A Question of about Vos's Reformed Dogmatics

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HeShoudHaveDominion

Puritan Board Freshman
In the first volumn of Vos's Reformed Dogmatics, there is a Q&A :

10. What do the ancients teach concerning God’s being?

a)As has been noted above, we cannot give a definition of God’s being. After all, every definition presupposes a higher concept of genus and a distinction between a concept of genus and a concept of species, as well as a composition of the two. Now there is nothing higher than God, and God is simple, without composition. b)There is no distinction in God between
between essence and existing, between essence and being, between essence and substance, between substance and its attributes. God is most pure and most simple act.

Vos, Geerhardus J.. Reformed Dogmatics: Theology Proper . Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.


My question is: why in the last sentense, Vos call God an act? Thanks a lot for your help!​
 
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Miller

Puritan Board Freshman
It's from the act/potency distinction. There is no potency (potential) in God as he is perfect. He cannot become perfecter, so he is pure act or actuality.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
It's from the act/potency distinction. There is no potency (potential) in God as he is perfect. He cannot become perfecter, so he is pure act or actuality.
Are His attributes seperate and distinct though from his Being?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Are His attributes seperate and distinct though from his Being?

They are not really distinct from his being. I am using "real" in the Platonic sense, not in the everyday sense. Following Francisco Suarez, you can say they are modally distinct.

transcendentals: the properties of being can be identified as “transcendentals.” These are properties which must be predicated of all and, therefore, also of each and every being. Being is transcendent: it is the ultimate principle and/or category of all beings. Being is not a “thing” and so there cannot be a “real” distinction between being and things (Muller, volume 3, 284-285).
  • ens
  • res
  • aliud; other
  • aliquid; being something
  • unum; a being is one in itself
  • verum; it is true in that it corresponds with its goal
  • bonum; it is good because it moves toward its goal

This allows the Reformed to work through the problem of realiter predication: all of these “transcendentals” reduce to one another without becoming synonymous with one another. Yet they do allow distinctions—a being is other than not-being; a being is other than not-itself.

A realiter distinction is a distinction between two things. Being, though, is not a thing and so is not reduced to realiter distinctions.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
They are not really distinct from his being. I am using "real" in the Platonic sense, not in the everyday sense. Following Francisco Suarez, you can say they are modally distinct.

transcendentals: the properties of being can be identified as “transcendentals.” These are properties which must be predicated of all and, therefore, also of each and every being. Being is transcendent: it is the ultimate principle and/or category of all beings. Being is not a “thing” and so there cannot be a “real” distinction between being and things (Muller, volume 3, 284-285).
  • ens
  • res
  • aliud; other
  • aliquid; being something
  • unum; a being is one in itself
  • verum; it is true in that it corresponds with its goal
  • bonum; it is good because it moves toward its goal

This allows the Reformed to work through the problem of realiter predication: all of these “transcendentals” reduce to one another without becoming synonymous with one another. Yet they do allow distinctions—a being is other than not-being; a being is other than not-itself.

A realiter distinction is a distinction between two things. Being, though, is not a thing and so is not reduced to realiter distinctions.
We can know God as a Being and a Person through Jesus and the scriptures, correct?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I have a problem with Bavink saying there are no distinctions in God. Distinction does mean separation, which denies simplicity. He makes distinctions in the quote, we can't think or talk in any other way. Also I don't think he meant act the same way Barth did, which I know had nothing to do with the OP.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I have a problem with Bavink saying there are no distinctions in God. Distinction does mean separation, which denies simplicity. He makes distinctions in the quote, we can't think or talk in any other way. Also I don't think he meant act the same way Barth did, which I know had nothing to do with the OP.

There are several ways we can gloss the word "distinctions." There are no real distinctions in God, real being understood as positing two different entities. Otherwise, we have polytheism.

On the other hand, we need something a bit stronger than conceptual distinctions, pace Scotus. Francisco Suarez articulated something like "modal" distinctions.

Bavinck had read Suarez, so it's likely he had that in mind.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
There are several ways we can gloss the word "distinctions." There are no real distinctions in God, real being understood as positing two different entities. Otherwise, we have polytheism.

On the other hand, we need something a bit stronger than conceptual distinctions, pace Scotus. Francisco Suarez articulated something like "modal" distinctions.

Bavinck had read Suarez, so it's likely he had that in mind.
I agree. We make logical distinctions not ontological distinctions.
 
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