I’m going to respond to a post by Drake Shelton:
Drake is your typical Scots-Presbyterial/Greek-Orthodoxal/Gordon-Clarkian White Supremacist.
I’m not debating Drake at this juncture. I’ve had enough experience debating him to realize that he’s not capable of interacting with a theological opponent. I’m just responding to his post to set the record straight.
As a Clarkian and seminary drop-out (?) at GPTS, Drake may have had a following or built-in audience, at least before he marginalized himself. So this post is for the benefit of those (few?) who may be relying on secondhand misinformation from Drake regarding my beliefs.
BTW, it’s very revealing to see him to devote lots of time to my position while he ignores Dale Tuggy. I was defending the deity of Christ in response to Tuggy’s attacks on the deity of Christ. The fact that Drake spends his time attacking someone (me) who defends the deity of Christ rather than defending the deity of Christ against someone (Tuggy) who attacks it betrays his true center of gravity.
A Full Refutation of Steve Hays’ Van Tillian and Thomistic Theology ProperFor more info see David Waltz’s articles on the Nicene Creed 325 vs. Constantinople 381 here here and here and my denial of the essence and energy distinction which is nothing short of ADS Monadism here.As a side note I thank Hays for posting his blogs publicly because cowards like Bob Letham and Jim Dodson refused to let my examinations of Latin based Protestant Scholastic Theology Proper become public but this summary lets the reader see in detail the problems with Thomistic and Van Tillian Theology Proper.
This unwittingly illustrates the fundamental flaw in Drake’s alleged refutation of my position. He’s actually not refuting my position. Rather, he’s filtering my position through a presumptive theological grid which he superimposes on my position.
Drake is basically self-taught. He’s read some books, from which he drives his categories. When he comes to my position, he reframes the discussion in terms of his own categories. He doesn’t derive my position from what I’ve actually said. Rather, he’s attacking a simulacrum.
This is one reason it’s impossible to have an intelligent debate with Drake. He isn’t really debating you. Rather, he’s debating a position that he’s projected onto you.
1. Steve has no definition of God and so he has no basis or standard to hold his opponents to when they use this term.
Sure I have a definition of God. I defined God by his revealed attributes in Scripture.
2. Steve has no uniform definition of Unitarianism which he admits.
Since there are varieties of unitarianism, to demand a uniform definition is nonsensical.
3. Steve Hays’ denial of logical inferences of scripture being scripture itself is Anabaptist.
One of Drake’s fact-free assertions.
4. Steve must argue that the persons of the Father and Son are synonymous because the persons are relations on his view, not subject/consciousnesses.
One of Drake’s fact-free assertions.
5. All of Steve’s arguments intended to label me a Unitarian are confused. On my Nicene view, being the one God is a hypostatic property of the Father, not a divine attribute. This he never acknowledges.
“Hypostatic” in what sense? A divine substrate?
6. Steve does not understand that the Numeric distinctions between the divine natures that I am using pertain to Cardinal Numerics, not Nominal or Ordinal Numerics. Mr. Dodson and I spilled much ink on this issue.
Cardinal numbering as is 1, 2, 3…?
Notice that he says “divine natures.” So he thinks there’s a plurality of divine natures? Each person represents a numerically distinct nature?
And how does counting natures distinguish natures? Counting presupposes distinctions.
7. Steve’s Dialectic between human reason and language with exegetical theology is Adoptionist, Anabaptist, and Papist. The Papists love when Protestants espouse a paradoxical and multi-interpretive Bible. It feeds right into the authority of the Hierarchy. (Thus Rutherford’s Free Disputation)
This is one of his vague, blanket accusations that has no specific content.
8. Steve uses mirrored images and symmetries to explain God ad intra, but his epistemology does not allow created objects to speak of God ontologically because that would allow human language to speak of God univocally. [http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/taking-steve-hays-to-task-on-archetypalectypal-knowledges-dependency-on-divine-simplicity/]
That simply begs the question of whether analogical predication is deficient.
Using symmetry to explain God ad intra is using created spatial categories as a created univocal ontological framework which his epistemology does not allow.
Drake is confusing abstract spatial exemplars with concrete spatial instances.
9. Hays succumbs (implicitly) to the exact error that Farrell pointed out by defining the persons as attributes. [http://www.anthonyflood.com/farrellphotios.htm] The persons are therefore not subjects but predicates.
Drake is illustrating his lexical naïveté. “Attribute” has more than one meaning. It has a specialized Aristotelian meaning, where there’s a substance/attribute distinction.
