December 2, 2020

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

Chris Fisher quotes Dr. John Frame’s systematic theology in order to prove that Divine Simplicity(DDS) is Neo-Platonism. Chris Fisher then quotes Dr. Frame out of context and ignores other statements Frame has made. Chris Fisher is obviously being deceptive to feed his Open Theist narrative. The idea that God isn’t a humanoid creature wearing tights upsets him. Let’s quote the article:

On this view, it is not enough to say that God’s attributes, for example, are necessary to his being; rather, the multiplicity of attributes is only apparent. In reality, God is a being without any multiplicity at all, a simple being for whom any language suggesting complexity, distinctions, or multiplicity is entirely unsuited.

That is essentially the Plotinian neo-Platonic view, in which the best name of God is One. In the preceding section, I criticized Moltmann for equating this notion with monotheism. For Plotinus, even the name One is inadequate, since God is utterly beyond the descriptive power of human language. But One is the best we can do, since unity is prior to multiplicity and more noble than multiplicity.

Frame, John M.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (p. 430). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The interpretation that Dr. Frame is stating DDS is Neoplatonism qua DDS either shows that Chris Fisher lacks reading comprehension or that he is deceptive and his preferred model of citing people is quote mining. I will admit that it simply could be both and that doesn’t surprise me from his prior review of my own articles. Dr. Frame is simply commenting on something known as Thomistic Divine Simplicity. Dr. Frame himself holds to a form of DDS. Frame thinks that the result of Thomistic Simplicity is that you end up having something similar to Neoplatonism. To quote the section that Fisher left out:

But Aquinas sometimes seems to deny any complexity at all in God. He argues, for example, that unity must always be prior to multiplicity, so that God, who is prior to everything, must have no multiplicity. Elsewhere in SCG, he argues that the different names we use for God are not synonymous, though they refer to God’s simple being. He denies that such names compromise God’s simplicity, not by arguing that there are genuine complexities and pluralities in God, to which the different names refer, but by arguing that the plurality is in our minds: we must conceive of the simple being of God by “diverse conceptions.”

Frame, John M.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Kindle Locations 11959-11965). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Frame has always affirmed a form of DSS. He states it in this Systematic and his other works:

To say that God is simple, in the scholastic philosophy, is to say that there is no composition in his being. Specifically, there is no composition of physical parts, form and matter, actual and potential, genus and differentia, substance and accident, God and his essence, essence and attributes, attributes and one another, essence and esse. God is not, then, in any sense made up of parts. Granted that God is not a physical being, it is obvious that he is not made up of physical parts. Nor can he be divided into form and matter, or actuality and potentiality, since he has no matter or (passive) potentiality. Nor is he made up of genus and differentia, since he is not in a genus, nor is he a genus (godhood) differentiated by species (various gods). Nor is he made up of substance and accidents, because there are no accidents in him. Since God has no accidents, everything in him is essential to his being; so he is, in a sense, his essence.

Frame, John M.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Kindle Locations 11926-11934). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Thomism isn’t the only philosophical option on the market. Take my friend Jimmy Stephens’ Van Tilian model:

Thomas thought God had one Godness property. The differences in God appear as a result of our finite interpretation, not God’s complexity. Grudem is a good counterexample. God is infinitely complex, but in His perfections, not in parts or participations. God has many different properties, but all of them are personal effects or modes of the Trinity. A property of God is real, but not as an abstractable concept. God’s properties do not tell us what God is so much as how God is.