Pannenberg, Systematic Theology vol 2

Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Systematic Theology volume 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991. Translated by Geoffrey Bromiley.

(His name is pronounced “Volf-hart,” not “Wolf-Heart.” He is not a character in a Twilight fan fiction).

What would a Christology from below look like if it were written by someone who also affirms the eternal pre-existence of the Logos? Pannenberg gives us an idea. This volume covers the standard loci one would find in volume 2 of a three volume dogmatics (anthropology, sin, possibly Christology).

His methodology is most obvious in how he approaches the doctrine of Christ. He doesn’t begin with Chalcedonian formulations and then from those deductions, also affirm particularities like the resurrection. Rather, he begins, as with the apostles, “with what our hands have handled and eyes have seen, the Word of Life.” The apologetic value of such a move is enormous.

This book is quite difficult and is not intended for anything under grad school level readings. You are in the presence of a master who has read almost everything on everything. This is the type of theological reflection you did not find in North America until quite recently.

Pannenberg pushes back on the axiom that all outward acts of the Trinity are indivisible. He says it is a postulate from an extreme view of divine simplicity. The problem is that “the scriptures speak quite freely and expressly of a variety of divine acts….These can be summed up in a collective plural” (Pannenberg 8).

Refiguring Hegel

Hegel erred in seeing the Son as the emergence of finitude from the Absolute. This made creation logically necessary, since the Infinite must produce the Finite. WP argues that if we see the life of the Trinity in terms of mutual relations we can avoid this problem. Self-distinction for the persons is a condition of their fellowship in the divine life (29).

We see the idea of the world’s contingency in the Father’s preservation of it in providence. He has a disappointing take on evolution, since he agrees with it. But aside from that, he raises an obvious point that Darwin missed: Darwin operated under the strange assumption that creation meant God created every instance of variety all at once. WP shows there is no reason to believe that, as creation manifests a sequence of forms.

The Spirit of God

Spirit is Life-Giving breath of God (Ezek. 37.9, p. 78).

Spirit as Field and Force

“Classical dynamics tried to trace the concept of force back to that of the body and impulses that move it, and in this way to base all physics on the body and the relations between bodies” (79).

We are now able to move away from inertial views of force and closer to something like the Bible’s view. Per Leibniz, force (or its manifestation) is not linked to bodies but to spatial points. Per Faraday, bodies themselves are forms of forces.

Drawing upon his insights in ST 1, WP argues that our view of God-as-Spirit shouldn’t be read in a Middle Platonic nous, but the Spirit of God as a dynamic field that is structured in “Trinitarian fashion, so that the person of the Holy Spirit is one of the personal concretions of the essence of God as Spirit in distinction from the Father and Son….The Person of the Holy Spirit is not himself to be understood as the field but as a unique manifestation (singularity) of the field of divine essentiality” (83).

Personal Unity of Body and Soul

WP urges that we are psychosomatic unities, rather than two juxtaposed essences. So he rejects substance dualism, which is a problem, but he also refuses to reduce the soul to the body, unlike tendencies of some at Calvin College.

He argues that the soul is deeply rooted in the body (182). I agree. In older language we would say the body “traduces” the soul. He begins with Genesis 2:7. We are ensouled bodies, a nephesh hayya.

What is a Spirit

WP is very clear that spirit/Spirit means vital creative force, not merely intellect (185). Whenever we have ruach, we are alive. If God were to withhold his ruach (Job 34:14ff), we would die. Further, a ruach or a pneuma is not the independent creaturely station. While Paul does speak of human beings as spirit, soul, body, he makes several moves which prove difficult for seeing spirit as soul.

The Image of God

WP gives a thorough survey of “image-theology” in post-Reformation history. His unique insight is that a theology of the image of God must be linked to human destiny. This avoids certain conceptual pitfalls in both the Patristics and Post-Reformation thinkers. It also has a Christological thrust to it.

The Method of Christology

WP gives a rough outline of his “Christology from below.”

  1. The historical Jesus is the starting point for all Christological statements about his person (279-280).
  2. Any such historical presentation would also have a systemic character (283). This assumes an inner relation between Jesus himself and the apostolic proclamation of Jesus.
  3. Any talk of resurrection must be about the historicity of the resurrection, and not nonsense about the “faith-dimension” of it.
  4. While this is a Christology from below, the “material primacy belongs to the eternal Son” (289).

The Economy of Christ

The particularity of Jesus is the origin of a new human image, per 1 Cor. 15:49ff (Pannenberg 295). The link lies in the eschatological event of the death of Christ.

