Friday, October 11, 2013

Hyperphysica in Protestant Dogmatics

Hyperphysica (from the Greek, ὑπερϕυσικὰ): hyperphysical; beyond the physical; a term applied to the eternal generation of the Son in order to emphasize the difference between divine and creaturely generation.  The term is also used by orthodox Lutherans to characterize the illocal presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. – Richard Muller

Johannes A. Marck (Reformed)

“Est Vera haec Generatio aeterna et hyperphysica, propria tamen, non metaphorica; et describitur ut aeterna ac incomprehensibilis ejusdem numero Divinae Essentiae communication, a Patre facta Filio, ex Col. i. 15. “qui est imago Dei invisibilis, primogenitus omnis creaturae.”  Heb. i.3.  ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ.  Col. Ii.9.  ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς, etc.”

This real generation is eternal and hyperphysical, yet genuine, not metaphorical; and is described as an eternal and incomprehensible communication the same in number of the divine essence, made from the Father to the Son.  Ex. Colossians 1:15 “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creatures.  Hebrews 1:3 “Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his hypostasis,” “Colossians 2:9 “For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” etc.

Johannes Maccovius (Reformed)

IV.  “Generatio quae in Deo est, non est physica sed hyperphysica.  Hinc liquet quam inepte argumentantu Sociniani, qui, ut tollant generationem quae est in Deo, argumenta sua proferre solent ex generatione physica; at haec nihil praeter nomen cum hyperphysica commune habet, ergo Argumentatio illorum non procedit.  Quod autem sit hyperphysica, liquet; quia Dues natura non est, sed aliquid supra naturam.”

IV.  The generation that is in God, is not physical but hyperphysical.  Hence it is clear how inept the argument of the Socinians is, who take the generation that is in God- their argument they usually bring forth is from physical generation- but this has nothing in common with the hyperphysical besides the name.  The argument of theirs, therefore, does not follow.  But that it is hyperphysical, it is evident, because God is not natural, but someone supernatural.

“V.  Generatio quae in Deo est, etsi sit hyperphysica, tamen non est metaphorica, sed proprie dicta.

Adversarii dicunt eam non proprie dictam esse generationem, qui non est generatio Physica.  At quam inepte, nam hic etiam dici posset, Deus non habet esse Physicu, Ergo, Deus non habet esse, proprie dictum.”

V.  The generation that is in God, although it may be hyperphysical, nevertheless is not metaphorical, but genuinely called.

Opponents say it is not genuinely stated to be a generation, which is not a physical generation.  But, how inept, for here too it might be said that God does not possess a physical being.  Therefore, God does not have being, genuinely stated.

Conrad Emil Lindberg (Lutheran)

“Generatio and also spiratio are described especially by the following negative and positive terms…non physica, sed hyperphysica, because the natural birth of man is not a real analogy, although the expression birth is the only relatively adequate human expression that can be used to set forth the activity of the Father in producing the Son.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Filioque in Boethius?

Was this doctrine in the western church this early (beginning of the sixth century)?

"It cannot be said that God became Father by the addition to His substance of some accident; for he never began to be Father, since the begetting of the Son belongs to His very substance; however, time predicate father, as such, is relative. And if we bear in mind all the propositions made God in the previous discussion, we shall admit that God the Son proceeded from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost from both, and that They cannot possibly be spatially different, since They are incorporeal."

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Origen on Platonic Ideas and the Renovated World

"Our Lord and Saviour also points out a certain other world besides this visible one, which it would indeed be difficult to describe and make known. He says, I am not of this world. For, as if He were of a certain other world, He says, I am not of this world. Now, of this world we have said beforehand, that the explanation was difficult; and for this reason, that there might not be afforded to any an occasion of entertaining the supposition that we maintain the existence of certain images which the Greeks call ideas: for it is certainly alien to our (writers) to speak of an incorporeal world existing in the imagination alone, or in the fleeting world of thoughts; and how they can assert either that the Saviour comes from thence, or that the saints will go there, I do not see. There is no doubt, however, that something more illustrious and excellent than this present world is pointed out by the Saviour, at which He incites and encourages believers to aim. But whether that world to which He desires to allude be far separated and divided from this either by situation, or nature, or glory; or whether it be superior in glory and quality, but confined within the limits of this world (which seems to me more probable), is nevertheless uncertain, and in my opinion an unsuitable subject for human thought."  - De Principiis Book 2, Chapter 3.6, emphasis mine

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Three Pinciples of Nature

Materia - the potential and determinable part of a composite, i.e., that from which something arises or of which it consists, synonym of subiectum ex quo, the opposite of forma.

