Aquinas Disagreement

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
The reason why people are arguing that we need to go back to reading Thomas Aquinas and earlier writers rather than just reading the Reformers and Puritans is that you cannot properly understand the Reformers and Puritans without having a reasonable background in the Patristics and Scholastics.

Why do you think that so many men who have read a lot of Puritans have fallen into such gross errors concerning theology proper and Christology? (Seriously, think carefully about this question for a while before answering. A lack of catholicity in one's reading will have serious implications further on down the line.)
 

Aspiring Homesteader

Puritan Board Freshman
The reason why people are arguing that we need to go back to reading Thomas Aquinas and earlier writers rather than just reading the Reformers and Puritans is that you cannot properly understand the Reformers and Puritans without having a reasonable background in the Patristics and Scholastics.

Why do you think that so many men who have read a lot of Puritans have fallen into such gross errors concerning theology proper and Christology? (Seriously, think carefully about this question for a while before answering. A lack of catholicity in one's reading will have serious implications further on down the line.)
I’d love an example of this to do a case study, brother.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
The reason why people are arguing that we need to go back to reading Thomas Aquinas and earlier writers rather than just reading the Reformers and Puritans is that you cannot properly understand the Reformers and Puritans without having a reasonable background in the Patristics and Scholastics.

Why do you think that so many men who have read a lot of Puritans have fallen into such gross errors concerning theology proper and Christology? (Seriously, think carefully about this question for a while before answering. A lack of catholicity in one's reading will have serious implications further on down the line.)
Do we have catholicity with heretics though? There was a reason the reformation took place and it wasn't because the theology was awesome.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not sure any of the "safe" theologians mentioned from any time in history should be read with complete acceptance. Everyone one of them has an error somewhere. We would repudiate the possibility of Christian perfectionism in our walk. Why would we adopt something akin to it in writers of theology or, perhaps more appropriately, the product of their mind and pen?

Note: this is not a defense of Aquinas, per se. It is simply asking all of us to step back and consider any and all theologians we hold dear.
There's an error and there's flagrant heresy.

My Eastern Orthodox friends say the same thing. Metaphysics is inescapable

This particular argument has been answered to, not a few times in the span of the past few months.

So are you saying that unless I read Aquinas I cannot understand and believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son? The explicit words of Christ are not enough? This truth was considered so basic that it was included in the Nicene Creed but I need Aquinas to understand it? This is a perfect example of the problem here.

I understand that the Eastern Orthodox would disagree but their rejection of the Filioque is probably due to a more fundamental error in their understanding of the Trinity.
 
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jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
There's an error and there's flagrant heresy.





So are you saying that unless I read Aquinas I cannot understand and believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son? The explicit words of Christ are not enough? This truth was considered so basic that it was included in the Nicene Creed but I need Aquinas to understand it? This is a perfect example of the problem here.

I understand that the Eastern Orthodox would disagree but their rejection of the Filioque is probably due to a more fundamental error in their understanding of the Trinity.
What flagrant heresy are you referring to and how do you know its heresy? Without the great tradition of course? People like Aquinas worked on the backs of the Cappadocian's to further refine what they did. I agree that lay people shouldn't read anyone or everyone but perhaps a more controlled Sunday school class or whatever might be ok. I've been very careful with which of my books I lend out without proper education.
In reading this, and other threads, I'm not sure I understand the disagreement outside one of emphasis. I could be wrong though, maybe there's something I'm not seeing.
 

danekristjan

Puritan Board Freshman
What flagrant heresy are you referring to and how do you know its heresy? Without the great tradition of course? People like Aquinas worked on the backs of the Cappadocian's to further refine what they did. I agree that lay people shouldn't read anyone or everyone but perhaps a more controlled Sunday school class or whatever might be ok. I've been very careful with which of my books I lend out without proper education.
In reading this, and other threads, I'm not sure I understand the disagreement outside one of emphasis. I could be wrong though, maybe there's something I'm not seeing.
Do you not agree that a great deal of Thomas' theology is unbiblical?
 

Aspiring Homesteader

Puritan Board Freshman
@RamistThomist and others:

IF we assume that there’s value in studying the whole body of Christian writing throughout the history of the Church,

BUT, not every Christian is equipped or ready to either profit from, or discern the problems with, someone like Aquinas,

THEN, what would be the fundamental works your average reading layman should focus on?