The Deity of Jesus

WP notes that the church’s rejoicing over Jerusalem’s destruction (as perhaps in modern preterism) forgets Jesus’s own weeping over it, as well as Paul’s ministry. It also the future restoration (342).

The Case for the Resurrection

  1. The starting point for the work of Christ must be the in-breaking of God’s kingdom (329).
  2. Those who believe in them have this future already.
  3. It is much more difficult methodologically to begin with Jesus’s own understood authority for his message, for then we are faced with the problem of why he kept it a secret for most of the time (338).
  4. The Resurrection of Jesus forms the starting point of the apostolic message (343ff). The Easter-event determines the pre-Easter message.
  5. Metaphorical language was necessary because this was a unique event.
  6. The Resurrection is a Jewish concept.
  7. WP starts with the biblical material relating to the Lord’s appearance to Saul (354), as it is the earliest testimony. Saul’s testimony also links the resurrection and ascension. The disciples also accepted Saul’s testimony, which means they saw it as similar to their own experiences.
  8. The earliest critics of the Resurrection acknowledged the empty tomb. The debated question was what it meant.
  9. If there were no empty tomb, the Christian message couldn’t have spread (modus tollens).

The Christological Development of the Identity of Jesus with God

WP wants to link the pre-existence statements to those of exaltation

Thesis: “The relation of the Son to the Father is characterized in eternity by the subordination to the Father by the self-distinction from the majesty of the Father, which took historical form in the human relation of Jesus to God” (377). Jesus’s participation in the attributes is “mediated by the self-distinction of Jesus from the Father in the course of his earthly history” (387).

Dabney, Discussions vol 3

I reject what Dabney says on race.  He is wrong.  He’s also wrong on the Lord’s Supper.  I am simply reviewing this as it is part of a key moment in 19th Century American life.

We remember Dabney as a follower of Common Sense Realism.  This volume is best seen as an application of that philosophy. It spans anthropology, theology, social ethics, logic, and philosophy proper.  

Anthropology

Calvinists mean by “will” the whole subjective activities.  This includes disposition and subjective desires, both of which lead to volition (III: 221).  The important point for Dabney is that volition–the act of willing–must be cause or influenced by something.  The Calvinist finds the proximate cause in our disposition and subjective desires.

While he doesn’t expand the point, Dabney’s comments show that Calvinists do not believe that the will is corrupt.  Rather, “‘corruption of will’…means rather the conative movements preceding volition, rather than volition itself” (281). 

 Dabney reduces–and clarifies–Edwards’ argument to this:  Motives determine volitions.  But what are motives? The soul’s subjective desire is spontaneous.   As Dabney points out concerning the word “necessity:” if we suppose that the subject motive is present, the volition will not fail to rise (238).  Well then, does that mean we believe in “free will” after all?  Not quite.  The will may indeed act spontaneously, but the intellect directs it (237).  This isn’t fatalism because an intellect’s directing the will is another way of saying that the action isn’t random and mindless.

This discussion explains effectual calling and regeneration: In regeneration God efficiently produces the holy disposition which regulates, concurrent with a renewed intellect (acts as proximate cause), man’s volitions (227).

Common Sense Realism

While he doesn’t have a chapter on Common Sense Realism, he does helpfully define its basics in his last chapter.  He notes, “We have found that whenever we see properties we must believe in substances to which the mind refers these properties.  Wherever we see action going on we must believe in substantive agents” (575).  The strength of CSR is the conclusions one draws from negating it:  “If I were to doubt my own consciousness, I should have to doubt everything else, because everything I know is known to me only through the medium of this consciousness” (574-575).  Thus, CSR is not a set of neutral principles, pace the Van Tillian, but rather a mode of knowing.  

Social Ethics

We are quick to reject Dabney on slavery, but we must be careful that in rejecting his view on slavery, we do not fall prey to Jacobinism (atheistic French Revolution). His larger question:  “What is the moral ground of my obligation to obey the magistrate, whom yesterday, before he was inducted to office, I would have scorned to recognize as my master, to whom today I must bow in obedience” (302)? There are several answers to this question:  Hobbesianism (I must obey any official simply because he is an official), social contract theory, and biblical theory.

  The Hobbesian theory rests on incoherent presuppositions.  If “Bob” is my master today, but he is usurped by “Jim” tomorrow (which action most would call sinful, per Romans 13), then Jim is the divinely ordained master.  Repeat ad infinitum.  While I may have to give Bob-Jim obedience for conscience’s sake, it is obvious that if two contradictory men, both of whom claim post facto legitimacy, neither can claim the moral high ground.  There is no moral foundation. Thus, Hobbesianism is morally bankrupt.  

