On the reception of Aquinas, doctrine of God, etc.

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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
In order not to derail the Ukraine thread, I thought to answer some questions here.

Fair, but it should be stated that Feser is a Roman Catholic, so I wouldn't necessarily think his explanation is going to be the right answer either.

Perhaps, but Feser's analysis was more or less air tight. Johnson was saying things like Plotinus didn't leave behind any writings. That was one of the bloodiest reviews I've ever read.

This is interesting to hear. Can I ask an honest question here since I am not nearly as well read as you are (no sarcasm implied at all, I mean this completely). Do you believe Aquinas was saved? Did he believe the true gospel? Perhaps that is too simplistic?
Yes. He had a defective view of justification, but so do most Wesleyans. If we say that he is going to hell (or already in hell) because of that, then we need to say that everyone in the middle ages went to hell. I'm not ready to go that far.

I honestly will appreciate it. I am trying to get a better handle on this whole controversy and unfortunately as you mentioned, there has not really been true interaction between the two sides. This would actually be a debate worth having between White and someone from the other side, or any two others that hold the appropriate viewpoints. If there is stuff I should go read, I can do that too.

That's not entirely true. Strachan, Johnson, and White have done zero critical analysis of Thomas and his leading interpreters. White even mentioned me on the dividing line on historical theology. I said the reason we are more favorable to Thomas today is that Richard Muller has done serious work showing how much the Reformed orthodox received Thomas. Not surprisingly, White completely misunderstood what I said.

The thing is, White and Co., have not shown they understand the Reformation sources after Calvin.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
In order not to derail the Ukraine thread, I thought to answer some questions here.
I appreciate the time you put into responding to my inquiries.
Perhaps, but Feser's analysis was more or less air tight. Johnson was saying things like Plotinus didn't leave behind any writings. That was one of the bloodiest reviews I've ever read.
Understood
Yes. He had a defective view of justification, but so do most Wesleyans. If we say that he is going to hell (or already in hell) because of that, then we need to say that everyone in the middle ages went to hell. I'm not ready to go that far.
I think there is a difference though in rejecting 5 point Calvinism (or however you want to label what the Bible teaches on soteriology) and still believing salvation is by faith alone (even though Wesley would be inconsistent here) versus entrusting yourself to a sacramental system. How do you get around this being a violation of the Galatian heresy? The Bible seems extremely clear on what the basic gospel is (faith alone through Christ alone). The Bible also warns about philosophy coming in and corrupting that simplicity. It is to someone's destruction if they abandon what the Bible teaches no matter smart or brilliant someone is (in fact the Bible seems to indicate earthly intelligence in some cases can be to our determent because we start to think ourselves smarter than God). Men are always trying to create new ways for them to justify themselves. In terms of the middle ages, we are talking about a majority of people who could barely read or even understand Latin in the first place. It is possible they heard trust in Jesus and that is exactly what they did. However, neither of us were there and we don't have any inspired writings from that time period, so we will never know the full story of what was actually going on at the time. However, I trust the true gospel was still present and the remnant was still there, God is ever building his church. In any case, I am not making a final judgment call on his soul, that is God's business, but if he put in faith in something other than Jesus for salvation, then I would be very concerned. Perhaps I am ignorant on what Thomas actually believed were the grounds of his salvation. To note, Thomas had access to the Bible and the ability to read it. More light equals more punishment if we willingly reject it.

That's not entirely true. Strachan, Johnson, and White have done zero critical analysis of Thomas and his leading interpreters. White even mentioned me on the dividing line on historical theology. I said the reason we are more favorable to Thomas today is that Richard Muller has done serious work showing how much the Reformed orthodox received Thomas. Not surprisingly, White completely misunderstood what I said.
This is helpful as I was not entirely sure of the context of White's comment was.
The thing is, White and Co., have not shown they understand the Reformation sources after Calvin.
This could be a fair comment. I don't know enough at this point to confirm or deny, but I also trust you are telling the truth.
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I think there is a difference though in rejecting 5 point Calvinism (or however you want to label what the Bible teaches on soteriology) and still believing salvation is by faith alone (even though Wesley would be inconsistent here) versus entrusting yourself to a sacramental system. How do you get around this being a violation of the Galatian heresy?

