I am late again: from returning to work after the Easter Break it has been crazy. One of my colleagues gave me this advice:
I suppose there is no hurry for you to regain your productivity, there’s certainly little reward for it.
So I’m going to take a few minutes and look at the usual theological posts and a bit more Calvin. Then back into being productive.
Briggs last post of Summa was in March, but I missed it, so here it is.
SOLUTION OF THE AUTHORITIES WHICH ARIUS PROPOSED FOR HIMSELF
1 Since, however, truth cannot be truth’s contrary, it is obvious that the points of Scriptural truth introduced by the Arians to confirm their error cannot be helpful to their teaching. For, since it was shown from divine Scripture that the essence and divine nature of the Father and Son are numerically identical, and according to this each is called true God, it must be that the Father and Son cannot be two gods, but one God.
For, if there were many gods, a necessary consequence would be the partition in each of the essence of divinity, just as in two men the humanity differs in number from one to the other; and the more so because the divine nature is not one thing and God Himself another. This was shown above. From this it follows necessarily that, since there exists one divine nature in the Father and the Son, the Father and the Son are one God. Therefore, although we confess that the Father is God and the Son God, we are not withdrawing from the teaching which sets down that there is one only God, which we established both by reasonings and by authorities in Book I. Hence, although there is one only true God, we confess that this is predicated of the Father and of the Son.
2 When our Lord, therefore, speaking to the Father, says “that they may know You the only true God,” it is not so to be understood that the Father alone is true God, as though the Son is not true God (the contrary is proved clearly by Scriptural testimony); but it must be understood that the one sole true deity belongs to the Father, in such wise, nonetheless, that the Son is not excluded therefrom. Hence, it is significant that our Lord does not say: “that they may know the one only true God,” as though He alone be God, but said: “that they may know You,” and added “the only true God” to show that the Father, whose Son He insisted He was, is the God in whom one finds that only true divinity.
And because a true son must be of the same nature as his father, it follows that the only true divinity belongs to the Son, rather than that the Son is excluded from it. Wherefore John, also, at the end of his first canonical Epistle (5:20)—expounding, as it were, these words of our Lord—attributes to the true Son each of the things which our Lord here says of the Father; namely, that He is true God and that in Him is eternal life. John says (5:20): “That we may know the true God, and may be in His true Son. He is the true God and life eternal.”
If the Son had nevertheless confessed that the Father alone is true God, one would not for this reason need to understand that the Son is excluded from true divinity. For, since the Father and Son are one God, as was shown, whatever is said of the Father by reason of divinity is the same as if it were said of the Son, and conversely. For, by reason of the fact that our Lord says: “No one knows the Son but the Father: neither does any one know the Father but the Son” (Mat. 11:27), it is not understood that the Father is excluded from knowledge of Himself, or that the Son is.
3 It is also clear from this that the true divinity of the Son is not excluded by the words of the Apostle: “Which in His times He shall show who is the Blessed and only Mighty, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” In these words the Father is not named, but that which is common to the Father and the Son. That the Son is the King of kings and Lord of lords is manifestly shown in the Apocalypse (19:13), which says: “He was clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood; and His name is called THE WORD OF GOD”; and adds below: “And He has on His garment and on His thigh written: KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16). Nor is the Son excluded from that which is added: “Who only has immortality,” since He also bestows immortality on those who believe in Him. Thus, John (11: 26) says: “Who believes in Me shall not die for ever.”
But what is added,” “Whom no man has seen, nor can see,” certainly is also suitable to the Son, since our Lord says: “No one knows the Son but the Father” (Mat. 11:27). To this it is not an objection that He appeared visibly, for this was according to the flesh. However, He is invisible in His deity just as the Father is; wherefore the Apostle says in the same Epistle (1 Tim. 3:16): “Evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh.” Nor are we forced to understand these sayings of the Father alone because it is said that there must be one who shows and another who is shown. The Son also shows Himself, for He says: “He that loves Me shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21.). Accordingly, we also say to Him: “Show us your face, and we shall be saved” (Ps. 79:4).