Dabney deals likewise with Social Contract Theory.  Before we continue with infidel theories, Dabney has an interesting and challenging discussion of church and state.  He gives a solid criticism of the 19th century Scottish church:  when you accept government money, you have to accept the conditions the government lays down for having the money (325).  

Unlimited Rights Incompatible with Scripture

The Jacobin theory of rights asserts that no one in society may have a right and privilege that the other doesn’t have and you cannot impute the consequences of one to the other (and the reasoning is the same:  one man cannot be “above” the other in representing him).  

Dabney, following the Larger Catechism (Q. 124), says that we have obligations to inferiors, superiors, and equals.  Our functions and privileges differ, but the same law protects our common rights (Dabney 499).  We have different relations within society.  

Even more embarrassing for modern man, “God distributed the franchises unequally in the Hebrew commonwealth” (504).  And all of this leads Dabney to his comments on slavery.  We might not like them, but we must deal with what the Bible says. 

Even more, the Hebrew commonwealth has those who are neither domestic slaves nor fully enfranchised citizens.  Is that unjust? Dabney continues with a few more reductios.

Conclusion

This is not easy reading, but the essays do follow a logical pattern.   While we may not accept all of his conclusions, this is a remarkable snapshot of cultural life in the postbellum South.

Hobbes: Leviathan

Leviathan

In the beginning of his treatise Hobbes stays very close to the “Received Tradition.” He does make some troubling moves, though, and quite subtlely. He rejects the idea of a “Summum Bonum.” His definition of natural law leaves out any reference to the eternal law or the mind of God. He views liberty as a zero-sum game.

Key themes:

Anthropology: Hobbes begins with anthropology, and his politics are logical inferences from it. Hobbes defines a “Body” as that which occupies space. Substance is matter, synonymous with body. The soul is simply the body living. He specifically rejects the idea that the soul is distinct from the body (639). Hobbes has defined man in purely material terms.

Not surprisingly, Hobbes rejects free agency. Liberty and necessity are the same thing: what a man does he freely does. Yet every act of man has a desire, and so a cause. And from that another cause, all the way back to the First Cause. This appears to be Jonathan Edwards’ view as well.

Social Contract: before the institution of the commonwealth, every man had a right to everything and by any means to preserve his own (354). This means that the State can never make an unjust law.
P1: Justice is when two agree to an exchange (if you didn’t agree, you wouldn’t do the exchange).
P2: You agreed to invest the state with authority (social contract).
________________
Therefore, any law the state makes automatically has your agreement.

Zero-Sum ethics: Hobbes holds that what is mine cannot be yours; if the state has liberty, then the subject to that degree cannot. Since there is no summum bonum, there can be no sharing in the ultimate good. This, plain and simple, is the economics of Hell. Hobbes is not a pure capitalist, though. He argues elsewhere against private charity and for state welfare (387).

Religious Persecution

Hobbes argues that religious persecution is impossible, since 1) the state can’t do wrong, and 2) only martyrs can be persecuted. Further (2a) a person can only be a martyr if they have seen the risen Jesus, which rules out everyone after the Apostle John. Therefore, no one today can be a martyr. Keep in mind that thousands of Scottish Covenanters were being butchered on the basis of Hobbes’ argument. This reminds me of a time at RTS when a local Reformed pastor came in the book store and told me that he held to Hobbes’s view of the state. I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to end up in a FEMA camp.

Critique

My critique will follow Dabney’s (The Sensualistic Philosophy, pp. 15-20). Hobbes has to pay a high price for his materialism. If everything reduces to sensation, then whence come numbers, mind, any correspondence between my mind and the external world, all a priori judgments, logic, and abstract entities?

If everything is sensation, then what unites the sensations? (Hume’s famous line “a bundle of sensations”) Hobbes would have to answer yet another sensation. But what unites that sensation to the previous sensations? Ad infinitum. If Hobbes bites the bullet and rejects the need for a unity, then he needs to give up concepts like identity (and probably the concept of “concept” itself). This is the fatal consequence in rejecting philosophical realism. Hobbes is split between the One and the Many. His power-state collapses everything into the One, yet his nominalism reduces everything to an aggregate of an unconnected Many.

Conclusion

I give the book 1 star for its demonic content and 5 stars for its influence. Indeed, rebutting Hobbes is like casting down demonic strongholds (2 Corinthians 10). It’s fairly easy to read and there is no mistaking its influence (the “Father of Political Science”)

Boersma notes, 2: A Literal Reading

See Notes 1.