Forma - the actualizing principle that makes a thing to be what it is, the opposite of materia.  In the ontological order it is the formal cause, the form-giving principle, and is very much the same as essentia, natura, quod quid erat esse, quidditas, species, and substantia; in the logical order it is species, idea, exemplar, and imago.  In the thought of St. Thomas, it is a concept of great variety and fecundity, and generally signifies actuality in contrast to the potentiality of matter, or determination of quality or kind in contrast to the indeterminancy of matter.  It is not something pre-existing, but is conceived of as being united with primary matter to constitute the substance of a thing.  Other forms, called accidental, then appear to clothe the substance with its predicamental accidents.  Some forms, the angels and human souls, exist independently of matter; but most forms disappear when the composite of which they are the principle of actual existence is dissolved.

Privatio - Lack of what should be present, synonym of defectus, the opposite of habitus and perfectio

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Johannes Maccovius - Theological Distinctions, Part I.I

Chapter I: Concerning Sacred Scripture

 I. The Word of God is received either as scripture and called the prophetic word, or as the Son of God, that it is, and is called the internal word ἔμφυτος, as John 1: 2, 3, 4.  That (former) word is the accidental word, this (latter) the essential.

1. Richard Muller in his dictionary of terms states the verbum internum is that “which testifies to the human heart concerning the truth of the written or external Word (verbum externum),” whereas to Maccovius, the internal word is referring to the Logos.

2. It is interesting that Maccovius uses the Prologue of John’s gospel as a reference to internal word, when the only time emphutos is found in scripture is 
in James (1:21).

3. I am not sure how the prophetic word is considered accidental, as “the word of the Lord endures forever.”  Perhaps he is referring to the medium of revelation, and not the revelation per se.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gregory Nazianzen on the Problem of Trinitarian Analogies

"I have very carefully considered this matter in my own mind, and have looked at it in every point of view, in order to find some illustration of this most important subject, but I have been unable to discover any thing on earth with which to compare the nature of the Godhead.  For even if I did happen upon some tiny likeness it escaped me for the most part, and left me down below with my example.  I picture to myself an eye*, a fountain, a river, as others have done before, to see if the first might be analogous to the Father, the second to the Son, and the third to the Holy Ghost.  For in these there is no distinction in time, nor are they torn away from their connexion with each other, though they seem to be parted by three personalities.  But I was afraid in the first place that I should present a flow in the Godhead, incapable of standing still; and secondly that by this figure a numerical unity would be introduced.  For the eye and the spring and the river are numerically one, though in different forms." St. Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 31, Chapter 31, emphasis mine.  *note: eye = source

Hmm, I wonder what Greg would think of the Cerberus analogy.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hugo Grotius on John 17:3

3. and this is eternal life]  In this it is placed; prepared in this way.  A Metonymy, as above 6:63, 11:25, 12:50, 14:6.  Similar kind of speech – Romans 11:12.

that they may know you the one true God]  This ἵνα is εἰδιϰὸν [specificative].  For it is described a manner of prepared eternal life, which such is that the glory of God the Father chiefly may be viewed.  Γινὠσϰειν this will be understood πραϰτιϰῶς [active], that 1:10, that they may know, be embraced, cultivate, and may revere you the only God, excluding all them who had introduced the falsehoods of the nations*.  Ignatius speaking to the Magnesians concerning Jesus: “who having been thrust to the multitude of gods has declared the one and only God his Father. “  In the Constitutions of Clement to the converts from the gentiles: "For you are translated from your former vain and tedious mode of life and have contemned the lifeless idols, and despised the demons, which are in darkness, and have run to the true light, and by it have known the one and only true God and Father, and so are owned to be heirs of His kingdom."  See 1 Thessalonians 1:9

And Jesus Christ whom you have sent]  Thinking of himself modestly he speaks in the third person.  The sense is, "and that they may know me as your envoy."  In this voice he shows himself honor retained to return to the Father.  For the interest of the King is that the envoy may be honored.

*Persuasio (nominative noun meaning persuasion) is used, but I could not figure out how to fit in the sentence.

