I’ve been in conversation with Jay Dyer and watching his debate with Erick Ybarra over the past few weeks on the Roman view of divine simplicity. Jay finally put his conclusions in one spot. This is why even when I backed off from EO for a season, I never could fully jump to Thomism.
True, Protestantism officially enshrines this view, but that’s only confessional Protestantism. This is one of those weird areas where Charismatics probably have the upper hand on divine simplicity. Think about it this way:
- Do you worship the divine glory or a created replica of the divine glory?
- Could those in Scripture who were said to see the glory actually see the glory, or did they see a hologram?
- Did you pray to the relations of oppositions yesterday?
Jay helpfully pointed out that when St Athanasius says the Son is the willing of the Father, and Gregory Palamas says manifestation of the divine love,
Concerning the eternal manifestation as distinct from the hypostatic origin, Meyendorff writes:
“Gregory Palamas proposed a similar interpretation of this relationship in a number of his works; in his Confession of 1351, for instance, he asserts that the Holy Spirit “has the Father as foundation, source, and cause,” but “reposes in the Son” and “is sent – that is, manifested – through the Son.” (ibid. 194) In terms of the transcendent divine energy, although not in terms of substance or hypostatic being, “the Spirit pours itself out from the Father through the Son, and, if you like, from the Son over all those worthy of it,” a communication which may even be broadly called “procession” (ekporeusis) (Apodeictic Treatise 1. Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory
Roman Catholic identifications.
The death knell to absolute divine simplicity is its identifying person, nature, and attribute.
- Denzinger says Augustine’s psychological predications are substantial. And then he says “he will is the Father, the will is the Son, the will is the Holy Spirit; just as God is the Father, God is the Son, God is the Holy Spirit and many other similar things,” (Denzinger sect. 296)
- Thus, Person = Attribute (in this case, the will), which in all Western theology = essence.
- Person = essence
- Relation of opposition. Sometimes Rome will say relations of origination, which is Cappadocian. But this only doubles their problem, for it takes one relation of origination (the monarchy of the Father) and applies it to the Son (in the Filioque). But on to relations of opposition: as Jay notes, any opposition can only result in a dyad, not a triad.
- St John of Damascus and the energies of Christ: Gods goodness is an energy or operation, not an attribute of an unknowable essence. Energy (energein) is something that does.
Simplicity applied to Christology
This is what the dialectical view leads to:
(1) All acts of God are exactly identical to the divine essence.
(2) The divine person of Christ either acts according to his divine energy or his human energy.
(2.1) His creating the world or walking on water is a result of the divine energy.
(3) Therefore, Christ’s creating the world = his walking on water.
Energies can be participated in, something impossible if they are identical to the divine essence: 1 Cor. 12:6 reads: “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” In the Greek it is: ”καὶ διαιρέσεις ἐνεργημάτων εἰσίν ὁ δὲ αὐτός ἐστιν θεός ὁ ἐνεργῶν τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν.”