This chapter explores how Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine interpreted Genesis with an eye towards a literal interpretation.  It’s important in the sense that those who don’t know Patristics will say the Fathers (or Boersma) shunned a literal reading.  They didn’t.  Still, some of their conclusions are….odd.  I am only going to highlight some key aspects of Gregory’s reading as they relate to his overall metaphysics.

On the Making of Man

Genesis 1:27.  The first part of the verse refers to the universal essence of man (which Boersma elsewhere argued that “man” is  God’s foreknowledge of the fullness of all human beings at the end time (Boersma 32). This culminates in the eschaton.  This lets Gregory take Galatians 3:28 in the following: since there is no male or female in Christ, and Christ is the universal, the prototype, the image of God, then the universal man is neither male or female.

Strong stuff, and we will take issue with it later. The main problem is that Genesis 1:28 implies that sexual activity will take place regardless of the fall.

Ancient readers relished verbal associations in the text (39). Phrases like “tree of Life” or “Wisdom” were “trigger-loaded.”  This is like a non-Satanic version of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (how it should have been, before it was corrupted by the Deep State).

 

Review: The Biblical Doctrine of Man (Gordon Clark)

Thesis: Gordon Clark identifies the “man” with the “soul, spirit, or mind” (Clark 88). Man is the image (9). Clark doesn’t want to include the body in the definition of the image, but not because he is a rationalist.  He notes that Paul had an out-of-body experience but he was still the image of God (10). Quoting Col. 3:10 and Eph. 4:24, Clark argues that the image is knowledge and righteousness (14).Gordon H Clark

The Image of God

Clark has a fine section rejecting the Roman doctrine of donum superadditum (8). God pronounced man “very good,” which means he wasn’t created in a state of neutrality.  If Adam’s fall was merely the loss of original righteousness, then he only fell to a neutral level (13).

On the heart

Clark gives an interesting survey of how the term “heart” is used in the Bible, noting that it is normally used in an intellectual of voluntaristic sense and rarely in a touchy-feely sense (81-88). The heart has a noetic function.  Without realizing it, Clark has come very close to a key epistemological insight that many of the church fathers knew.

Clark defends a dichotomous view of the human subject (33-44).

Traducianism

His discussion isn’t as long or analytic as William GT Shedd’s, but it contains a number of penetrating insights.  For example:

(1) It is a fallacy to say that all angels’ souls are immediately created by God, and humans have souls, therefore each soul is immediately created (this seems to be John Gill’s argument).

(2) Souls don’t have to be fissile (Clark doesn’t use that term) since our soul isn’t produced or created by our parents’.  Nor do souls have spatial characteristics. Rather, we should see souls in terms of “functions” (47). If souls are active, and no one doubts they are, then there is no prima facie reason why a soul can’t transmit another soul.

Does traducianism depends on realism?  Maybe, but no one is saying that it depends on Plato’s realism?  But even if it does have similarities, there is no reason why this threatens imputation.  There is no logical “incongruity between the proposition, ‘the souls of descendants are propogated through their parents’ and, the proposition, ‘Adam acted as the legal representative for all men’” (49).

Does Realism necessitate that we hold there is an Idea of x in which one participates?  It can mean that but it doesn’t have to. All that Realism in Clark’s case requires is that there is an Idea in God’s mind and it is a real object of knowledge. Nor is one saying that all men participated in the Idea of Man, which also happened to be the individual Adam.  

Mind-Body Problem

Whatever problems the Christian dualist may have in explaining the relationship between the mind and body, the materialist has more.  How does a causal relationship arise from sensory experience (91)?

Gold Nuggets

Clark was ahead of his time.  He anticipated and exposed many of the dead-ends that philosophers, educators, and scientists face today.  For example:

(1) How do empiricists explain the production of abstract ideas from memory images (19)?

(2) If naturalism is true, then how can one say that the naturalistic process of the brain is “more true” than the process of flexing my muscle?  If naturalism produces both behaviorism in one case and Christianity in the other, and both are merely naturalistic reflexes, why is Behaviorism more true than Christianity (29)?

(3) “The Romish theory therefore locates the source of sin in Adam’s unfallen nature” (58).

(4) Depravity is part of the penalty of sin; therefore, the guilt logically precedes it (67).  As Westminster says, “the guilt is imputed, the corruption conveyed” (68; VI:3).