I simply acknowledge that's how everyone for over a thousand years believed. Aquinas isn't unique in that regard. And whether he is saved or not is irrelevant to the fact that White is rejecting the standard Christian view of divine simplicity.
Perhaps I am ignorant on what Thomas actually believed were the grounds of his salvation. To note, Thomas had access to the Bible and the ability to read it. More light equals more punishment if we willingly reject it.

His views are fairly standard from Augustine until Luther, and I have outlined them here. When he would read the word iustificare, he would see it as "make righteous." In Latin that is literally what it means. He could then turn the tables on us and ask how we reject the clear meaning of the word. We would respond with arguments from the Greek, but that's a moot point since view had access to Greek until Constantinople fell.
This could be a fair comment. I don't know enough at this point to confirm or deny, but I also trust you are telling the truth.

It's pretty easy to verify. Are Owen and White and them interacting with Muller, Steinmetz, Trueman, and Oberman on these issues? The answer is clear. They aren't. White deliberately punted on that when he brought up my name.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
It's pretty easy to verify. Are Owen and White and them interacting with Muller, Steinmetz, Trueman, and Oberman on these issues? The answer is clear. They aren't. White deliberately punted on that when he brought up my name.

I think you said elsewhere that anyone who's Reformed and claims to speak on its behalf but hasn't dealt with Richard Muller's works...is an ignoramus.

Finishing up the first volume of Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, I see what you mean and you are absolutely correct.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
I simply acknowledge that's how everyone for over a thousand years believed. Aquinas isn't unique in that regard. And whether he is saved or not is irrelevant to the fact that White is rejecting the standard Christian view of divine simplicity.


His views are fairly standard from Augustine until Luther, and I have outlined them here. When he would read the word iustificare, he would see it as "make righteous." In Latin that is literally what it means. He could then turn the tables on us and ask how we reject the clear meaning of the word. We would respond with arguments from the Greek, but that's a moot point since view had access to Greek until Constantinople fell.


It's pretty easy to verify. Are Owen and White and them interacting with Muller, Steinmetz, Trueman, and Oberman on these issues? The answer is clear. They aren't. White deliberately punted on that when he brought up my name.
There is nothing I disagree with in what you wrote. I was just asking the questions to get your thoughts on the subject. Thanks.
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I think you said elsewhere that anyone who's Reformed and claims to speak on its behalf but hasn't dealt with Richard Muller's works...is an ignoramus.

Finishing up the first volume of Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, I see what you mean and you are absolutely correct.
At best such a person would have a surface level understanding of Calvin and Luther, and that's it.

Here is the problem for these anti-scholastic guys: The Westminster Confession is a scholastic document. It calls the foreknowledge of God the "First Cause." If you hate all things Aristotelian, that is an insurmountable problem.

John Owen is a scholastic writer. Volume 10 of his works drips with Thomism, especially on the doctrine of God.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
Finishing up the first volume of Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, I see what you mean and you are absolutely correct.
@RamistThomist @Brian T Where does one get these books in print? It appears they are out of print, which is a shame if they are so important to this discussion. I see you can get ebook versions of them, but I tend to like the print versions. I suppose if there is no option, then I will go after the ebook versions. It is a shame though that these books are so expensive. This might be one of the reasons people have not read them.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
@RamistThomist @Brian T Where does one get these books in print? It appears they are out of print, which is a shame if they are so important to this discussion. I see you can get ebook versions of them, but I tend to like the print versions. I suppose if there is no option, then I will go after the ebook versions. It is a shame though that these books are so expensive. This might be one of the reasons people have not read them.

Yeah. That's a big problem. You will hear people perhaps naively say "Baker said they are going to reissue a new edition." Baker's been saying that for almost a decade now.

Vols 1 and 3 are the most important. However, there are some alternatives that explore the same angles:

Richard, Guy D. The Supremacy of God in the Theology of Samuel Rutherford. He covers the same methodological ground.
Trueman, Carl. The Claims of Truth. An analysis of John Owen's response to Rutherford.
Junius, Franciscus. The Nature of True Theology.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
Yeah. That's a big problem. You will hear people perhaps naively say "Baker said they are going to reissue a new edition." Baker's been saying that for almost a decade now.

