April 7, 2020

The Council

A modern day council!

The following are just some things Jimmy Stephens has said about EG and Divine Simplicity:

If the divine essence is one, shared by all three Persons, then the properties/attributes/perfections/what have you, by which we define the essence as revealed, cannot be different with regard to each Person. Simply put, the attributes of God must be identical in each personal hypostases. For example, the Father cannot have aseity and the Son lack aseity; hence, Calvin recognizes each Person as autotheos. However, it goes further in that the Father cannot have aseity1 while the Son has aseity2, which we could put rhetorically as aseity vs shmaseity. If aseity, of the Father, includes His unbegottenness, then aseity of the Son cannot include begottenness, for then the Father and Son have different kinds of aseities. And if they have different kinds of aseities, then they do not share numerically one essence. And if the essence is not one, there goes simplicity. In response, EG proponents have here tried to argue that the Father’s unbegottenness is not tied in with aseity or have suggested (intentionally or inwittingly) that the Persons can possess the essence according to different manners of possession.

The latter is obviously absurd since different manners of possession would require different categories, laws, whatever, external to the essence/persons by which their possession is determined. There goes aseity and simplicity. So the best thing the EG proponent can do is argue that begoten/unbegoten is different than uncreated/created or uncaused/caused. But that’s where EG proponents either throw up their hands and shout mystery or pretend that words like generation are intelligible according to a mysterious non-causal principle no one here has been able to proffer.The former means EG’s best epistemological status is an impasse. The latter makes theological terminology meaningless. So you’re stuck choosing Lutheran levels of incredulity or noncognitivism, take your pick.

There’s another argument I’ve been considering as well. It revolves around the idea that EG leads to a unitarianistic negation of simplicity. The reason being that there is no Person correspondent to relations like begottenness. That is, there’s nothing about Person A that makes Him the Father except an external relation to another Person. There’s no general-particular relation; generation is pure abstract. If that’s true, then EG is indistinguishable from, say, Craig’s view in effect. Why? Because it’s utterly accidental whether the Father is the Father. He’s not the Father as an intrinsic matter. He’s merely the Father because He happens to be generating a Second Person. But why couldn’t the Second Person just generate the First?

To answer that, the EG proponent would betray that all we mean by Father is “the one who generates.” That is hilariously unbiblical.

@Furen, as to the definition of simplicity, there are various accounts. I don’t agree with the Thomist variety. I think simplicity means, negatively:
1.) God’s perfections are not collected simples, “parts.”
2.) God’s perfections are not general laws instantiated in Him, like Platonic Forms.
3.) God’s perfections are unique – not shared by anything other than Himself.
Therefore, positively:
4.) God’s perfections are mutually entailing; each perfection entails all others.
5.) God’s perfections contain every other. That is, they define each other (e.g., God’s love is immutable and omnipotent, and His immutability is loving and omnipotent).
6.) God’s perfections are one and many, not de facto either. That is, similar to the way a space is infinitely divisible, so God’s perfections are understood by Himself perspectivally.

1) The problem with a (monistic) strategy of attributing aseity to (the) God(head) but not to the Persons is twofold. First, Scripture does not speak that way. The Bible is more than happy to attribute aseity to the Son in particular. Second, to the extent we cannot attribute aseity to individual Members of the Trinity, we cannot uphold them as hypostases of one singular nature or divine essence. It reduces to an essence which then emanates three persons or which then happens to instantiate thrice in Father, Son, and Spirit. Either way, that’s disguised unitarianism, if unintentional.
2.) The core of Trinitarian thought and what was affirmed by the creeds is that the Trinitarian Persons possess the one divine essence. Hence, they participate in its perfections/possess them, and can be characterized by us as them.
3.) While @David1769‘s view reduces God’s unity or essence to an impersonal, Platonic grocery list of attributes floating in the ether, he does make a point. If only the unity of God has these attributes and that unity of God is characterized as He, then isn’t their a fourth more ultimate person undergirding the Trinity

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