Analysis

The book kind of “ends” suddenly.  Granted, the last page is part of an appendix, but Clark never actually says his conclusion.  He has a long quote by Malebranche, but we don’t know if Clark is affirming or rejecting Occasionalism.

I’m also none too keen on defining the image as the soul.  Does image = soul mean the same thing as soul = person? The latter leads to Nestorianism if applied to Christology.  To be fair, though, Clark never affirms Descartes’s substance dualism. The book is short and very clearly-written.  There are some underdeveloped areas but on a whole it is outstanding.

Bringing the nous into the heart

This is from John Mcguckin’s The Path of Christianity: The First Thousand Years, pp. 862-869.  It is very difficult for many people to approach the ancient fathers on prayer.  For some, it looks too much like Buddhism.  And for many activists theologians, it doesn’t make sense to do hesychasm when you can be lobbying on Capitol Hill.  Nevertheless, the “stillness” model rests upon a particularly sophisticated anthropology, one that can help us in our technological age.  Indeed, one that can counter (with God’s help) deep state monarch programming.all flame

Have you ever prayed and felt dead?  Like the prayer wasn’t real?  Maybe it’s because you carried into prayer the mindset you had when you were watching the Kardashians ten minutes ago.  The Fathers teach us how to develop a mindset for prayer.  This mindset is important because it prevents us from having a “fractured psyche.”

St Gregory of Sinai clearly states that forgetfulness of God is a disease of the soul and of the faculty of reason. It has a direct impact on human memory, which ends up divided, diffused and fragmented, a prey to tempting thoughts. If I forget God, my memory will crumble into pieces, resulting in scattered, wayward thinking: “Dia-logismos”.

Now, on to McGuckin: “The heart is the inner place where the creature stood before God” (Path 865).  Heart isn’t quite the same thing as nous.

  • It is a biblical cipher for the whole spiritual personality.
  • It is sometimes expressed by the word wisdom (Prov. 19.8).
  • It is a synonym for the innermost self (Rom. 7.22).

So how does this apply to prayer?  Where does the doctrine cash out?  The fathers practiced the monologistos prayer.  It was a short phrase from Scripture that was repeated over and over until it soaked the consciousness (870).  That sounds like it violates Jesus’s command not to pray over and over like the heathen, but several things need to be noted:

  • He probably meant pagan incantations.
  • You are going to have something soaking your mind anyway.  Your mind is never neutral.  You will either soak it with God or with Katy Perry songs.  Take your pic.  Would you rather wake up in the middle of the night singing, “Romeo save me/I can’t ever be alone” or with

McGuckin notes the effect of this practice, “Charging and reorienting the human  consciousness, focusing it, as it were, like a lens on the singleness of the idea of the presence of God” (871).  The ancients knew that our minds wonder during prayer.  This trained us to begin the struggle of prayer.

The Anthropology of Prayer

We have a body (physical impulses), soul (feelings and desires), and nous (spiritual intellect). If the body was agitated, the other two “ranges” of consciousness would be pulled down as well (871).  Therefore, the monks knew that bodily needs are controlled by redirection.

That takes care of the body.  What about the soul?  Our prayer lives are usually by default rooted in our soul (consciousness).  This is where we live habitually. The monologistos prayer quiets down our soul. McGuckin succinctly points out, “Thoughts generate thoughts.  Words make words.  Monologistos prayer kills those unnecessary words” (872).

When the soul is finally quieted, the nous descends to the heart and one reaches stillness. This is what the hesychasts knew.  You aren’t just doing funny breathing.  At this point when you slow down the breathing, your body calms even more.

Everyone wants to claim that the human person is a body-soul unity, or some kind of unity.  I think it is the genius of Palamas to see how the person is a unity.  There is a dynamic interplay between body, soul, and nous.

Review: What Sort of Human Nature?

Medieval analytic philosophy gets to the heart of the problem:  If Christ has two natures, one of which he assumed as a human nature, and if he is consubstantial with us in our humanity, yet our nature is sinful, how is Christ not sinful?  Saying he chose not to sin doesn’t answer the question, as merely possessing a human nature tainted by sin makes one guilty. human nature

The short answer to the question is that we only need to show that Christ is fully human, and a tainted human nature is not necessary to the definition of what it means to be human.  Yet this reveals the deep octopus of questions that occurs at the intersection of anthropology and Christology.  Marilyn McCord Adams sets forth several questions on this topic and shows how (and why) the medievals answered the way they did.

Themes

(1) Metaphysical size-gap between God and man.
(2) There is a top-down pressure to regard Christ’s human nature with maximal perfection.
(3) Christ assumes something from each of man’s fourfold states. He has to have something to guide human beings into Beatific glory.