4 But how the saying of our Lord, “The Father is greater than I” must be understood we are taught by the Apostle. Since “greater” is referred to ‘lesser,” one must understand that this is said of the Son so far as He is lessened. Now, the Apostle shows that He is lessened by taking on the servile form—in such wise, however, that in the divine form He exists the equal of God the Father, for he says: “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:6-7). Nor is it wondrous if for this reason the Father be said to be greater than He, since He was even made lesser than the angels; the Apostle says: “We see Jesus, who was made a little lesser than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. 2:9).
From this it is also clear that in the same way the Son is said to be “subject to the Father”; namely, in His human nature. This is to be gathered from the very context of the expression. For the Apostle had already said: “For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead”; and afterwards he had subjoined: “Everyone shall rise in his own order: the firstfruits Christ, then they that are of Christ”; and later he added: “Afterwards the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father”; and when he has shown what sort of kingdom this is, namely, that things must be subject to it, he consequently subjoins: “When all things shall be subdued unto Him, then the Son also Himself shall be subject unto Him that put all things under Him” (1 Cor. 15:23-28).
The very context of the expression, therefore, shows that this ought to be understood of Christ so far as He is man, for thus did He die and rise again. Now, in His divinity, since “whatever He does the Father does,” as was shown, He Himself also subjects all things to Himself; wherefore the Apostle says: “We look for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowliness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby also He is able to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
5 From the fact that the Father is said in the Scriptures “to give!” to the Son—from which it follows that He “receives”—one cannot show any indigence in Him.” But this is required by His being the Son, for He could not be called Son if He were not begotten by the Father. For everything which is generated receives from the generator the nature of the generator. Therefore, by this giving of the Father to the Son is understood nothing but the generation of the Son in which the Father gave the Son His nature. This very thing can be understood from that which is given. For our Lord says: “That which My Father has given Me is greater than all” (John 10:29).
But that which is greater than all is the divine nature, in which the Son is equal to the Father. And this our Lord’s very words show, for He had said before that no man should pluck His sheep from His hand (John 10:28-30). For proof of this He introduces the word stated; namely, that which is given to Him by the Father is greater than all, and that “out of the hand of My Father”, as He adds, “nothing can be plucked.” From this it follows that neither can it be plucked from the hand of the Son. But this would not follow unless through that which is given to Him by the Father He were equal to the Father. And so, to explain this more clearly, He adds: “I and the Father are one.”
Similarly, the Apostle also says that God “has given Him a name which is above all names: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10). But the name higher than all names which every creature venerates is none other than the name of divinity. By this giving, therefore, the generation itself is understood in which the Father gave the Son true divinity. The same thing is shown by His saying that “all things are delivered to Me by My Father” (Mat. 11:27). But all things would not be given to Him unless “all the fullness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9) which is in the Father were in the Son.
Calvin is continuing on the issues of providence. Bruce Charlton has reminded us this week that thinking of things being due to luck or randomness is lazy thinking, one we need to shun. If Aquinas was schooling the monophysites — from whom the Muslims are descended — then Calvin is schooling the pagans of this age.
This includes dealing with warnings for repentance. There is no luck, but there are predictions: unless you change, this will happen. Unsaid, but there, is that God wants no man to die, but all to repent.
Not all will.
12. On the Providence of God, in so far as conducive to the solid instruction and consolation of believers (for, as to satisfying the curiosity of foolish men, it is a thing which cannot be done, and ought not to be attempted), enough would have been said, did not a few passages remain which seem to insinuate, contrary to the view which we have expounded, that the counsel of God is not firm and stable, but varies with the changes of sublunary affairs. First, in reference to the Providence of God, it is said that he repented of having made man (Gen. 6:6), and of having raised Saul to the kingdom (1 Sam. 15:11), and that he will repent of the evil which he had resolved to inflict on his people as soon as he shall have perceived some amendment in them (Jer. 18:8). Secondly, his decrees are sometimes said to be annulled. He had by Jonah proclaimed to the Ninevites, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” but, immediately on their repentance, he inclined to a more merciful sentence (Jonah 3:4ñ10). After he had, by the mouth of Isaiah, given Hezekiah intimation of his death, he was moved by his tears and prayers to defer it (Is. 38:15; 2 Kings 20:15). Hence many argue that God has not fixed human affairs by an eternal decree, but according to the merits of each individual, and as he deems right and just, disposes of each single year, and day, and hour. As to repentance, we must hold that it can no more exist in God than ignorance, or error, or impotence. If no man knowingly or willingly reduces himself to the necessity of repentance, we cannot attribute repentance to God without saying either that he knows not what is to happen, or that he cannot evade it, or that he rushes precipitately and inconsiderately into a resolution, and then forthwith regrets it. But so far is this from the meaning of the Holy Spirit, that in the very mention of repentance he declares that God is not influenced by any feeling of regret, that he is not a man that he should repent. And it is to be observed, that, in the same chapter, both things are so conjoined, that a comparison of the passages admirably removes the appearance of contradiction. When it is said that God repented of having made Saul king, the term change is used figuratively. Shortly after, it is added, “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent,” (1 Sam. 15:29). In these words, his immutability is plainly asserted without figure. Wherefore it is certain that, in administering human affairs, the ordination of God is perpetual and superior to every thing like repentance. That there might be no doubt of his constancy, even his enemies are forced to bear testimony to it. For, Balaam, even against his will, behaved to break forth into this exclamation, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Num. 23:19).