I’m talking about more than the Puritans.

Should someone in this position start at Calvin and move forward?

I’m sure everyone has a different answer, but I’d love to have a manageable list for study that doesn’t necessarily require Aquinas.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
There's an error and there's flagrant heresy.





So are you saying that unless I read Aquinas I cannot understand and believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son? The explicit words of Christ are not enough? This truth was considered so basic that it was included in the Nicene Creed but I need Aquinas to understand it? This is a perfect example of the problem here.

I understand that the Eastern Orthodox would disagree but their rejection of the Filioque is probably due to a more fundamental error in their understanding of the Trinity.
Christ just says he temporally sends the Holy Spirit in economy.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Do we have catholicity with heretics though? There was a reason the reformation took place and it wasn't because the theology was awesome.

So why did the Reformers, to use your own words, "have catholicity with heretics"? One point to remember is that the likes of Francis Turretin argued that someone was not to be considered a heretic merely for embracing gross error, but on account of obstinately maintaining it after their error had been pointed out to them. For this reason, those who lived prior to the Reformation ought not to be judged as severely as those who maintained popish errors in its aftermath. This distinction is important because it highlights the absurdity of those equating the errors of Federal Visionists with the errors of the Patristics. The latter did not have the benefit of living after the Westminster Confession was written.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Do you not agree that a great deal of Thomas' theology is unbiblical?
Yeah. But on theology proper he is a major foundation whether or not they agree. If you have different preferences ok. I've only read secondary stuff on him. But I'm trying to figure out the main point under dispute. One side seems to be saying yes read him but the other side says no. With varying perspectives that seem to be divided down a middle problem I can't figure out. This is like what the third thread started on this?
It just seems should one read him? That is way over simplifying the question, even should one recommend him is way too simple. Thats my take but I'm positive I'm not seeing something thats why I asked for clarification.
 

Tychicus

Puritan Board Freshman
Do we have catholicity with heretics though?
This argument:
Either you believe salvation is by faith alone or you don't. That appears to be the dividing line in scripture.
If applied consistently would mean not a few theologians prior to the Reformation to be regarded as heretics. (For instance, Augustine, see the section "justification" here: https://delatinized.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/the-soteriology-of-st-augustine/)

I'm not sitting at home all day reading Aquinas. I haven't read him much at all (I do intend to), only excerpts from him mediated through other theologians. I'm not necessarily defending Aquinas per se, but the method of dismissing him is unfair.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
This argument:

If applied consistently would mean not a few theologians prior to the Reformation to be regarded as heretics. (For instance, Augustine, see the section "justification" here: https://delatinized.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/the-soteriology-of-st-augustine/)

I'm not sitting at home all day reading Aquinas. I haven't read him much at all (I do intend to), only excerpts from him mediated through other theologians. I'm not necessarily defending Aquinas per se, but the method of dismissing him is unfair.
I don't agree. The Bible is clear on how a man is saved and 2 Timothy 3:16 and following makes it clear the Bible is enough. Galatians also is very clear on how we should view people who add works or rituals to the gospel. You aren't disagreeing with me, you are disagreeing with God. Your philosophy is twisting you up and you are giving passes to people who the Bible does not. Perhaps they won't be judged as severely as those who persisted in their error as those after the reformation, but I don't see anywhere in the Bible where people get a pass because they decided to follow human tradition rather than search the scriptures. Thomas was wrong on salvation and nothing will change that. We are supposed to mark and avoid teachings that will send you to hell.
 

Tychicus

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't agree. The Bible is clear on how a man is saved and 2 Timothy 3:16 and following makes it clear the Bible is enough. Galatians also is very clear on how we should view people who add works or rituals to the gospel. You aren't disagreeing with me, you are disagreeing with God. Your philosophy is twisting you up and you are giving passes to people who the Bible does not. Perhaps they won't be judged as severely as those who persisted in their error as those after the reformation, but I don't see anywhere in the Bible where people get a pass because they decided to follow human tradition rather than search the scriptures. Thomas was wrong on salvation and nothing will change that. We are supposed to mark and avoid teachings that will send you to hell.
Brother, I'm not insisting we read him positively on justification. But on the other hand, on a subject like natural law, he is essential reading. Natural law is a good reason for retrieving Aquinas. The degeneracy and confusion over gender and sexuality is due to the decline of natural law. The root reason is sin, the rejection of God's design in nature.