Adams interprets Chalcedon as defining person: Per 451, Person = supposit = individual substance (Adams 8). Other questions that arise: how much did the human soul of Jesus know?  Did it experience defects? If so, what kind?  Was it impeccable?

Anselm denies Christ is born in original sin. If he were, then he would be personally liable.  Anselm says Christ’s human soul was omniscient, yet he doesn’t explain how a finite human mind could have infinite cognitive capacity (17).

Lombard on Christ’s human knowledge: “Once again, Lombard charts a via media: the scope of Christ’s human knowledge matches the Divine, but the created act by which it knows will not be so metaphysically worthy or furnish the maximal clarity of knowledge found in the Divine essence. Even so, it will enable the soul of Christ to contemplate each creature clearly and as present and will include a contemplation of God as well” (21).

Conclusion:

The book admirably serves as a fine example of analytic theology. Adams plumbs the issues and shows the tensions and advantages in each theologian’s position.  I do feel the book’s conclusions were rushed at times, but given that it is actually a lecture and an essay, I suppose that can’t be helped.

 

Review: Hoppe, A Short History of Man

This is a “For Dummies” version of his groundbreaking *Democracy: The God that Failed.* While it has some serious limitations, it’s last chapter, on Aristocracy and Democracy, is brilliant. And even in the earlier sections of the book there are neat insights.

The author is committed to a Darwinian scheme of evolution, so I question his methodology at points. Still, he does a good job explaining how if one is going to escape from the Malthusian system one must have an economic and technological breakthrough to produce enough food.

The last chapter, the one on democracy, while summarizing his conclusions in his magnum opus, also takes the argument one step forward. It’s not simply that the untermenschen that democracy creates are the ones that negate civilization. They certainly do that. Even more so, it isn’t simply the “Government” that attacks liberty. That’s true, also. Rather, and this is Hoppe’s key insight, it is a subgroup within the government that is actively opposed to liberty. He calls this group the Plutocrats. We know them as the Deep State.

You can find this book online for free. I would save your money and get his larger book on Democracy instead.

Notes on Berkouwer’s anthropology

From his Man: The Image of God

On the broader/narrower distinction: man, despite his fall, was not beastialized (38).  By narrower man lost his communion with God.

  • the broader sense reminds us of what was not lost in the fall.
  • Perhaps better to speak of a duality between Old and New.

Should image of God be read as “active” (conformitas) or ontic (essence)?

Berkouwer on Eastern Orthodoxy

  • He doesn’t give the best discussion of EO, either in what they believe or in how to critique it.  Though he does hint that EO thinkers aren’t always able to clearly state the connection between inheriting Adam’s curse of death and why we always do sinful things, but yet refusing to call it Original Sin.

Klaas Schilder

Schilder sees man’s creation as the pre-condition for the image, but not the image itself (Berkouwer 54).  The actual image lies in the officium created man receives (I don’t think this is the full picture, but there is some truth to this, especially if we connect the imago dei with man’s dominion, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism hints at).

  • Thus, the image is dynamic and is rooted in the Covenantal God’s Relation with man.
  • the word “image” implies “making visible.”
  • Schilder resists any abstracting the image.
  • The glory of the image shines forth in service to God (56).

The danger with Schilder’s approach is that it makes the image too “dynamic” with an emphasis on conformitas.

What is the relationship between man’s humanness and God’s Image?  Berkouwer wants to deny that fallen man images God (57).  He says he can do this without rejecting what it means for man to be man.

  • Passages like Genesis 9:6 are not proof-texts for some abstract view of the image analogia entis.  They deal with a humanness in the context of God’s plan of salvation.
  • The truth of the matter is Scripture doesn’t focus that much on the distinction between wider and narrow, important though it is.
    • traditional discussions have always focused on image as defined by person, will, reason, and freedom.  Scripture, on the other hand, is concerned with man-in-relation-to-God.
  • A synthesis between the ontic and active aspects of the image is impossible when using concepts like “nature” and “essence” (61).

Analogia Fides

  • The danger in abstracting the imago dei is that the body is usually not included in what it means to be God’s image.  This means that only part of man is creted in the image of God.
  • Such discussions lose focus of the humanness of man.  They forget that man is man-in-his-apostasy.

The Meaning of the Image

Origen expounded the view that man was created in God’s image but grows into God’s likeness (De Principiis, 3.4.1; Bavinck calls this the naturalistic view).