Bible Study Tools translation of Ignatius to the Magnesians: “and to those who had fallen into the error of polytheism He made known the one and only true God, His Father.”

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Maccovius' distinction on the Son

"II.  The Son is from the Father by reason of manner of subsistence in essence, not by reason of essence

It is an excellent distinction with theology where it is said, the Son is not autoousios but autotheos.  It must be known a great disputation arose between the Arminians, Vorstius and our churches, because the Arminians and Vorstius were declaring the Son to be from the Father with respect to essence, and thus not autotheon - God from himself: which if so, is depending God, therefore a creature." - Johannes Maccovius, Restored Work, Chapter 5, Concerning God the Father

It would seem that Maccovius agrees with the ancient church that the Son receives his essence from the Father (not autoousios), and his only objection to the Arminians is over the term autotheos.  Two things: 
1.  I think Arminius' clarification on what Autotheos means is helpful (see this post).  
2.  I don't believe his argument stating that the Son would be a creature if not autotheos is conclusive.  The Father is "dependent" on the Son in order to be a Father.  Does this mean he is also a creature?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What is Tritheism?

The following is from Joseph Bingham's (in)famous sermon on the Trinity that got him booted from Oxford in 1695.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Libertarian Calvinists?

In dialog four of his book, Coffeehouse Compatibilism, Lahm makes a few assertions in regards to human freedom:

1. One cannot be spiritually free if one is not already libertarianly free.

2. Libertarian freedom does not imply a Pelagian view of grace.

3. Scriptures that speak of man’s inability are not related to the issue of libertarian freedom, but rather a spiritual freedom.  There is a distinction to be made.

Now, I would like to argue that Lahm’s view of Libertarian freedom and distinction from spiritual freedom is actually in agreement with the reformed tradition!  Well, at least it was.  By the way, Lahm defines libertarian freedom as one who possesses “control [over] their actions and have real alternative possibilities before them (p. 73).”

His distinction is actually quite common in reformed scholastic thought.  Let us quickly examine a few big players:

William Twisse (The Five Points of Grace)
"It is utterly untrue that any of our divines, of my knowledge, say that by the sin of Adam, his whole posterity hath lost their free will; In the time of my minority in the University, in divinity disputations we heard concerning free will such a distinction as this of common course. The actions of men are either natural or moral, or spiritual; the resolution of the truth, as touching free will, according to the foresaid distinction, was this: we have not lost our free will, in actions natural, nor in actions moral, but only in actions spiritual, so that the natural man perceiveth not the things of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2.14). And the affection of the flesh is enmity unto God, for it is not subject to the law of God nor can be (Rom. 8.7,8). So that they which are in the flesh cannot please God."

John Gill (The Cause of God and Truth)
"The distinction between the natural and moral liberty of the will is of great service in this controversy; though these two are artfully confounded together; and because the one is denied by us, it is concluded that the other is also; whereas we affirm, that the natural liberty of the will is essential to it, and always abides with it in every action and in every state of life. A wicked man, in the highest degree of servitude to sin, his will acts as freely in this state of bondage as Adam's will did in obedience to God, in a state of innocence; but the moral liberty of the will is not essential to it, though it adds to the glory and excellency of it; and therefore may and may not be with it, without any violation to, or destruction of, the natural liberty of the will. The moral liberty of the will to that; which is good was with Adam in a state of innocence; this was lost by the fall; hence man in a state of corruption and unregencracy is destitute of it; in the regenerate state it is implanted in the will by the Spirit and grace of God, and in the state of glorification will be in its full perfection; so that the controversy ought to be not about the natural, but moral liberty of the will, and not so much about free-will itself, as the strength and power of it."

John Owen (A Display of Arminianism)
"We grant man, in the substance of all his actions, as much power, liberty, and freedom as a mere created nature is capable of. We grant him to be free in his choice from all outward coaction, or inward natural necessity, to work according to election and deliberation, spontaneously embracing what seemeth good unto him. Now, call this power free-will, or what you please, so you make it not supreme, independent, and boundless, we are not at all troubled. The imposition of names depends upon the discretion of their inventers. Again; even in spiritual things, we deny that our wills are at all debarred, or deprived of their proper liberty: but here we say, indeed, that we are not properly free until the Son makes us free"

In their respective treatments, all three of these Calvinists make the same type of distinction Lahm does in regards to freedom.  Gill even stated that the natural freedom of the will is essential to the moral.  The terms and divisions might be different, but there is an understanding of a natural freedom that man possesses.

