October 27, 2020

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

Duffy on the Incarnation

I had a recent conversation regarding the Incarnation with Open Theist Will Duffy. Here is an edited version of that conversation:

TheSire:

” A sequential change happened with God the Son, as He went from one nature to two natures. This means He now has a past, when He only had one nature. And He has a future, where He will now forever have two natures.”

The Son changed. Indeed but it isn’t obvious that his Divine nature changed. The Son qua incarnate has temporal positions. The Son qua incarnation stands in the sequence of time.

Tyler Vela:

right. Open Theists typically have fundamental misunderstandings of the essential attributes. They are of the divine nature of the Godhead. We start with the unity.
This is basic trinitarian theology. That Will wanted to say that God is one person and three persons shows he doesn’t understand his own professed trinitarianism.

Will Duffy:

Tyler, I’m not sure if you don’t understand or are just being difficult. I did explain it. A timeless God cannot have a past or future. A timeless God cannot have just one nature and two natures. (That’s illogical.) God the Son had a one-nature past and took on a second nature at the Incarnation. He no longer has just one nature. (There’s something else you can’t say about a timeless God. You can’t say He’s “no longer” something.)
And I’m not talking at all about interacting in time. I’m talking about God’s existence in heaven. Prior to the Incarnation, God the Son with just one nature sat at the right hand of the Father. There was no hypostatic union. And after the ascension, God the Son with two natures sits at the right hand of the Father.

TheSire, you are correct that the Son changed. You do realize that change is impossible with timelessness right? It appears you agree with me.
As to His divine nature not changing, who ever said that it did? Not me.

TheSire:

Why couldn’t the change of taking on a human nature be what philosopher refers to as a Cambridge changes? That’s external to the divine nature, so God’s human nature can stand in temporal relations to other things but his divine nature doesn’t.

Will Duffy:

TheSire, from Ryan Mullins’ book “The End of the Timeless God”:
God is timeless if and only if God exists (i) without beginning, (ii) without end, and (iii) without succession. To say that God exists without succession means that God does not do one thing, and then another.
God is temporal if and only if God exists (i) without beginning, (ii) without end, and (iii) with succession. The life of a temporal God is characterized by a succession of moments. In other words, a temporal God has a before and after in His life. He experiences one moment of time after another, just like we do. A timeless God does not experience one moment of time after another. Instead, a timeless God experiences His life all at once.

TheSire:

Alright, but this fails to take into account that Christ has two distinct natures. God qua his divinity does exist without succession. But the Son qua incarnation does remain in succession. Mullins’s argument remains unpersuasive.
He even has to involve “relative timelessness”. That is different from the idea that God is and always been temporal.

Will Duffy:

 TheSire, you are missing the point, and I’m not sure I can help anymore. Ryan Mullins is in this group if you’d like to discuss with him.
The fact that Christ obtained a second nature completely contradicts timelessness. No further discussion is even needed on the differences or state of said natures.

TheSire:

No offense, then it seems you aren’t dealing with my perspective. Take an author that inserts himself into his story. The events of the character in the story don’t change what constitutes the author outside the story. Secondly, I recommend then Dr. James Anderson:

Will Duffy:

If an author is not in a story and then enters into a story, that author is in time. A timeless author can’t go from not being in the story to bring in the story. Regardless, this has nothing to do with my argument. My argument is that a timeless God can’t change. A timeless God can’t add a nature, subtract a nature, add two natures, etc., etc., etc.

TheSire:

“if an author is not in a story and then enters into a story, that author is in time. A timeless author can’t go from not being in the story to bring in the story. Regardless, this has nothing to do with my argument. My argument is that a timeless God can’t change. A timeless God can’t add a nature, subtract a nature, add two natures, etc., etc., etc.”

I just think you’re missing the point about the author analogy. The point is the author does not share the same rules as the author in the story. That is just like when Christ is incarnate his divinity doesn’t need to change. My point with your “argument” is that it does deal with my Christology. You need to critique my position. I just don’t think you have successfully argued that a timeless God can’t do these things.

” My argument is simply that the Incarnation created a before and after for God, in which the divine nature (which did not change at all for purposes of this argument) became joined with a human nature. (Became is a change word.) The divine nature now has a past, present, and future.”

It doesn’t imply that. It could be the case that the person known as the Son stands in temporal relations via his incarnation. The Son via his incarnation has a past, present, and future. But that doesn’t imply he has such according to his divine nature. This is what is assumed but hardly proven.

Will Duffy:

I never said Christ’s divinity changed in the Incarnation. A hypostatic union, by definition, requires time. A nature by itself requires time in order to be joined to a second nature. That’s the change I’m referring to. Not that either nature changed. In order for a divine nature (or any nature for that matter) to be joined to another nature, which also was not previously joined to another nature, is a change that necessitates time.
Professor Richard Holland shows that no one in church history has dealt with this problem and conveniently ignored it whenever discussing God and time. Considering it’s been thousands of years, I think it’s obvious it was ignored intentionally. Now we have multiple books on the topic, bringing to light the problem and no books (to my knowledge) answering the problem. And trust me, I’ve looked. Richard Holland’s book is phenomenal and lays out the issue better than I could have ever dreamed. And it’s funny because I was working on the argument at the same time he was and we didn’t even know each other.

TheSire:

” In order for a divine nature (or any nature for that matter) to be joined to another nature, which also was not previously joined to another nature, is a change that necessitates time.”

A change to what? What does it mean for them to be “joined” these phrases pack some meaning to you that I may not agree with? The natures aren’t mixed but they are separate. Joining and change do require time. The Son timelessly instantiates a world and a history of events where he becomes a man. The Son is temporal given the incarnation. I don’t see why these changes are not simply indexed by the Son qua human. The Son may change but your argument is only persuasive if you can show the Son needs to change qua his Divinity. Anything less than that is unpersuasive.

I wish to also mention that it isn’t merely our position that has problems. Several issues exist within your view of God:
How do you account for the laws of the world? God obviously can’t create all the laws because since he is apart of the world he has no control over these abstract principles. Rather they define and make him what he is.
Secondly, if God can choose to be evil, then what grounds the holy, good, and just(Rom. 7) laws that he has given? It can’t be him, because he isn’t the standard of moral goodness because he can actually be evil in your view. It is the same reason for why humans can’t be the grounds for objective moral norms and obligations.
I find these issues more problematic than merely the issues regarding timelessness.