Calvin, on the other hand, sees the two terms as an example of Hebrew parallelism.  Berkouwer gives the best critique:  “And if God’s plan for man (that man should have both image and likeness) was only partially realized by man’s creation in his Image (As Origen and others claimed), then it is difficult to explain Genesis 5, which speaks of man’s creation in God’s likeness (demuth) and after his image, tselem (Berkouwer, 69).

The image-concept and the Second Commandment

2Comm. deals with a prohibition against arbitrariness which man tries to have God at his beck and call (79).  The 2C is not primarily trying to protect the “spirituality” of God but to show that God is not at man’s beck and call (though, of course, God is spiritual).

The creation of man is directly related to the prohibition of images:  “For in worshiping images, man completely misunderstands God’s intentions and no longer realizes the meaning of his humanity (84).

Biblical usage:  The NT speaks of humanity as whether it is the “New man in Christ” or not.  To the degree it speaks of conformitas, it speaks of the new conformitas in Christ.

While the analogia entis is certainly wrong, we need to be careful of speaking of an analogia relationis, pace Barth and Dooyeweerd.   Berkouwer wisely notes that Scripture doesn’t speak of a “relation” in the abstract, but of a “relation as it becomes visible in the salvation of Christ” (101).

Even if one were to speak of an analogia entis, the biblical presentation of “being like God” has nothing to do with the natural state of affairs but rather shows forth the wonder of the new birth (1 John 3:9).  The “imitation of God” forms the pendant of our witness to the world, in which word and deed are joined in an unbreakable unity (102).

The Corruption of the Image

How do we reconcile language of corruption with hints of “remnants?”  There is a difficulty in saying that sin is “accidental” to man.  It cannot mean that sin is merely peripheral to man’s existence.  Rather, it affects all that he does.  The Formula of Concord says that sin is an accident, but one that produces man’s spiritual death (133).  When Flacius Illyrius saw the term “accident,” he interpreted it as meaning that sin is relative and external.

The problem is that substance/accidents language cannot do justice to the NT reality of sin. Berkouwer suggests we can rise above the dilemma “only when we see man’s nature, his being man, in his inescapable relation to God” (135).

We also need to be aware of positing “any remnant in man which can escape divine indictment” (135).  Whatever else we may think of substance/accidents, “Scripture constantly makes it clear that sin is not something which corrupts relatively or partially, but a corruption which full affects the radix, the root, of man’s existence, and therefore man himself” (104-141).

  • Gen. 6:11-12; the sin is referred to as “great.”
  • Gen. 6:5; man’s heart is evil
  • Gen. 8.21 (man’s imagination is evil from his youth)
  • Life outside of Christ is pictured as “under God’s wrath” (

“The power of sin since the fall is like an avalanche, and it results in the intervening judgment of God” (141).  The Old testament gives us a picture of total corruption but a limited curse (God doesn’t wipe us out completely).

“The jubilation of salvation corresponds to the real condition of lostness” (144).

Humanness and Corruption

Discussion about common grace.  When Calvin says man has “no worth” he means no merit before God’s judgment.

The Whole Man

Scripture doesn’t talk about man in the abstract, but man in his relation to God (195).

Biblical use of the word “soul.”

Sometimes it is “nefesh,” meaning life and can refer to man himself.  Berkouwer rejects that “soul” is a “localized religious part of man” (201).  The Bible’s interchangeable usage between soul and life should draw attention to the fact that the “heart” is of primary importance:  “The heart shows forth the deeper aspect of the whole humanness of man, not some functional localization in a part of man which would be the most important part” (202-203).

Concerning anthropological dualisms

Such a view sees the soul as the “higher” part, closer to God.  Leads to ascetism.  However, evil in the bible is never localized in a part of man.

Bavinck attacks trichotomy because Scripture knows of no original dualism between spirit and matter (209).    The trichotomist sees the soul as mediating between body and spirit (find Damascene’s comment that the soul is higher point, cf Bruce McCormack, Engaging the Doctrine of God).

Dualism and duality are not identical (211).  We can speak of a duality in God’s creation man and woman, without positing an ontological dualism between them (this is where Maximus and Jakob Boehme err).  “Duality within created reality does not exclude harmony and unity, but is exactly oriented towards it” (211).

Does soul and body involve a tension, and if so that would make it a dualism?  If it does involve a tension, we must reject not only trichotomy, but dichotomy.

Per the confessions and creeds, “there is a great difference between non-scientific references to a dual aspect of human nature and a thesis that man is composed of two substances, body and soul” (213-214).