I'm not giving a pass to anyone. One must read Aquinas just like one reads Augustine or any of the Patristics. I'm not saying anything positive or negative about Aquinas or any of the men involved in the debate, but merely calling for consistency. If Aquinas goes out, so does everyone prior to the Reformation. The confessional understanding of justification cannot be as clearly found in the pre-reformation theologians as it is now. I'm sure many of the Patristics would be brought under charges for their understanding of salvation if they said what they said then, now.
 
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Tychicus

Puritan Board Freshman
In reading this, and other threads, I'm not sure I understand the disagreement outside one of emphasis. I could be wrong though, maybe there's something I'm not seeing
I think you're on to something. There's a lack of specificity. Unless one starts specific threads like "Aquinas and divine simplicity", "Aquinas and Natural Law", "Aquinas and Justification", we won't get anywhere. This is the fourth or fifth thread related to Aquinas/philosophy/great tradition and the same arguments are being made over and over again. There have been 100s of replies in these threads but we have not let the man (Aquinas) speak for himself. Specificity is the way to go.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Christ just says he temporally sends the Holy Spirit in economy.

But the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, is it not? Or to quote a couple of guys who are a bit more sound:

“What is true for His manner of operation is also true for His manner of existence. The manner of His operation is a necessary consequence of His manner of existence.” (Brakel)

This is because “the being or essence of a thing is the foundation or principium of its activity or operation, and all things operate in a manner proper or proportionate to what they are...The correlation of the way in which God is known through his self-revelation and the way in which God truly is in himself constitutes the necessary presupposition of true doctrine, i.e., of the truth of the revelation itself; therefore the revelation that God is one and the revelation that God is three cannot be reduced to an eternal oneness and a temporal or economical threeness." (Muller)
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
But the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, is it not? Or to quote a couple of guys who are a bit more sound:

“What is true for His manner of operation is also true for His manner of existence. The manner of His operation is a necessary consequence of His manner of existence.” (Brakel)

This is because “the being or essence of a thing is the foundation or principium of its activity or operation, and all things operate in a manner proper or proportionate to what they are...The correlation of the way in which God is known through his self-revelation and the way in which God truly is in himself constitutes the necessary presupposition of true doctrine, i.e., of the truth of the revelation itself; therefore the revelation that God is one and the revelation that God is three cannot be reduced to an eternal oneness and a temporal or economical threeness." (Muller)
The economic reveals the immanent. I’m surprised to see you quote a liberal papist like Rahner.

I’m not sure how abrakel is saying what you think he is saying. I agree that the missions reveal the processions.

Muller is a Thomist
 

Tychicus

Puritan Board Freshman
But the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, is it not? Or to quote a couple of guys who are a bit more sound:

“What is true for His manner of operation is also true for His manner of existence. The manner of His operation is a necessary consequence of His manner of existence.” (Brakel)

This is because “the being or essence of a thing is the foundation or principium of its activity or operation, and all things operate in a manner proper or proportionate to what they are...The correlation of the way in which God is known through his self-revelation and the way in which God truly is in himself constitutes the necessary presupposition of true doctrine, i.e., of the truth of the revelation itself; therefore the revelation that God is one and the revelation that God is three cannot be reduced to an eternal oneness and a temporal or economical threeness." (Muller)
I just had to do this: 6p00mg.jpg
All in good fun.....
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
The economic reveals the immanent. I’m surprised to see you quote a liberal papist like Rahner.

I’m not sure how abrakel is saying what you think he is saying. I agree that the missions reveal the processions.

Muller is a Thomist

Is the economic Trinity different from the immanent Trinity? Brakel and Muller are saying that the operations of the Trinity in time flow from the nature of God's being and the relations of the Persons. By saying what you said - "Christ just says he temporally sends the Holy Spirit in economy." - you are separating the economic Trinity from the immanent and suggesting there are two different Trinities; or that the one Trinity acts in a way in time so different from how it exists ontologically that we do not know anything about the ontological Trinity. As Muller says: if the economic Trinity is different from the immanent then the Revelation we have of God is not true. We can make certain distinctions between the economic and immanent but if Christ's statement refers only to how the Trinity operates in time then God remains cuts off from our knowing Him. The Westminster divines were quite content to use Christ's statements about His sending of the Spirit in time to support the claim that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son from eternity.