Vols 1 and 3 are the most important. However, there are some alternatives that explore the same angles:

Richard, Guy D. The Supremacy of God in the Theology of Samuel Rutherford. He covers the same methodological ground.
Trueman, Carl. The Claims of Truth. An analysis of John Owen's response to Rutherford.
Junius, Franciscus. The Nature of True Theology.
Ok thanks, I will look for the others. I will also keep a look out for volumes 1 and 3 of Muller.

It would be great if Baker would make good on their statement as well though.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
@RamistThomist @Brian T Where does one get these books in print? It appears they are out of print, which is a shame if they are so important to this discussion. I see you can get ebook versions of them, but I tend to like the print versions. I suppose if there is no option, then I will go after the ebook versions. It is a shame though that these books are so expensive. This might be one of the reasons people have not read them.

Yeah, they are almost impossible to find in print. On Amazon right now, you're looking at shelling out at least $1,499 for the 4-volume set (2nd edition), which is a travesty!

https://www.amazon.com/Post-Reformation-Reformed-Dogmatics-Development-Orthodoxy/dp/0801026180

You might be able to find some copies of the first edition of the first two volumes on eBay, but there is a lot more material in the 2nd edition.

I got so tired of looking, I ended up purchasing Logos bible software (I was already an Accordance user) and spent $159.99 for the whole 4-volume set of the 2nd edition.

Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (4 vols.)

Glad I did. That's probably the only viable way to get it these days, and I've become a huge fan of Logos in the past few months.
 
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retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
Yeah, they are almost impossible to find in print. On Amazon right now, you're looking at shelling out at least $1,499 for the 4-volume set (2nd edition), which is a travesty!

https://www.amazon.com/Post-Reformation-Reformed-Dogmatics-Development-Orthodoxy/dp/0801026180

You might be able to find some copies of the first edition of the first two volumes of the first edition on eBay, but there is a lot more material in the 2nd edition.

I got so tired of looking, I ended up purchasing Logos bible software (I was already an Accordance user) and spent $159.99 for the whole 4-volume set of the 2nd edition.

Glad I did. That's probably the only viable way to get it these days.
As far as I can tell, this is the cheapest way to get the latest editions of the entire set that I can see.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
As far as I can tell, this is the cheapest way to get the latest editions of the entire set that I can see.

I was resistant to get Logos at first since I had been using Accordance for 3 years and already had a large library of commentaries in it. And plus, I am old school and tend to prefer hard copies of books, not electronic ones.

But man, once I bit the bullet and purchased Logos, I am glad I did. Logos has tons more material on offer (Muller's 4-volume set being a perfect example) than Accordance ever will. I've already got over 1,200 works in Logos (far more than I have in Accordance after owning and using it for 3 years) and I've only had Logos a few months now.

BTW, another work of Muller's that's great to have is his Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology, which, luckily, IS readily available and at a decent price. And it is also available in Logos, which has come in handy as I've often had both PRRD and his Latin and Greek terms open in separate windows while reading the former. Very convenient!
 
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Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Yeah. That's a big problem. You will hear people perhaps naively say "Baker said they are going to reissue a new edition." Baker's been saying that for almost a decade now.

Isn't there also a rumor that Muller was/is working on a fifth volume?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Isn't there also a rumor that Muller was/is working on a fifth volume?

Yes, and it was supposed to deal with the Divine Will. I don't think it will materialize as such. Muller has released three books on the will/predestination theme in the past few years, though
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
@Brian T Question about Logos. If I purchase the books, is that all I need to purchase? Or, is there some type of logos software I need to purchase as well?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
@Brian T Question about Logos. If I purchase the books, is that all I need to purchase? Or, is there some type of logos software I need to purchase as well?

