The End for which God Created the World (Edwards)

Status
Not open for further replies.

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
This text I am reviewing is found in volume 1 of the Banner of Truth edition. I am not reviewing Piper's God's Passion for His Glory. I did read that in 2003 or 2004 and I remember enjoying it, but this review is independent of that.

While Edwards doesn’t use this analogy, this work can be seen as an end-run around the “full bucket paradox.” If God is already infinitely glorious, then why does he need to create the world? True, Christians have always said he did so because of love and freedom. But Edwards takes it a step further. Not only does God create the world for his own glory, he creates it so that is glory may be delighted in.

Edwards moves the creature’s own happiness into God’s end by noting that the creature’s happiness consists in delighting in God. Before we continue we should clarify some of Edwards' terms. A chief end is opposite to an inferior end. An ultimate end is opposite to a subordinate end. An ultimate end is that which an agent seeks for its own sake.

Thesis: Before God created the world he had some good in view as a consequence of the world’s existence.

God’s dispositions

This is a current topic in Edwards' discussions. Did Edwards abandon the traditional "pure act" view of God for a more "dispositional ontology," per Sang Lee? I'm not sure. I don't think Edwards abandoned traditional accounts of simplicity, but he does use categories in ways that Aquinas never would have used them.

* The moral rectitude of (God’s) disposition/inclination/affection chiefly consists in regard to himself (I.1).

* God’s communication of his attributes is an emanation ad extra. These emnations are multiplications of God’s goodness.

* Does God have a dispositional ontology? It seems like it at times. Edwards writes, “We may suppose, that a disposition in God, as an original property of his nature, to an emanation of his own infinite fullness, was what excited him to create the world; and so, that the emanation itself was aimed at by him as a last end of the creation.” (100)

It is interesting that Edwards chooses to speak of “property” and not the more common term “attribute.” Of course, Edwards believed God has attributes, but it is neat to see him anticipate modern analytic theology. Edwards speaks of God as “being-in-general” whose infinity contains all perfections and excellencies (p. 98 in Banner of Truth edition).

The argument in short:

(1) God delights in his attributes (99).

(1*) God’s delighting in his attributes is a particular end.

(2) God wants us to delight in his attributes.

(3) God’s pleasure in these things is in “some sense” increased.

(4) A being that loves himself necessarily loves love to himself.

(5) God has a disposition (!) to cause his own infinite fullness to flow forth (105).

Chapter 2 is easier to read, as Edwards gives a Scriptural index of God’s glory. Section 7 is a conclusion to the whole work.

(6) God does not want his perfections to lie dormant.

Edwards ends with a beautiful reflection:

The emanation or communication of the divine fullness, consisting in the knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in him, has relation indeed both to God and the creature: but it has relation to God as its fountain, as the thing communicated, is something of his internal fullness. The water in the stream is something of the fountain; and the beams of the sun are something of the sun. And again they have relation to God as their object: for the knowledge communicated is the knowledge of God; and the love communicated, is the love of God: and the happiness communicated, is joy in God. In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; his fullness is received and returned. Here is both an emanation and re-emanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end.


Edwards gives an account of aesthetics: moral excellency is the beauty of the divine nature (101).
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Never have read Edwards may I ask if he interacts with God and His justice, in so far as not being proper attributes of God?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Never have read Edwards may I ask if he interacts with God and His justice, in so far as not being proper attributes of God?

He does interact with God's justice and believes it is a property of God. But unless it is more specific I don't know what you are asking.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
He does interact with God's justice and believes it is a property of God. But unless it is more specific I don't know what you are asking.

I am asking because many think God is naturally an angry God, and this anger is a proper attribute in the proper divine sense.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I am asking because many think God is naturally an angry God, and this anger is a proper attribute in the proper divine sense.

I'm not aware of where Edwards would say God has "anger" as an essential property. If he does say that, he would be using "anger" analogically. God certainly has justice and that justice includes wrath.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
I'm not aware of where Edwards would say God has "anger" as an essential property. If he does say that, he would be using "anger" analogically. God certainly has justice and that justice includes wrath.

No doubt God is just relative to His creation, though relative to Himself I think this would not be a property of God.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
No doubt God is just relative to His creation, though relative to Himself I think this would not be a property of God.

Also keep in mind on stronger simplicity models (Aquinas) all of God's properties are identical to each other. I don't hold that view because it creates problems.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Also depends on what "justice" means. Thinkers from Plato to Aquinas to Edwards would have said it includes proportionality of being as related to excellency. If that is what justice includes, then God is intrinsically just.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Also keep in mind on stronger simplicity models (Aquinas) all of God's properties are identical to each other. I don't hold that view because it creates problems.

Curious what problems? For instance are you saying that God is more holy than He is Good?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Curious what problems? For instance are you saying that God is more holy than He is Good?
.

That's a comparison relation, not an identity relation.

No. For example, God's property of creating the world is not identical to God's property of destroying the world.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
.

That's a comparison relation, not an identity relation.

No. For example, God's property of creating the world is not identical to God's property of destroying the world.

Could you define what you mean when you say God's property? :)
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So the substance is God Who possesses justness, right? If so did God manifest this justness to Himself before creation?

More or less. Older writers used justice in the sense of "fitness" or "rightness." They didn't mean it in the sense of responding to sin.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
More or less. Older writers used justice in the sense of "fitness" or "rightness." They didn't mean it in the sense of responding to sin.

So concerning what you wrote earlier......"God's property of creating the world is not identical to God's property of destroying the world." I believe that the property here is improper to the proper view of God.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So concerning what you wrote earlier......"God's property of creating the world is not identical to God's property of destroying the world." I believe that the property here is improper to the proper view of God.

The definition of property is neither true or false. It just is. But given extreme divine simplicity where everything is equal to everything (but only modally distinct), this problem doesn't go away.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
The definition of property is neither true or false. It just is. But given extreme divine simplicity where everything is equal to everything (but only modally distinct), this problem doesn't go away.

Once again what is the problem with having or holding to "extreme divine simplicity"? In other words, there is no problem at all in my view to such, and the only problems that arise is when one wishes to compromise simplicity at the alter of some type of mutable god or worse yet define God proper incorrectly.

I don't want to sound argumentative for that sake only, but only wish to defend Our God properly.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Once again what is the problem with having or holding to "extreme divine simplicity"? In other words, there is no problem at all in my view to such, and the only problems that arise is when one wishes to compromise simplicity at the alter of some type of mutable god or worse yet define God proper incorrectly.

I don't want to sound argumentative for that sake only, but only wish to defend Our God properly.

Case study:

1. If God is absolutely simple (P), then his act of will to create is identical with his essence (R).
2. If God’s act of will to create is identical with his essence (R), then his act of will to create is necessary. (Q)
3. If God is absolutely simple (P), then his act of will to create is necessary. (Q) (From 1,2 by Hypothetical Syllogism)
4. God is absolutely simple. (Premise S)
5. Therefore, God’s act of will to create is necessary (R). (From 3,4 by Modus Ponens)

s when one wishes to compromise simplicity at the alter of some type of mutable god or worse yet define God proper incorrectly.

I'm not compromising simplicity. I am simply (bad pun) not holding to the Thomist version.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top