But there’s also the way in which “attribute” is used in systematic theology, where you have a locus on the divine attributes. I’m using the term in the latter sense. I’m not using “attribute” as a technical term for an Aristotelian or Thomistic category.
10. Steve fails to describe to us if the persons are part of the one God, each wholly the one God or what.
To the contrary, as I explained to Tuggy, part/whole relations are the wrong framework for symmetries and other abstract objects. That’s a false dichotomy.
11. It is inconsistent and illogical to speak of one cardinally numerical nature and then refer to it as them.
Cardinality is Drake’s framework, not mine.
12. Steve asks if the divine attributes are reducible or irreducible. What Steve is asking for is how the compositions are unified. Is there a collector behind the collections? The issue is I deny that compositions require a unifier for the existence or essence of a subject. It is Steve’s task first to prove that a collection requires a collector or that composition depends on simplicity.
No, that’s not what I’m asking. Drake is paraphrasing something he read in one of Clark’s books:
Accordingly the proposal is that man is a congeries, a system, sometimes an agglomeration of miscellany, but at any rate a collection of thoughts. A man is what he thinks: and no two men are precisely the same combination.Some bright sophomore who has studied Hume and Kant may here wonder aloud how there can be a collection without a collector. Must there not be a transcendental unity of apperception? Then an uneducated farm lad comes along and tells how a hundred hornets collected under the eaves of a barn. The Trinity, 106.
There are several obvious problems with Clark’s argument:
i) Even if we grant that a man is merely a collection of thoughts, because a man is a creature, he would be a contingent collection of thoughts. Therefore, that collection does, indeed, require a collector. God has to bundle those particular thoughts.
ii) To say hornet’s nest doesn’t require a collector because it “collected” in the barn is just verbal sleight-of-hand, based on the passive voice of the verb. That’s not a conceptual explanation.
iii) Moreover, the coordination of social insects does require something over and above the individual insects to account for their concerted efforts. What is directing their teamwork?
#1 How did distinction ever extend from an absolute simple Monad to begin with? Plotinus could not answer this and I’ll assume Steve can’t either.
The “Plotinian Monad” is Drake’s hobbyhorse, not mine. That’s not my operating framework.
#2 If it is the case, can the distinctions between the persons be reduced? If so how does that not terminate with the same absolutely simple monad that I have been accusing him of believing in for years now? Yet Steve tells us he doesn’t believe in ADS? Which is it Steve?
Once again, he imputes to me a conceptual scheme that doesn’t follow from my stated position.
On the one hand, symmetries don’t “terminate” at some lower level of abstract simplicity or complexity. On the other hand, symmetries don’t generate a potential infinite regress. I’ve discussed this before.
13. Steve refuses me (As a Scripturalist) the distinction between colloquial language and technical philosophical language yet he appeals to this distinction himself.
A vague, undocumented accusation.
14. On Steve’s view, the divine persons are representations of each other, so then what is the reality of the representation? Could it be a monad?
No, there is no underlying reality or substrate. The divine representation contains the divine reality. The distinction between the representation and what is represented isn’t a distinction between representation and reality, but between mirrored realities. Each person is real. Each person mirrors the other. Each person is contained in the other, but with a difference (i.e. the enantiomorphic differential).
Second, knowledge of God is supposed to be a created similitude of that which is uncreated. So the knowledge of God with respect to object is a created representation, of an uncreated representation of a monad. Break out the Ragu, word pasta for all!
Like a broken record, Drake is stuck on the monad track.
15. On Steve’s view, selfhood and personality can have no definition in human language. Just like in Plotinus where the monad suffers no distinctions required for a mind or intellect, Steve’s divine self is equally impersonal and completely incompatible with the ontology of men. Say goodbye to the hypostatic union. He has two choices in front of him: #1 Assert Plotinus’ system of not a hypostatic union but a substantial pantheistic union. #2 Take the Adoptionist and Nestorian system of no ontological compatibility between humanity and divinity.
i) “Compatibility” is a vague designator. Divine ontological is compatible with the existence of demons, trees, rocks, &c.
ii) What Drake seems to be alluding to is the fact that I reject the claim that divine attributes are transferable to human nature, or vice versa. That’s because I’m not a pantheist.
iii) Drake hasn’t begun to show how the “divine self is impersonal” on my view.
16. Steve does not understand the differences between Thomistic Analogies. There are numerous types of analogical knowledge and he consistently tries to escape into the ambiguity and ignorance of most people he discusses this issue with. Sadly, thus will not work with me. http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/analogy-of-proportionality-refuted-univocal-predication-defended/
This is one of Drake’s many rabbit trails. I’m not evoking Thomistic analogies in the first place.
