A Further Example of the Importance of Divine Simplicity

My comment: “God is not “driven by” wrath – wrath is an attribute of God’s nature.”

CMP: No, wrath is a response of another attribute, namely righteousness. But that is not really the point of this post.

Jugulum: I actually agree w/him on “wrath”. Wrath isn’t an attr. because God’s wouldn’t be wrathful if he hadn’t created. God was/is/will-be eternally holy/righteous, which includes the trait, “I will be wrathful toward sin”. You might call that a “attr. of wrath”, but I think that was the distinction CMP was making. Similarly, God wasn’t eternally merciful, apart from a sinful creation. Mercy & wrath are expressions of his eternal attributes.

Recall this post: Divine Simplicity and Malformed Arguments.

This is another good example of why we must keep ALL of God’s attributes in mind, when formulating our theology – even on the internet. What does this point of view entail? First, that God changed. That He is not immutable. In this view, God began to be wrathful (or merciful). In this view, God’s wrath is not eternal, toward sin, nor is His mercy towards sinners eternal. Did God enter the temporal realm at a certain point in time, and thereby become successive, changeable, and non-eternal? If not, this view does not, and cannot, hold water. Similarly to when we say, as Athanasius said contra the Arians, that “there was never a time when the Son was not” – we must say that there was a never a time God’s wrath was not. God is not temporal, folks. God is not changeable, and God “is not a man, that He should change His mind”.

Hear me – I understand the distinction being made by CMP and Jugulum. However – the consequences of this view are utterly unacceptable. What God does, He eternally purposed to do. God’s righteousness is eternal, yes – but His wrath, since He is Eternal, is necessarily eternal wrath. Jer 10:10 – “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.” Or take this – Deu 32:40-41 – “Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, And say, as I live forever, If I sharpen My flashing sword, And My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, And I will repay those who hate Me.”

As Charnock says, and as I used in my class for our 1st-6th graders recently – “Though God be least in their thoughts, and is made light of in the world, yet the thoughts of God’s eternity, when he comes to judge the world, shall make the slighters of him tremble. That the Judge and punisher lives forever, is the greatest grievance to a soul in misery, and adds an inconceivable weight to it, above what the infiniteness of God’s executive power could do without that duration. His eternity makes the punishment more dreadful than his power; his power makes it sharp, but his eternity renders it perpetual; ever to endure, is the sting at the end of every lash. And how sad is it to think that God lays his eternity as a security for the punishment of obstinate sinners… a reward proportioned to the greatness of their offences, and the glory of an eternal God!”

As to mercy, think on this – “And {He did so} to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,” – Rom 9:23. We’re all Calvinists here, right? Are not God’s decrees eternal? This is an eternal decree of mercy, folks. Not to mention Rom 9:22 – “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” Now, I’m aware of CMP’s comments in this vein – but I’m not convinced there is anything different in the “timing” of the preparation, there. God’s decrees are eternal. You do notice, I hope, that it undermines Jugulum’s idea that mercy is also a reaction to man’s actions. As Calvinists, we must be careful not to think that God’s eternal decrees are subject to the actions of men – or consequent to them. If God is Sovereign, He is utterly Sovereign.

I’m not really concerned with commenting on CMP’s main article – TurretinFan already did so, much more ably than I could have. I was concerned with the explanation offered by CMP, and then Jugulum for the wrath of God; and Jugulum’s further extrapolation to mercy. If God is eternal, than His attributes are necessarily eternal. To say otherwise brings about serious exegetical and apologetic issues.

RazorsKiss

RazorsKiss


9 Comments

rey

“Wrath isn’t an attr.” Its an emotion. Wrath is just a fancy word for anger. And its funny how those who say God is impassible (beyond feeling emotions) are the ones who most maximize God’s wrath, going so far as to make it an attribute of his very being.

“What God does, He eternally purposed to do. God’s righteousness is eternal, yes – but His wrath, since He is Eternal, is necessarily eternal wrath.”

That sounds rather silly. You can’t be eternal without eternally having the same emotion all the time? Palease. Such worthless human philosophizing that spoils men after the elementary spirits of the world and not after Christ.

“If God is Sovereign, He is utterly Sovereign.”

And if the Supreme Sovereign sovereignly determines to give man free will (and he has), then he is sovereignly able to do so. And he has done so, and sovereignly at that.

(RK: streamlined comments into one)

BK

“And if the Supreme Sovereign sovereignly determines to give man free will (and he has), then he is sovereignly able to do so. And he has done so, and sovereignly at that.”

Do you believe, then, that God is not utterly sovereign?

To whatever extent God has given man free (free, as in outside of his sovereign decree) will, he is not sovereign. More to the point, if a given choice of man is entirely due to his autonomous, self-determination, and God plays no determining role in it, then God is not sovereign in that choice, as he is exercising no authority/control over it.

RazorsKiss

Interesting assumption. Do you really think that we consider “wrath” an emotion when God is in view?

C.L. Bolt

Where does Scripture say that God has given man free will?

What is free will? I understand that man has a will, but what does it mean to say that it is free? I seem quite controlled in my ability to type right now precisely because my will is not free.

Mitchell LeBlanc

As I outline in my article: http://urbanphilosophy.net/philosophy/possible-worlds-and-christian-theism-pt-2/

There is a difference between the notions of ‘logically’ prior and ‘temporally’ prior that I don’t think RK has taken into consideration. To be sure we must inquire as to whether or not RK views divine eternity as timelessness. If he does indeed view it as such, I think there are some interesting philosophical issues which arise. Though, I suspect this view may be his motivation for his particular brand of divine immutability.

So while there may not be a ‘time’ when God was X, that is not to say that logically prior to God’s Y, X.

I also think that rey is incorrect in saying that wrath is not an attribute, I think ‘wrathfulness’ can be such an attribute. The question is whether or not it is coherent to state that logically prior to God’s actualization of the world, God exemplified wrath. Of course, this does not mean that at the logical point of creation God somehow acquires wrath from an outside source, but presumably his nature consists of a potentiality for all things.

RazorsKiss

“God is not temporal, folks.” I would take that to mean that I think God is timeless. Do I get 4 posts on that now? 🙂 I’ve said it a *bunch* previously.

Mitchell LeBlanc

The term “not temporal” has been used to mean timelessness as well as omnitemporality and that is why it was important to discern which meaning you were using.

You also didn’t address the rest of my comment. Even under a timeless view of God the notion of “logical priority” does not go away. That is to say there is no contradiction in saying that logically prior to the creation of the human race, God did not exemplify wrath. If there is such a contradiction, I don’t see it.

You said: “Do I get 4 posts on that now?”

Text really isn’t the best method to convey sarcasm but I think this comment was meant to be snarky. I really don’t see the need to be sarcastic. If you have no desire to engage with any criticisms I post then you can do as you have done and simply not answer them.

That being said, I do think there are problems with the view of eternity you are proposing. The first, perhaps most obvious is the seeming absurdity of a tenseless being knowing tensed facts and the impact of this absurdity on divine omniscience. However, I suspect that you would not wish to address any such criticism even if I did author an article on the subject.

But with relevance to the topic at hand:

You said: “we must say that there was a never a time God’s wrath was not”

You have yet to show that there is some contradiction in the idea that logically prior to creation God did not exemplify wrath. Further and less relevant to this discussion, but relevant to the notions at hand, I feel your lack of showing such an inconsistency also plagues your “Attributal Argument” as I’ve noted in the linked paper in the previous comment.

Propitiation, Wrath and Substitution

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Propitiation, Wrath, and Substitution :RazorsKiss.net

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