I'm not an expert on Logos, but I think it can work with the generic software. I think the higher grades have more in the package, which you can purchase separately. I just have Greek and Hebrew on my Logos app.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not an expert on Logos, but I think it can work with the generic software. I think the higher grades have more in the package, which you can purchase separately. I just have Greek and Hebrew on my Logos app.
So, I can purchase the Muller books without needing to purchase anything?
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
So, I can purchase the Muller books without needing to purchase anything?

Here's what I did. I shelled out $99 for Logos 9 Fundamentals starter package, which includes 70+ Bibles and commentaries. Once that downloaded and installed, I was off the races with buying everything I could from their store. I think, though, I might have been able to just download Logos by itself and not mess with a starter package at all.

At the link below, you can see if you can get the software itself installed:


You will set up an account with your email address; the software downloads and installs very quickly. Once you've got the software, you can head right to the store and start buying stuff. When I purchase books, they are downloaded and indexed in my library in under a minute.
 
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retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
Alright I got them. Thanks for the help gentlemen. Now because of my reading speed it will just take the next 3 years to read them :)
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Alright I got them. Thanks for the help gentlemen. Now because of my reading speed it will just take the next 3 years to read them :)

So were you able to just get the basic Logos software, free from that link, and then grabbed the Muller? If so, I will want to remember that for the next time I am asked. I will be able to save people some money.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
So were you able to just get the basic Logos software, free from that link, and then grabbed the Muller? If so, I will want to remember that for the next time I am asked. I will be able to save people some money.
Yes, the free version of logos worked. You basically just need a login and then the book shop is open to you.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, the free version of logos worked. You basically just need a login and then the book shop is open to you.

Yeah, I didn't think I needed that fundamentals package to get up and running, but it was a good investment.

I love that there are some really nice Reformed packages available, as well as multi-volume sets by all the great Reformed heavyweights. Logos has burned a big hole in my wallet for the past few months, that's for sure.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
At best such a person would have a surface level understanding of Calvin and Luther, and that's it.

Here is the problem for these anti-scholastic guys: The Westminster Confession is a scholastic document. It calls the foreknowledge of God the "First Cause." If you hate all things Aristotelian, that is an insurmountable problem.

John Owen is a scholastic writer. Volume 10 of his works drips with Thomism, especially on the doctrine of God.
First off I agree with your post but I do have some questions. If the Aristotle/Thomas model (A/T model) is indispensable for Orthodox/Reformed theology (and it is to some degree) than which school of A/T model scholars can we use? Rahner's Thomism is not Gilson's Thomism, so which one, if either, is the orthodox one that we may use to be Reformed?
From what I understand, and I'm horribly ignorant here, there isn't a solid enough agreement amongst scholars in the A/T model to even speak of "THE" A/T model. If that's the case, and I could just be ignorant here, than who decides which school of the A/T model is acceptable and not merely arbitrarily chosen?
If we say the A/T model used by the Reformed scholastics, fair enough but does that involve rejecting all or most of scholarly developments in the A/T model since than? What about developments in the field of metaphysics since than, are those off limits and who decides what is and isn't?
You see I ask only in a rhetorical sense these questions to point out the difficulties involved in the A/T model that I don't think many people see. I'm not agreeing with White etc only pointing out some difficulties.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
First off I agree with your post but I do have some questions. If the Aristotle/Thomas model (A/T model) is indispensable for Orthodox/Reformed theology (and it is to some degree) than which school of A/T model scholars can we use? Rahner's Thomism is not Gilson's Thomism, so which one, if either, is the orthodox one that we may use to be Reformed?

It's not simply that we use Thomas and Aristotle. As noted above, I am not a Thomist. As Muller and Van Asselt have shown, the ectypal distinction owes more to Scotus than it does Thomas. Rather, all of this is the current from which everyone drew.
From what I understand, and I'm horribly ignorant here, there isn't a solid enough agreement amongst scholars in the A/T model to even speak of "THE" A/T model. If that's the case, and I could just be ignorant here, than who decides which school of the A/T model is acceptable and not merely arbitrarily chosen?