At the end of his book, Lahm's states that he hopes Calvinists will abandon their deterministric/compatibilistic views, because they are not biblical (p. 80).  It is my opinion that the men quoted above would agree with him.  So, when  did Calvinistic thought change?  I suggest you listen to this lecture on Jonathan Edwards by reformed historian Dr. Richard Muller.  Oh, and go buy Lahm's book.  Perhaps you will find agreement with his conclusions.

Audio: "Jonathan Edwards and the Absence of Free Choice: A Parting of Ways in the Reformed Tradition"

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fr. John Behr - Romans 9:5

Quoted from The Way to Nicea:

From the earliest of the New Testament writings, the title “God,” with an article, is applied almost exclusively to the Father, and often used to differentiate between God himself and Jesus Christ, who is designated Lord.  So, for instance, in a formula typical of Paul, he refers to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:6).  An important text, emphasizing the uniqueness of these respective designations is 1 Corinthians 8:6:

For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and unto whom we exist, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
This affirmation that there is one God, the Father, the monothesistic heart of Christianity, and one Lord Jesus Christ, who does all the things that God himself does, so demonstrating that he is as divine as the Father, is the basic pattern for all subsequent creedal affirmations: I believe in one God the Father … and in one Lord Jesus Christ.

There are, however, several statements in Paul and the other letters, which might be read as describing Jesus as God (ὁ θεός), though in each case it is not a deliberate, unambiguous affirmation, but depends upon texts which are problematic in various ways, either in their grammar and translation or in establishing the correct text itself.  Ultimately, locating such passages is not the key to understanding the New Testament’s affirmation of the divinity of Christ, but it is nevertheless, important to establish, as accurately as possible, whether it ever used the articular “theos” for Jesus Christ.  The most important passage outside the Johannine literature is Romans 9:5:

Such is the clause in its unpunctuated form; and the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament are without any systematic punctuation.  If a comma is placed after the word “flesh” (as the United Bible Society, 4th ed. And Nestle-Aland, 27th ed.), then the articular “theos” is referred back to Christ; if it is to be a period (as the RSV, giving the alternative in a note), then a distinction is introduced between the Christ and the God who is over all.  The sentence, however, would have been written without punctuation, and so it is the grammar of the passage which must decide.  Here there are several considerations.  If the verse were to end with a separate doxology, the word “blessed” would typically come first: “Blessed be the God of all…”  Moreover, doxologies in Paul tend to refer to someone who has been mentioned earlier, in this case Christ; as “the God” is not mentioned until the end of the verse, it would be awkward to read it as referring to someone other than Christ.  Moreover, if the doxology is not addressed to Christ, the participle, “being” (ὢν), is redundant.  Finally, the words “according to the flesh” seem to require a parallel; usually in Paul the contrast would be “according to the Spirit,” though there are places where flesh is contrasted with “theos” (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:29).  Overall, then, it seems probable that in Romans 9:5, Paul called Christ God (ὁ θεός), though it is the only such passage.

Thoughts on Coffeehouse Compatibilism - Intro

Calvin and Skinner and Wesley, Oh My!
I have recently finished reading Coffeehouse Compatibilism by David Lahm, and would like to provide some thoughts on portions of it in subsequent posts following this brief introduction.

CC is a short book that discusses the three philosophical positions regarding the issue of human freedom: determinism, compatibilism and libertarian freedom.  David presents the basics of each theory in the form of dialogues between historical figures on the issue (Skinner, Calvin, Wesley), as well as gives the reader his reasons for accepting/rejecting their respective positions through the arguments each person makes during these dialogues.  Lastly, and most importantly, David devotes the final two segments of the book to the Christian experience, arguing for what position he believes scripture is clear on.  If you are unfamiliar with these issues and would like to know more, I highly recommend this book as a primer.

Coffeehouse Compatibilism at Amazon

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sonship as Divine Ontology in Johannes Cocceius

From the section "Concerning Divine Persons:"

10.  The Father is the only true God; because in himself is the only true Godhead.  But his true Godhead is not recognized by them, who deny him to be true and natural Father.  And indeed the predicate only true God is not attributed to the Father in opposition of the Son and Spirit.