I didn't know whether Muller was a Thomist or not. I didn't need to read Aquinas to follow Muller's argument. This only strengthens my argument: what I need to know from the likes of Aquinas is found in orthodox Protestant theologians.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Is the economic Trinity different from the immanent Trinity? Brakel and Muller are saying that the operations of the Trinity in time flow from the nature of God's being and the relations of the Persons. By saying what you said - "Christ just says he temporally sends the Holy Spirit in economy." - you are separating the economic Trinity from the immanent and suggesting there are two different Trinities; or that the one Trinity acts in a way in time so different from how it exists ontologically that we do not know anything about the ontological Trinity. As Muller says: if the economic Trinity is different from the immanent then the Revelation we have of God is not true. We can make certain distinctions between the economic and immanent but if Christ's statement refers only to how the Trinity operates in time then God remains cuts off from our knowing Him. The Westminster divines were quite content to use Christ's statements about His sending of the Spirit in time to support the claim that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son from eternity.

I didn't know whether Muller was a Thomist or not. I didn't need to read Aquinas to follow Muller's argument. This only strengthens my argument: what I need to know from the likes of Aquinas is found in orthodox Protestant theologians.
I’m not disagreeing with Muller. I’m simply pointing out that a proof text of Jesus using the word send doesn’t immediately get you dual eternal procession from a single source. To get there you need a robust trinitarian metaphysics, which is what I’ve been saying all along
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I’m not disagreeing with Muller. I’m simply pointing out that a proof text of Jesus using the word send doesn’t immediately get you dual eternal procession from a single source. To get there you need a robust trinitarian metaphysics, which is what I’ve been saying all along

So is the economic Trinity the same as the immanent, or not?

But also do I need a robust trinitarian metaphysics (supplied by Aquinas) to know and believe that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son? I'm not saying that this truth can't be parsed out theologically but if you're saying I can't know and believe this truth simply from the statements of Christ then I think we have a very big problem.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
So is the economic Trinity the same as the immanent, or not?

But also do I need a robust trinitarian metaphysics (supplied by Aquinas) to know and believe that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son? I'm not saying that this truth can't be parsed out theologically but if you're saying I can't know and believe this truth simply from the statements of Christ then I think we have a very big problem.
When I get back to my computer I can explain why Rahners Rule is very dangerous
 

83r17h

Puritan Board Freshman
But the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, is it not?

I'm pretty sure this is the identity that various modern theologians assert (Rahner for example), but they end up making God subject to history in some way because of it. Is God's action of becoming incarnate in Christ (economic) essential to the being of God? If you answer yes, then there are significant problems (least of which is the idea that God needs to "become" fully God through history). If you answer no, then there is no longer an identity between the economic and immanent Trinity.

The quotes you provide actually make a distinction (not identity) between the two. Distinction is neither separation nor identification.
Brakel: "necessary consequence"
Muller: "the foundation or principium"

As Muller says: if the economic Trinity is different from the immanent then the Revelation we have of God is not true.

I think that you are reading too much into what he actually says here (at least in the quote you provide). Consider:
The correlation of the way in which God is known through his self-revelation and the way in which God truly is in himself constitutes the necessary presupposition of true doctrine, i.e., of the truth of the revelation itself;
Note that there are two things here: the way in which God is known (economic) and the way in which God is (immanent). Not their identity, but their correlation is here asserted as the necessary foundation of true revelation. Further:

therefore the revelation that God is one and the revelation that God is three cannot be reduced to an eternal oneness and a temporal or economical threeness.
His point is that you have two items in revelation: oneness and threeness. Because of the aforementioned correlation (not identity), you cannot make the oneness immanent and the threeness economic. Both oneness and threeness are immanent, and both oneness and threeness are economic. This is because the economic reflects the immanent. What is being countered here isn't Thomas, or the idea of distinguishing the two. What is being countered is a destruction of the doctrine of the Trinity itself that is probably a form of modalism - or, the inherently deistic doctrine of liberal protestantism.

