Monday, 16 May 2016

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Divine Simplicity as Negative Theology

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Divine Simplicity as Negative Theology

"In its negative function the doctrine of divine simplicity does not commit one to a specific construal of the trinitarian unity and aseity. It does not commit one, for example, to a Thomist understanding of the divine essence (God is his existence), as opposed to a Scotist understanding (God is infinite Being); nor does it automatically exclude Byzantine formulations of the distinction between the divine essence and energies. Nor does it render unsayable essential Christian assertions, such as the dogma of the Holy Trinity. What it does do is enable us to conceive God as God and not as a godlet or demiurge.

Hence we are not dealing here with an arcane piece of philosophical speculation irrelevant to the gospel. In his essay “The Simplicity of the Living God,” Christopher Franks protests the way contemporary philosophers and theologians have addressed the topic, the former treating it as a metaphysical conundrum, the latter as a non-biblical accretion. Both have failed to see how the doctrine flows from and undergirds a specifically Christian understanding of God as Creator and Redeemer: “Simplicity teaches us how to think about a God who is the fully Living One, the one who lives so fully and completely that this Life is uncontradictable. This God is the source of life for others, and precisely as cause of being, this God is fully free to create (or not to create), free even to enter into union with creation, even the intimate union of the Incarnation, without abandoning that Life” (p. 276)."

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