Author Topic: Divine Simplicity  (Read 2760 times)

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Online Papist

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Divine Simplicity
« on: February 16, 2009, 01:50:52 PM »
I have often heard the charge that Western Theology adopted the idea that God is entirely simple from pagan philosophy. However I am starting to find evidence in the Church Fathers that this is simply not the case. I will begin with a quote from St. Iranaeus that demonstrates that the idea of divine simplicity was present among the Church Fathers. Throughout the next few days I will provide more quotes.
"Far removed is the Father of all from those things which operate among men, the affections and passions. He is simple, not composed of parts, without structure, altogether like and equal to himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason . . . all light, all fountain of every good, and this is the manner in which the religious and the pious are accustomed to speak of God" (St. Iraneaus, Against Heresies 2:13:3 [A.D. 189]).
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Divine Simplicity
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2009, 02:02:22 PM »
^^ In St. John of Damascus's "Exact exposition of the Orthodox faith," there is also a number of places where he speaks of God as "simple" (in that He cannot be divided into "parts"). The Greek word in these places is απλους. (BTW, those of you who know Greek: could you explain the semantics of this word?)
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Re: Divine Simplicity
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2009, 02:49:32 PM »
"But there is neither nor ever shall be such a dogma in the Church of God that would prove the simple and incomposite [God] to be not only manifold and variegated, but even constructed from opposites. The simplicity of the dogmas of the truth proposes God as he is" (Against Eunomius 1:1:222 [A.D. 382]). St. Gregory of Nyssa
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Divine Simplicity
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 03:10:48 PM »
Quote
I have often heard the charge that Western Theology adopted the idea that God is entirely simple from pagan philosophy.

Examples? :)
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Re: Divine Simplicity
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2009, 03:13:31 PM »
"[Paul] knows [God] in part. But he says, ‘in part,’ not because he knows God’s essence while something else of his essence he does not know; for God is simple. Rather, he says ‘in part’ because he knows that God exists, but what God is in his essence he does not know" (Against the Anomoians 1:5 [A.D. 386]). St. John Crysostom

Interestingly enough, St. Thomas Aquinas makes this same arguement.
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Re: Divine Simplicity
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2009, 03:13:32 PM »
Quote
I have often heard the charge that Western Theology adopted the idea that God is entirely simple from pagan philosophy.

Examples? :)
Its been a while since I have seen the charge but I remember seeing it is some articles dicussing the western view that God is simple vs. the eastern view that God is composed of essence and energies.
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Re: Divine Simplicity
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2009, 03:15:40 PM »
"For God is simple and non-composite and without shape" - St. John Crysostom (same source as teh last quote).
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