You can have a distinction with an extremely strong (and necessary) connection. But identity is an improper reduction which actually prevents rightly understanding the relationship. In an identity, only one (at most) of the original two survive in the definition. If we define the economic Trinity as God's free actions in the economy, then we can't assert an identity between the economic and immanent Trinity. Rather, the immanent Trinity is the acting agent in the economy (which is why the economic Trinity - the missions - are grounded in and reveal the processions; but the missions are not the processions).

I'm probably messing up the terminology here somehow. When you ask whether or not the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, we need to define the word "is" carefully. God in himself is not strictly or absolutely identical with God's action in history. Rather, God in himself is the agent who acts in history, but his action in history is not himself (he does not enact himself), rather a reflection and revelation of himself. This is summed up in "processions ground missions." But for processions to ground missions, processions cannot be identical to missions. Instead of removing God from our knowledge, this provides the basis for our knowledge of God through his works while honoring God's own nature.

But to go back to one of the original points: Thomas discusses this pretty clearly and precisely. I can't imagine why we would be opposed to ever reading Thomas when he discusses the Trinity in an edifying manner, but absorb the incorrect, reductionistic, and modern identity between economic and immanent Trinity from someone far worse like Rahner. I personally find great profit in reading theologians that I disagree with, if only because it sharpens me and points me back to the Scriptures so that I might know why I disagree. They challenge me, and direct me back to God. It also helps me develop more charity in dealing with others, rather than assuming a purely critical/judgmental perspective that I am the only one (or part of the only group) with access to the truth. Aquinas was wrong on soteriology, sure. But does being wrong on soteriology mean that you are unsaved? That seems to go too far, and actually contradict our own soteriology. We believe in justification by faith alone, not justification by belief in justification by faith alone. It is difficult to read Thomas and judge him to be against the Lord. Was he in error? Definitely. Was he seeking to be obedient to the Scriptures? It certainly seems so. It is an overrealization of eschatology to demand a perfect systematic theology (or perceive a perfect systematic theology) at any point in history. Acknowledging that the saints are imperfect until glory, we should be fine learning from them both where they are correct (by imitation) and where they are incorrect (by being different). This is why we have the examples of saints for us: to learn both from their failures and their successes. And furthermore, to read a non-modern perspective like Aquinas challenges us against the excesses and deficiencies of our own age, and those of any particular age we might wish to imitate (the Puritans were not perfect). And, the Puritan/Reformed example is to read widely throughout church history - perhaps one of the reasons why they were so great! It doesn't make sense to both hold them up, but also call their practice of reading and study evil or to be avoided. There's also a matter of individual wisdom. I would not send many people to The Domain of the Word by John Webster for example, even though I have gotten incredible profit from reading through and wrestling with it, and the Scripture that he comments on. Others (few), I would send there if I knew they had a solid basis to be able to profit from it without wholesale accepting what he says.

A question for you Alexander: how would you define "the immanent Trinity" and "the economic Trinity?" If you define them strictly as the being of the agent, then it seems that you are correct in saying that there is nothing different...but there will also be nothing "economic" about either definition.

When I get back to my computer I can explain why Rahners Rule is very dangerous

You replied right as I finished typing - hopefully my poor explanation is helpful in the meantime. But you are more widely read and more articulate than me, so I'll look forward to your corrections and improvements when you have the time.
 
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alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I'm pretty sure this is the identity that various modern theologians assert (Rahner for example), but they end up making God subject to history in some way because of it. Is God's action of becoming incarnate in Christ (economic) essential to the being of God? If you answer yes, then there are significant problems (least of which is the idea that God needs to "become" fully God through history). If you answer no, then there is no longer an identity between the economic and immanent Trinity.

The quotes you provide actually make a distinction (not identity) between the two. Distinction is neither separation nor identification.
Brakel: "necessary consequence"
Muller: "the foundation or principium"



I think that you are reading too much into what he actually says here (at least in the quote you provide). Consider:

Note that there are two things here: the way in which God is known (economic) and the way in which God is (immanent). Not their identity, but their correlation is here asserted as the necessary foundation of true revelation. Further:


His point is that you have two items in revelation: oneness and threeness. Because of the aforementioned correlation (not identity), you cannot make the oneness immanent and the threeness economic. Both oneness and threeness are immanent, and both oneness and threeness are economic. This is because the economic reflects the immanent. What is being countered here isn't Thomas, or the idea of distinguishing the two. What is being countered is a destruction of the doctrine of the Trinity itself that is probably a form of modalism - or, the inherently deistic doctrine of liberal protestantism.

