identical with the essence of God and with each other, is to deny that we know God at all.
The Scripture declarations of the possibility of knowing God, together with the manifestation of the distinct attributes of his nature, are conclusive against this false notion of the divine simplicity.
Aristotle says well that there is no such thing as a science of the unique, of that which has no analogies or relations. Knowing is distinguishing; what we cannot distinguish from other things we cannot know. Yet a false tendency to regard God as a being of absolute simplicity has come down from medieval scholasticism, has infected much of the post-reformation theology, and is found even so recently as in Schleiermacher, Rothe, Olshausen, and Ritschl. E.G. Robinson defines the attributes as ?our methods of conceiving of God.? But this definition is influenced by the Kantian doctrine of relativity and implies that we cannot know God?s essence, that is, the thing-in-itself, God?s real being. Bowne, Philosophy of Theism, 141 ? ?This notion of the divine simplicity reduces God to a rigid and lifeless stare? The One is manifold without being many.?
The divine simplicity is the starting point of Philo: God is a being absolutely bare of quality. All quality in finite beings has limitation, and no limitation can be predicated of God who is eternal, unchangeable, simple substance, free, self-sufficient, better than the good and the beautiful. To predicate any quality of God would reduce him to the sphere of finite existence. Of him we can only say that he is, not what he is; see art. by Schurer. in Encyc. Brit., 18:761.
Illustrations of this tendency are found in Scotus Erigena: ?Deus nescit se quid est, qula non est quid?; and in Occam: The divine attributes are distinguished neither substantially nor logically from each other or from the divine essence; the only distinction is that of names; so Gerhard and Quenstedt. Charnock, the Puritan writer, identifies both knowledge and will with the simple essence of God. Schleiermacher makes all the attributes to be modifications of power or causality; in his system God and world = the ?natura naturans? and ?natura naturata? of Spinoza. There is no distinction of attributes and no succession of acts in God, and therefore no real personality or even spiritual being; see Pfleiderer, Prot. Theol. seit Kant, 110. Schleiermacher said: ?My God is the Universe.? God is causative force. Eternity, omniscience and holiness are simply aspects of causality. Rothe, on the other hand, makes omniscience to be the all-comprehending principle of the divine nature; and Olshausen, on
<430101> John 1:1, in a similar manner attempts to prove that the Word of God
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