11.  Both the Son and Holy Spirit are autotheos - John 5:26

12.  Jesus is not called Son by conception of the virgin, neither by sanctity of human nature, neither from other causes, but only because of eternal generation.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gregory addresses John 17:3 and Luke 18:19

Here Gregory of Nazianzus is replying to a Eunomian argument of the monotheistic passages in the NT.  Note - in the last argument, he quotes the book of Baruch, which was found in the Septuagint:

"The eighth passage is,

"That they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent"


"There is none good save one, that is, God."

The solution of this appears to me very easy.  For if you attribute this only to the Father, where will you place the Very Truth?  For if you conceive in this manner of the meaning of To the only wise God, or Who only hath Immortality, Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, or of to the king of the Ages, immortal, invisible, and only wise God, then the Son has vanished under sentence of death, or of darkness, or at any rate condemned to be neither wise nor king, nor invisible, nor God at all, which sums up all these points.  And how will you prevent His Goodness, which especially belongs to God alone, from perishing with the rest?  I, however, think that the passage That they may know Thee the only true God, was said to overthrow those gods which are falsely so called, for He would not have added and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent, if The Only True God were contrasted with Him, and the sentence did not proceed upon the basis of a common Godhead.

The “None is Good” meets the tempting Lawyer, who was testifying to His Goodness viewed as Man.  For perfect goodness, He says, is God’s alone, even if a man is called perfectly good.  As for instance, A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things.  And, I will give the kingdom to one who is good above Thee.…Words of God, speaking to Saul about David.  Or again, Do good, O Lord, unto the good…and all other like expressions concerning those of us who are praised, upon whom it is a kind of effluence from the Supreme Good, and has come to them in a secondary degree.  It will be best of all if we can persuade you of this.  But if not, what will you say to the suggestion on the other side, that on your hypothesis the Son has been called the only God.  In what passage?  Why, in this:—This is your God; no other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him, and a little further on, after this did He shew Himself upon earth, and conversed with men.  This addition proves clearly that the words are not used of the Father, but of the Son; for it was He Who in bodily form companied with us, and was in this lower world.  Now, if we should determine to take these words as said in contrast with the Father, and not with the imaginary gods, we lose the Father by the very terms which we were pressing against the Son.  And what could be more disastrous than such a victory?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gregory's Oration on the Son

Gregory - Oration 29:

"The three most ancient opinions concerning God are Anarchia, Polyarchia, and Monarchia.  The first two are the sport of the children of Hellas, and may they continue to be so.  For Anarchy is a thing without order; and the Rule of Many is factious, and thus anarchical, and thus disorderly.  For both these tend to the same thing, namely disorder; and this to dissolution, for disorder is the first step to dissolution.  But Monarchy is that which we hold in honour.  It is, however, a Monarchy that is not limited to one Person, for it is possible for Unity if at variance with itself to come into a condition of plurality; but one which is made of an equality of Nature and a Union of mind, and an identity of motion, and a convergence of its elements to unity—a thing which is impossible to the created nature—so that though numerically distinct there is no severance of Essence.  Therefore Unity having from all eternity arrived by motion at Duality, found its rest in Trinity.  This is what we mean by Father and Son and Holy Ghost.  The Father is the Begetter and the Emitter; without passion of course, and without reference to time, and not in a corporeal manner.  The Son is the Begotten, and the Holy Ghost the Emission; for I know not how this could be expressed in terms altogether excluding visible things.  For we shall not venture to speak of “an overflow of goodness,” as one of the Greek Philosophers dared to say, as if it were a bowl overflowing, and this in plain words in his Discourse on the First and Second Causes.  Let us not ever look on this Generation as involuntary, like some natural overflow, hard to be retained, and by no means befitting our conception of Deity.  Therefore let us confine ourselves within our limits, and speak of the Unbegotten and the Begotten and That which proceeds from the Father, as somewhere God the Word Himself saith."

Note the following:

1. There is a monarchy within the Godhead, but it is "not limited to one person."
2. There is no mention of a second principle vis-a-vis the Spirit, but rather the focus is on the Father as the sole source.
3. There is a generation/procession of the will of God, but within bounds of the Creator/Creature distinction, unlike Arius.  This is contrasted with platonic generation
4. The second person of the Trinity is referred to as "God the Word."