You can have a distinction with an extremely strong (and necessary) connection. But identity is an improper reduction which actually prevents rightly understanding the relationship. In an identity, only one (at most) of the original two survive in the definition. If we define the economic Trinity as God's free actions in the economy, then we can't assert an identity between the economic and immanent Trinity. Rather, the immanent Trinity is the acting agent in the economy (which is why the economic Trinity - the missions - are grounded in and reveal the processions; but the missions are not the processions).

I'm probably messing up the terminology here somehow. When you ask whether or not the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity, we need to define the word "is" carefully. God in himself is not strictly or absolutely identical with God's action in history. Rather, God in himself is the agent who acts in history, but his action in history is not himself (he does not enact himself), rather a reflection and revelation of himself. This is summed up in "processions ground missions." But for processions to ground missions, processions cannot be identical to missions. Instead of removing God from our knowledge, this provides the basis for our knowledge of God through his works while honoring God's own nature.

But to go back to one of the original points: Thomas discusses this pretty clearly and precisely. I can't imagine why we would be opposed to every reading Thomas when he discusses the Trinity in an edifying manner, but absorb the incorrect, reductionistic, and modern identity between economic and immanent Trinity from someone far worse like Rahner. I personally find great profit in reading theologians that I disagree with, if only because it sharpens me and points me back to the Scriptures so that I might know why I disagree. They challenge me, and direct me back to God. It also helps me develop more charity in dealing with others, rather than assuming a purely critical/judgmental perspective that I am the only one (or part of the only group) with access to the truth. Aquinas was wrong on soteriology, sure. But does being wrong on soteriology mean that you are unsaved? That seems to go too far, and actually contradict our own soteriology. We believe in justification by faith alone, not justification by believe in justification by faith alone. It is difficult to read Thomas and judge him to be against the Lord. Was he in error? Definitely. Was he seeking to be obedient to the Scriptures? It certainly seems so. It is an overrealization of eschatology to demand a perfect systematic theology (or perceive a perfect systematic theology) at any point in history. Acknowledging that the saints are imperfect until glory, we should be fine learning from them both where they are correct (by imitation) and where they are incorrect (by being different). This is why we have the examples of saints for us: to learn both from their failures and their successes. And furthermore, to read a non-modern perspective like Aquinas challenges us against the excesses and deficiencies of our own age, and those of any particular age we might wish to imitate (the Puritans were not perfect). And, the Puritan/Reformed example is to read widely throughout church history - perhaps one of the reasons why they were so great! It doesn't make sense to both hold them up, but also call their practice of reading and study evil or to be avoided. There's also a matter of individual wisdom. I would not send many people to The Domain of the Word by John Webster for example, even though I have gotten incredible profit from reading through and wrestling with it, and the Scripture that he comments on. Others (few), I would send there if I knew they had a solid basis to be able to profit from it without wholesale accepting what he says.

A question for you Alexander: how would you define "the immanent Trinity" and "the economic Trinity?" If you define them strictly as the being of the agent, then it seems that you are correct in saying that there is nothing different...but there will also be nothing "economic" about either definition.



You replied right as I finished typing - hopefully my poor explanation is helpful in the meantime. But you are more widely read and more articulate than me, so I'll look forward to your corrections and improvements when you have the time.

This is very informative and helpful. How old is this distinction between the immanent and economic? Has it always been a feature of theology or is it a more recent articulation? I mean the terms themselves not just the ideas behind them.

I understood quoting Rahner would cause a reaction. Having never read him (because he's a heretic) I don't know how he defines what he means by that statement. My point was that to say Christ's statements about sending the Spirit are "just" about what He does in time is very dangerous because it separates the Trinity as it is from eternity and the Trinity as it operates in the world. These statements of Christ (and maybe a couple of others in the NT) are what we use to justify the claim that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. If they are just about God's works in time then I don't know what other ground we have for making that claim. Our trinitarian metaphysics has to be based on Scripture: we can't read our metaphysics into Scripture. I used Muller's argument because it seemed to be saying that if we separate rather than distinguish between the two then we can't know the truth about God. I agree we must avoid both extremes. But what I heard in RamistThomist's statement was a separation and not merely a distinction. He seemed to be saying that without someone else explaining trinitarian metaphysics, the Scriptural account left us only with an economic Trinity.