17. Steve refuses any kind of subordination among the divine persons which paints him necessarily in the Tri-Theist corner.
That only follows if you assume that monotheism requires intra-Trinitarian subordination, which begs the question.
18. On Steve’s view the unicity of God is not revealed.
God’s unicity is revealed in Biblical terms. I accept that.
Drake’s problem is that he want’s a different kind of unicity.
Therefore we know not what we worship; leaving us spiritual Samaritans (John 4:22) and as Rutherford points out in Free Disputation, Anabaptists or completely ignorant Papists that must rely implicitly on an infallible Church official. He even goes to the lengths of saying that there are numerous possible formulations. This is exactly the position of the Anabaptists who refused to believe in the Establishment of One True Religion.
Considering the fact that Drake’s theory of God is a hodge-podge of disparate influences from Clark, Greek Orthodoxy, &c, which doesn’t correspond to the Westminster Confessional doctrine of God, Drake is in no position to take refuge in Rutherford.
19. Steve falls into the trap of looking to Plotinus’ One to escape the polytheism of the ANE. How is that placing Yahweh outside of Paganism? It doesn’t.
Once again, Drake makes things up as he goes along.
20. Steve’s use of the Mandelbrot set posits a generic unity not a numeric unity because a set is not multiple parts of one thing but a set of different things. This contradicts his earlier numeric unity.
i) Drake lacks the ability to distinguish between an abstract “set” and a concrete set. The Mandelbrot set is not like a chess set with a board and different pieces.
iii) I used the Mandelbrot set to illustrate three principles:
a) Self-similarity, which is analogous to the Trinity
b) An abstract object can be complex in one respect, yet ontologically simple in another respect (i.e. lacking spatiotemporal parts).
c) Apropos (a-b), it threads the needle between identity and alterity.
21. Just like in Plotinus, Steve’s God is a monad. Personality or the nous is produced by the monad not constituted by it.
Notice how often Drake falls back on that fact-free assertion as a substitute for having to actually think.
22. Saying that Jesus is the same Cardinally Numeric person as Yahweh is Sabellian.
I didn’t say that. Once more, Drake is imputing his simpleminded framework to me. Yahweh is the Trinity.
However, Scripture itself treats Jesus as Yahweh, just as it treats the Father and the Spirit as Yahweh, even though Scripture distinguishes between the Father, Son, and Spirit.
And if he denies that the unicity of God has been revealed he basically vindicates Sabellius and makes the business of Church discipline impossible.
That’s very funny coming from a schismatic like Drake.
23. Steve denies that humanity can assume divine properties and prerogatives thus he denies the hypostatic union.
i) God can delegate some divine prerogatives to men. That’s the nature of government. On the other hand, not all divine prerogatives are transmissible.
ii) Drake isn’t describing a hypostatic union, but a hypostatic merger.
iii) As I’ve noted in the past, Clarkian idealism denies the Incarnation in principle.
24. Steve does not understand the difference between divine attributes and properties. He confuses them numerous times and speaks as if they were synonymous. Thus he confuses nature and person.
That’s because, as a matter of fact, “attributes” and “properties” can be used synonymously. Linguistic usage is descriptive, not prescriptive.
25. Steve’s dialectic between human language and divine revelation is a denial of Bible Translation which requires apriori linguistic assumptions and theological assumptions.
i) The first part of the statement is too vague to mean much of anything.
ii) It’s ironic to see a Scripturalist appeal to the necessity of extrascriptural linguistic and theological assumptions in Bible translation. Way ta go, Drake.
26. Steve has a fundamental confusion between the ontological and economical trinity! This mistake is fleshed out more in Latin Theology Proper with the Filioque Heresy. Steve is saying that the distinction between Father and Son in the Ontological Trinity is the same distinction in the economy of salvation.
I haven’t said anything of the kind.
This refutes Steve’s interpretation of John 17:3 and his understanding of Yahweh.
Which piggybacks on Drake’s fact-free ascription.
27. Steve wants the paradoxes in math, science and logic to be parallel with God ad intra and applicable to Theology Proper, but then he turns around and says that God is in a class all by himself. If that is so then he cannot appeal to the paradoxes in math, science and logic.
To say that God is ontologically sui generis doesn’t rule out analogies between God and his creatures. To be unique is not to be incommensurable. Those are not interchangeable concepts.