and is a concept contrary to much Biblical evidence, especially an incarnated God. Imo, the idea that God 's attributes must be as the greatest extreme of each and all of these terms is just absurd... Yet many subscribe to such so... One can have a consistent and coherent theology where these ideas appropriately describe some aspects of God but when all are taken to their greatest extension and are said to represent all attributes of God this quickly becomes incoherent, inconsistent and finally, absurd.
     
  3. Bro. James

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    God is potter. Man is clay.

    All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. There are none righteous, not one.

    We have the audacity and arrogance to define God.

    Shall we consider: the totality of man's depravity?

    Peace,

    Bro. James
     
  4. humblethinker

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    I'm not sure what you are saying or even if what you may be saying supports the claims I think you're making. Can you be more specific?
     
  5. Skandelon

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    I totally hear what you are saying, and I think I agree with the general premise. However, I might take a bit different approach.

    I do believe God's attributes are 'the greatest extreme' in that there is no attribute greater than that which is found in God. I don't think the problem is so much about anyone over emphasizing the greatness or ability or power of God (i.e. omni-everything), because the scripture does reveal these attributes. The problem begins when people begin to draw logical linear cause/effect conclusions as if God were a finite man who had these attributes. Instead of appealing to mystery as to how exactly all these eternally divine attributes work in relation to a finite created world, they make bold and conclusive statements, such as, "If God knew all things prior to creating all things, then he MUST have determined all things to be unchangeably just as they are."

    That statement, like many other finite linear logical constructs, presumes God is on our finite timeline looking into the future to see what will come to be and then creating it to be as such. That seems to be putting God into an awfully small box, to me. And that statement itself makes little sense. How does God merely see a future he has yet to create? He can create a future so as to foresee it, but it has to originate somewhere first. It just baffles me that some are willing to make such bold conclusions about a infinitely mysterious God.
     
  6. 12strings

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    I think he's saying we can't figure it out and we are wasting our time. If so, I disagree on the second point. We can't figure it out...but pondering the nature of God and seeking to describe (not define) him biblically is a valuable endeavor that will lead us to appreciate God's character and worship him more for his greatness and inscrutability...

    ...realizing that we will never be able to unscrew the unscrutable:laugh:
     
  7. HeirofSalvation

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    Not germaine to the notion of "Divine Simplicity" at all.

    No, He has condescended in some ways to us to define HIMSELF We have a duty to both "understand" and "know" him to the extent that he has revealed himself to us.
    Jer 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I [am] the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these [things] I delight, saith the LORD.
    There is no knowledge a man can have greater than knowledge of WHO and WHAT the object of ultimate worship is. There is no meditation greater than meditation upon who God is as the ultimate end of all things.
     
  8. humblethinker

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    I disagree, but maybe we're talking past each other... I'd say that God's attributes are the 'the greatest extreme' in that they are the most praisworthy and admirable. For example, imo there is nothing admirable about a being that does not relate to other sentient relational beings, yet 'the greatest extreme' of immutability and impassability requires this stoic-ness. If that is not 'the greatest extreme' of immutability or impassibility then there is a qualification, an equivocation in the use and meaning of 'the greatest extreme' or impassability or immutability. Such redifining of word-shifting coming from a calvinist is not surprising but it should be far from us. Many more examples of 'omni's and '-ility's taken to absurdity, ie. 'their greatest extreme' can be offered.

    I agree, I would not support such a statement.
     
  9. humblethinker

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    Oooo, nice statements! Are they original?

    And oh, this is funny!:
    Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal.
    Leo Tolstoy​
     
  10. Bro. James

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    Where does Jesus the Christ fit into this latest cosmology? One cannot find the True and Living God outside a personal relationship with God, The Son, The Redeemer, The Annointed One, The Creator...

    Albert from Einstein recognized an intelligence higher than his in E=mC2. Al never expressed a personal relationship with deity. Many still follow Al--not Jesus.

    Jesus told Nicodemus, a master of religion, "You must be born again to enter the kingdom of God." Nick had not a clue.

    Simple, for sure--a little child can understand. Most Right Reverend Doctors seem to have a problem.
    There is only One Way, One Truth, One Life.