The language of a Brakel is far better and the distinction made by him and Muller seems sound. My concern has been suggestions- intentionally or not- that we can't know fundamental truths without reading someone like Aquinas. And yes when I read Scripture I am reading it with certain presuppositions drawn from the teachings of Reformed theology. But that is my point: I don't need to read Aquinas because Protestant divines before me did and produced a consistent, extensive body of systematic theology (which is very pastorally focused) and I can use that. I've never said Aquinas wasn't important in the history of the church or development of theology. I have only ever questioned the cavalier and enthusiastic recommendation of him today to Christians. Ostensibly because theology today is so shallow and yet I can't say I've seen as much vigour being displayed for Turretin and Van Maastricht as I'm seeing for Aquinas.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't agree. The Bible is clear on how a man is saved and 2 Timothy 3:16 and following makes it clear the Bible is enough. Galatians also is very clear on how we should view people who add works or rituals to the gospel. You aren't disagreeing with me, you are disagreeing with God. Your philosophy is twisting you up and you are giving passes to people who the Bible does not. Perhaps they won't be judged as severely as those who persisted in their error as those after the reformation, but I don't see anywhere in the Bible where people get a pass because they decided to follow human tradition rather than search the scriptures. Thomas was wrong on salvation and nothing will change that. We are supposed to mark and avoid teachings that will send you to hell.
Well ok, I think I know what's going on here. So, if I understand you correctly, don't read anyone before the Reformation because they were tainted by RCC. Do I understand you correctly, I don't want to misunderstand you so correct me if I'm wrong? Also the whole "your philosophy is twisting you up" comment is a bit presumptuous how do you know thats what the person, or anyone else agreeing with them is doing, you responded to is guilty of?
I don't know your level of familiarity with the philosophy you're critiquing is but you would have to have a pretty familiar understanding of it to adequately critique anyone using it, maybe you have such knowledge IDK. Jacob and I disagree on several points here, but we both have (to give my brother kudos he has way more expertise on scholasticism than I do) adequate understanding in philosophy to engage in a respectful but sometimes critical discussion of them. But we both agree where it matters. Point being he and I have done the research to engage in such, I've always found it delightful, conversations. In order for you to know what "vain philosophy" is you first have to know philosophy.
But that seems to be what you have a problem with, any philosophy. But let's get back to my first point. If anyone before the Reformation is bad than how do you explain several points? They used people, like Aquinas, that came before them. So either you have some insight that they did not, nor would they agree with, but they're Reformation returned the gospel to the church by a methodology that you're saying is "Bible only" but they were too ignorant to see ultimately thats what they did (despite disagreeing with you on the value of people who came before)?
This insight, which seems to me to be largely and almost exclusively, is an American thing popularized by Fundamentalists in the early parts of the 20th century. This insight was lost almost exclusively from the Apostles to the Fundamentalists. I say that because the logical consequences of what seems to be your opinion is that despite the Reformers and Puritans disagreeing with you on the value of those that came before they got it right on "sola scriptura" (they just didn'ttake it far enough). A further consequence would be that they started us on the right path but it took Fundamentalists in the 20th century to finish the Reformation on this and thus give us a correct way to view history, I say Fundamentalists because they are the first to popularize this in America. If I misunderstand you please correct me. Now one more problem I see, what to do with the Apostolic fathers? RC or saved? Problem being they learned directly from the Apostles, but since they came before the Reformation they probably aren't saved. Or you could come up with an arbitrary date of when the RCC started to preach a "gospel" sending people to hell (I think you made the comment about Aquinas and Augustine) but the date and the substance of the argument would be simplistic and arbitrary at best. Please correct any misunderstandings I have of your view.
I tried to pinpoint the middle problem I spoke about and hopefully show it really is a bigger problem for the otherside. The person who above me spoke of "a lack of specificity" you're dead on and I hope this post focuses on what's really being said and how problematic it can be. If I or anyone else is misunderstanding you than perhaps being a bit more specific on your thoughts might alleviate that.
 
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