13. What then is meant by the term repentance? The very same that is meant by the other forms of expression, by which God is described to us humanly. Because our weakness cannot reach his height, any description which we receive of him must be lowered to our capacity in order to be intelligible. And the mode of lowering is to represent him not as he really is, but as we conceive of him. Though he is incapable of every feeling of perturbation, he declares that he is angry with the wicked. Wherefore, as when we hear that God is angry, we ought not to imagine that there is any emotion in him, but ought rather to consider the mode of speech accommodated to our sense, God appearing to us like one inflamed and irritated whenever he exercises Judgment, so we ought not to imagine any thing more under the term repentance than a change of action, men being wont to testify their dissatisfaction by such a change. Hence, because every change whatever among men is intended as a correction of what displeases, and the correction proceeds from repentance, the same term applied to God simply means that his procedure is changed. In the meantime, there is no inversion of his counsel or will, no change of his affection. What from eternity he had foreseen, approved, decreed, he prosecutes with unvarying uniformity, how sudden soever to the eye of man the variation may seem to be.
14. Nor does the Sacred History, while it relates that the destruction which had been proclaimed to the Ninevites was remitted, and the life of Hezekiah, after an intimation of death, prolonged, imply that the decrees of God were annulled. Those who think so labour under delusion as to the meaning of threatenings, which, though they affirm simply, nevertheless contain in them a tacit condition dependent on the result. Why did the Lord send Jonah to the Ninevites to predict the overthrow of their city? Why did he by Isaiah give Hezekiah intimation of his death? He might have destroyed both them and him without a message to announce the disaster. He had something else in view than to give them a warning of death, which might let them see it at a distance before it came. It was because he did not wish them destroyed but reformed, and thereby saved from destruction. When Jonah prophesies that in forty days Nineveh will be overthrown, he does it in order to prevent the overthrow. When Hezekiah is forbidden to hope for longer life, it is that he may obtain longer life. Who does not now see that, by threatening of this kind, God wished to arouse those to repentance whom he terrified, that they might escape the Judgment which their sins deserved? If this is so, the very nature of the case obliges us to supply a tacit condition in a simple denunciation. This is even confirmed by analogous cases. The Lord rebuking King Abimelech for having carried off the wife of Abraham, uses these words: “Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.” But, after Abimelech’s excuse, he thus speaks: “Restore the man his wife, for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live; and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou and all that art thine,” (Gen. 20:3, 7). You see that, by the first announcement, he makes a deep impression on his mind, that he may render him eager to give satisfaction, and that by the second he clearly explains his will. Since the other passages may be similarly explained, you must not infer from them that the Lord derogated in any respect from his former counsel, because he recalled what he had promulgated. When, by denouncing punishment, he admonishes to repentance those whom he wishes to spare, he paves the way for his eternal decree, instead of varying it one whit either in will or in language. The only difference is, that he does not express, in so many syllables, what is easily understood. The words of Isaiah must remain true, “The Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27).
Matthew Briggs notes that “The father and I are one” (John 10:30) is one of the easiest verses to memorize.
He would also argue, correctly, that statistical modeling is a sign of ignorance. When you understand the mechanism, you can make precise mathematical predictions and demonstrate them.
Our need for statisical methodologies is a sign that we don’t know all.
In particular, we don’t know the mind of God.