    Peace,

    Bro. James
     
  11. AresMan

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    I do not believe we have to attribute to God the faults and limitations associated with how man relates to man to understand God as being relational.
    Since God is the Creator, we should be able to agree that He knows more about us than we know about ourselves.
     
  12. humblethinker

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    What faults and limitations are you talking about?
    Why do you feel the need to make such a statement with no followup? Of course this is the case. What is your point?

    Would you agree with "'the greatest extreme' of immutability and impassability requires this stoic-ness" but just claim it a mystery how such a God is able to be relational to his creation as shown in the scripture? So, He is an impassable God that is passible? Is He a Being that is immutable in every way but simultaneously engages in reciprocal relationships with his sentient creatures?
     
  13. Skandelon

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    I think we agree for the most part. I'd just say that I don't believe immutability and impassability requires stoic-ness if one views God from a triune perspective. God the father can, on the one hand, know the time of His return, while God to Son, doesn't. I don't understand that, but I accept it. In the same manner I believe God can have divine attribute, on the one hand, which may appear to us as being un-relatable ('stoic'), but on the other hand, still be completely relatable and non-stoic. That is the imminence and transcendence working in One Being. He knew and allowed Lazarus to die, on the one hand, but weeps with his friends on the other.
     
    #13 Skandelon, Jul 16, 2012
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  14. HeirofSalvation

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    I am posting here, more as someone inquisitive than someone convinced....I see this doctrine as you do...a tendency towards perceiving God's attributes as being "
    This seems to be a "buzz-word" more held by Catholics than a doctrinal notion adhered to by Protestants and Baptists...Is this a sufficient definition? What do others know about this? Can someone more succinctly describe this doctrine? It seems to be "useful" if understood correctly, and not inherently heretical...but it may have some mistaken ideas...I am very curious about this. Catholics have had roughly 2k years to educatedly surmise about "Theology Proper" without risk of either compromise or refutation...So, do they have something going here? I think this is an "official" position of the RCC....I am not sure. I may spit-ball this on the "Other Christian denominations" threads...see if any Catholics can respond.
     
    #14 HeirofSalvation, Jul 19, 2012
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  15. humblethinker

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    Diviine Simplicity is surely a Cal favorite!
    Here's a little bit from Stanford:

    According to the classical theism of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and their adherents, God is radically unlike creatures in that he is devoid of any complexity or composition, whether physical or metaphysical. Besides lacking spatial and temporal parts, God is free of matter/form composition, potency/act composition, and existence/essence composition. There is also no real distinction between God as subject of his attributes and his attributes. God is thus in a sense requiring clarification identical to each of his attributes, which implies that each attribute is identical to every other one. God is omniscient, then, not in virtue of instantiating or exemplifying omniscience — which would imply a real distinction between God and the property of omniscience — but by being omniscience. And the same holds for each of the divine omni-attributes: God is what he has. As identical to each of his attributes, God is identical to his nature. And since his nature or essence is identical to his existence, God is identical to his existence. This is the doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS). It is represented not only in classical Christian theology, but also in Jewish, Greek, and Islamic thought. It is to be understood as an affirmation of God's absolute transcendence of creatures. God is not only radically non-anthropomorphic, but radically non-creaturomorphic, not only in respect of the properties he possesses, but in his manner of possessing them. God, we could say, differs in his very ontology from any and all created beings.​

    So, do cals or anyone else here hold that "There is also no real distinction between God as subject of his attributes and his attributes."?

    Alright... Is there anyone on the board that wants to defend and maybe help us understand how our God is described accurately by Divine Simplicity?
     
  16. quantumfaith

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    I would love to help out, however you have far exceeded my rational, sentient, spatial, temporal et al. capabilities. :) Is there a Divine Simplicity for Dummies site available?
     
    #16 quantumfaith, Jul 19, 2012
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  17. humblethinker

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    Ok, I think you're trying yo hustle me now QF! if the stanford link was too complex then there's the wikipedia page for it. Lots of dummies read wikipedia, so I've been told.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWJi-yNfIeQ&feature=youtube_gdata_playerThis guy does a pretty good job of explaining. You can ff to 5:35 for divine simplicity.
     

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