The Dooyeweerdians

It opposes the idea that all the rich variation of humanness can be forced into two substantial categories.

Stoker defines substance as the “systatic core of man, that which functions in all spheres” (H.G. Stoker, Die nuwere Wijsbegeerte aan die Vrije Universiteit, 1933, 40ff.).

For the Dooyeweerdian critique, matter can never be an independent counter-pole to form.

Immortality of the Soul

Genuine and real life in Scripture is life in communion with God.  The philosophical notion of “immortality of the soul” calls death a lie and misunderstands the judgment of God (250).

The main contention of Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd whether there was a natural immortality based on an essence abstracted from its relation to God, from which we can draw further conclusions, such as the soul’s “indestructibility” (249).

Per Van der Leuw, there is no continued existence of the soul as such after death, “but a continuation of the contact point by God even though death” (Onsterfelijkheid of Opstanding, 25 quoted in Berkouwer 252).

  • The problem of what happens when we die does not involve a purely spiritual salvation but can only be answered in the context of death and the Day of Judgment (Althaus).

Is immortality of the soul correlative with the substantial dualism of mind-body?  This dichotomy raises substantial (pun?) problems and questions (255):

  • When the “soul” is separated from the body, what activities is it still able to carry out?
  • If the body is the organ of the soul (as in Aquinas), and the soul needs the body to carry out its functions, how can the soul know or do anything after death?
    • Dooyeweerd notes that the psychic functions are indissolubly connected with the total temporal-cosmic relationship of all modal functions and cannot be abstracted from this relationship.
    • Thus, we have a “living soul” which does not live.
    • Rather, with Dooyeweerd we should speak of a duality which is supra-temporal in the religious center of man (heart) and the whole temporal-functional complex.
    • Dooyeweerd does say that the soul continues as a form of existence with an individuality structure (Berkouwer 257n. 33).

Does Dooyeweerd’s school give us a “psychology without a soul?”

  • No, for Dooyeweerd says we cannot view man’s essence “in itself” and then tack it onto a relation with God.

The Reformed confessions’ use of soul and body is not to give a systematic anthropology but to show that expectation of salvation surpasses death (271).

Creationism and Traducianism

Berkouwer sees the problems with Creationism:

  • it finds the soul’s origin in another dimension than the “other” part of man, which finds its origin…from its parents (294).

Human Freedom

Freedom in the New Testament is not a “possibility,” but an actuality, the actuality of being free (Gal. 3:13, 4:4). Defining freedom as “double possibility,” as freedom of choice, arises from an abstract and irreligious and neutral anthropological analysis of human freedom (334).

irony and tension: if freedom is defined as choice, then we see that the choice for sin becomes a manifestation of human freedom–though we (and the Bible!) then go on to speak of sin as actually being slavery (335)!

Choosing Ba’al is not an ontological freedom of the will, but an endangering of freedom and the acceptance of an enslaved will (Deut. 30:18). How can we speak of a neutral and autonomous freedom of will when Jesus commands us to accept his yoke and his burden? (348)

Man of God

In the Old Testament it refers to a relationship with God (349).  Such a term can never be one of an abstract and neutral man.  It is man drawn out of darkness and into light.

“The magnalia Dei does not exclude true greatness, but calls it forth” (352).  [Think Stonewall Jackson]

 

 

Notes on Thomas Aquinas’s Treatise on grace

Obviously, this is not a full endorsement.

Can we know God without grace?

The act of the intellect depends upon God in two ways: it has its form by which it acts from God

Preparing the human will

The preparation of the will cannot take place without habitual grace.

Man incurs a triple loss by sinning: stain, corruption of natural good, and debt of punishment (ST 1-2, q. 109, art7).

Christ restores us in the mind but not entirely in the flesh (Thomas is working upon a faulty spirit-flesh dichotomy).

Grace is located in the essence of the soul (q. 110).

Cooperating with God (q. 111)

There is a twofold act in us: interior act of the will, which is moved by God, and the exterior act which is moved by us.

Miracles: q. 111 art. 4.  They happen today.  Thomas is most certainly (and rightly) a continuationist.

Justification

Right order in man’s act (ST 1-2, q. 113 art.1)

Infusion of grace: the logic is that God must change something in our soul for us to be right with him, since sin is a disordering of the soul.  “In the infusion of grace there is a certain transmutation of the soul” (ST 1-2, q. 113 art. 3).

Merit

It is the effect of cooperating grace (q. 114).

Merit exists on the grounds of God’s ordination (art 1).  

Man merits everlasting life condignly (art. 3).