Very true, which is why we aren't offering such a model.
If we say the A/T model used by the Reformed scholastics, fair enough but does that involve rejecting all or most of scholarly developments in the A/T model since than

Not necessarily. I don't think modern philosophy, whether analytical or contintental, is all that good or worthwhile. I do like some developments made by guys like Oliver Crisp, but Crisp sees much of his project as reclaiming the classical view of God.
and who decides what is and isn't?

Anything that gets rid of essence, nature, or posits a view of knowledge that compromises the ectypal distinction is probably off limits.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Here is an example or two of improvements in philosophy. Take the debate over religious language around the middle of the 20th century. In other words, God-talk can't be verified, so it is either meaningless (agnosticism) or known only in the community of faith (which we see in some hippie postmodern communes today). Plantinga and his school effectively buried this nonsense. That really couldn't have happened without the sharp and clear thinking that comes from analytical reasoning.

Thomas Morris (although he blocked me on twitter) did the same thing to liberal Christologies.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
It's not simply that we use Thomas and Aristotle. As noted above, I am not a Thomist. As Muller and Van Asselt have shown, the ectypal distinction owes more to Scotus than it does Thomas. Rather, all of this is the current from which everyone drew.


Very true, which is why we aren't offering such a model.


Not necessarily. I don't think modern philosophy, whether analytical or contintental, is all that good or worthwhile. I do like some developments made by guys like Oliver Crisp, but Crisp sees much of his project as reclaiming the classical view of God.


Anything that gets rid of essence, nature, or posits a view of knowledge that compromises the ectypal distinction is probably off limits.
Fair enough but I may say if there is no model than isn't the method itself called into question because of instability in agreement? Just playing devil's advocate here. If there is no model than that could imply no method. No agreed upon method than no reason to rule out other methods. Devil's advocate again.
Again I have no problem with Aristotle or Aquinas only restricting, which I don't have you in mind here, our metaphysics to them without taking into consideration the complexity of the situation into view.
I've tried to find Jared Oliphint's review of Dr. Dolezal's book on divine simplicity but I can't. He slams Dolezal's book for the same things I'm bringing up here. Now I personally wouldn't slam somebody, per se, for appearing to be ignorant of the philophical literature but that's what he does. Again I'm sorry I can't provide quotes but I can't find it.
But it is a review like ( not comparing Dr. Dolezal to Dawkins) "if you don't know the complexity of the philophical situation why enter the debate?" Alvin Plantinga destroyed Dawkin's book "The God Delusion" for similar reasons. He, Oliphint, says (again can't quote something I can't find) something like "You're assuming this T/A model but not defending it or appearing to be cognizant of the complexity of scholarship in this area (which is problematic)". Again if anyone wishes to block this because I can't give direct quotes I'll understand. I agree with you only raising questions I would like to see pinned down by critics.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Fair enough but I may say if there is no model than isn't the method itself called into question because of instability in agreement? Just playing devil's advocate here. If there is no model than that could imply no method. No agreed upon method than no reason to rule out other methods. Devil's advocate again.
Again I have no problem with Aristotle or Aquinas only restricting, which I don't have you in mind here, our metaphysics to them without taking into consideration the complexity of the situation into view.
I've tried to find Jared Oliphint's review of Dr. Dolezal's book on divine simplicity but I can't. He slams Dolezal's book for the same things I'm bringing up here. Now I personally wouldn't slam somebody, per se, for appearing to be ignorant of the philophical literature but that's what he does. Again I'm sorry I can't provide quotes but I can't find it.
But it is a review like ( not comparing Dr. Dolezal to Dawkins) "if you don't know the complexity of the philophical situation why enter the debate?" Alvin Plantinga destroyed Dawkin's book "The God Delusion" for similar reasons. He, Oliphint, says (again can't quote something I can't find) something like "You're assuming this T/A model but not defending it or appearing to be cognizant of the complexity of scholarship in this area (which is problematic)". Again if anyone wishes to block this because I can't give direct quotes I'll understand. I agree with you only raising questions I would like to see pinned down by critics.
I’m on my phone. Longer reply later. As I’ve said many times; no one is restricting theology to T/A. Rather T/A was appreciated by our Reformed fathers at times. Getting rid of this appreciation makes one a methodological Socinian, and also gets rid of WCF 5.2
 
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