The absolute simplicity of God's essence

 an alien philosophical intrusion from NeoPlatonism

 into scriptural teaching on the Godhead.


A theological black hole, from which no light escapes.

'To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.
He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.' (Job 5.11-13)

'Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.' (1 Cor.1.20-21)

'Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.' (1 Cor.3.18-19a)

'As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments  [στοιχεια stoicheia - fundamental axioms] of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.' (Col 2.6-9)

A scriptural critique of the doctrine of essential Divine Simplicity

Absolute simplicity is a cardinal axiom of the first principle in NeoPlatonism

Plotinus (204/5–270) - in whom Divine Simplicity finds its most rigorous expression.

'This supreme principle is designated “One"‚ it is removed from every sort of determination and is therefore absolutely simple.'

The Platonic Tradition, Maria Gatti in The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus, Ed Lloyd Gerson, CUP 1996, UK.

 'He shares with Plato the principle that eternal complexity or multiplicity cannot be ultimate. That is, there must be some first principle of all that is absolutely simple and stands in some sort of causal relation to the complex that accounts for eternal truth.'

Plotinus, courtesy of Wiki

Introduction L.Gerson. Ibid.

Plotinus 5th Ennead, Fourth Tractate.                                                                                                                                                                                    

 How the secondaries rise from the first: And on the One.

Anything existing after The First must necessarily arise from that First, whether immediately or as tracing back to it through intervenients; there must be an order of secondaries and tertiaries, in which any second is to be referred to The First, any third to the second.

Standing before all things, there must exist a Simplex, differing from all its sequel, self-gathered not inter-blended with the forms that rise from it, and yet able in some mode of its own to be present to those others: it must be authentically a unity, not merely something elaborated into unity and so in reality no more than unity's counterfeit; it will debar all telling and knowing except that it may be described as transcending Being for if there were nothing outside all alliance and compromise, nothing authentically one, there would be no Source. Untouched by multiplicity, it will be wholly self-sufficing, an absolute First, whereas any not-first demands its earlier, and any non-simplex needs the simplicities within itself as the very foundations of its composite existence.

Two other quotes demonstrating the axiomatic centrality of Simplicity to Plotinus and the antecedent philosophies which influence him at Alexandria.  Plotinus, Second Ennead, Fourth Tractate, Section 8 (Stephen MacKenna's translation, Sacred Texts) and Plotinus, Second Ennead, Ninth Tractate, Section 1 (MacKenna's translation, Sacred Texts). The last being containing an argument frequently cited by later writers.

'Even in calling it “The First” we mean no more than to express that it is the most absolutely Simplex: it is the Self-Sufficing only in the sense that it is not of that compound nature which would make it dependent upon any constituent; it is “the Self-Contained” because everything contained in something alien must also exist by that alien.
Deriving, then, from nothing alien, entering into nothing alien, in no way a made-up thing, there can be nothing above it.'

'God has neither form nor being'

Plotinus elaborates the argument that The First has neither form nor even true being,which places him and his theological disciples in hostility to scripture, (Phil.2.6).

'This produced reality is an Ideal form for certainly nothing springing from the Supreme can be less and it is not a particular form but the form of all, beside which there is no other; it follows that The First must be without form, and, if without form, then it is no Being; Being must have some definition and therefore be limited; but the First cannot be thought of as having definition and limit, for thus it would be not the Source but the particular item indicated by the definition assigned to it. If all things belong to the produced, which of them can be thought of as the Supreme? Not included among them, this can be described only as transcending them: but they are Being and the Beings; it therefore transcends Being.' Fifth Ennead, Fifth Tractate, Section 6.

Can there be any doubt about the pagan, depersonalised, sterile and utterly unBiblical nature of Simplicity's philosophical roots?

Use of the term  απλους haplous (Strong 573) in the N.T. and elsewhere:

'απλους is literally spread out without folds, and hence means single, simple, without complexity of character and motive. In the N.T. this idea of simplicity is always favorable; in classical Greek the word is also occasionally used in an unfavorable sense, denoting foolish simplicity.'

Evidence for the impact of this erroneous teaching and its precursors on Christian and rabbinic Jewish doctrine.

Philo of Alexandria (c.20 BC – c. 50)

Clement Of Alexandria (c.150 – c.215) A champion of apophatic theology and syncretism with Greek philosophy - though he antedated Plotinus and his Alexandrine teacher Ammonius Saccas.

He seems to have been profoundly influenced by the syncretism of Pantaenus (fragments of his writings) the converted Stoic and perhaps of Athenagoras, (attributed writings) reputed to be the first two deans at the Catechetical School in Alexandria (the latter being disputed).

How careless he seems of the Apostolic warnings above!

Stromateis  5 (28, i)

'Philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness, until the coming of the Lord: and even now it is useful for the development of true religion, as a kind of preparatory discipline for those who arrive at faith by way of demonstration. For your foot will not stumble,  as the Scripture says, if you attribute to Providence all good things, whether belonging to the Greeks or to us. For God is the source of all good; either directly, as in the Old and New Testaments, or indirectly, as in the case of philosophy. But it may even be that philosophy was given to the Greeks directly; for it was  a schoolmaster, to bring Hellenism to Christ, as the Law was for the Hebrews. Thus philosophy was a preparation, paving the way for the man who is brought to perfection by Christ.

Stromata 5.12.

'And John the apostle says: ‚“No man hath seen God at any time. The only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him, calling invisibility and ineffableness the bosom of God. Hence some have called it the Depth, as containing and embosoming all things, inaccessible and boundless.
This discourse respecting God is most difficult to handle. For since the first principle of everything is difficult to find out, the absolutely first and oldest principle, which is the cause of all other things being and having been, is difficult to exhibit. For how can that be expressed which is neither genus, nor difference, nor species, nor individual, nor number; nay more, is neither an event, nor that to which an event happens? No one can rightly express Him wholly. For on account of His greatness He is ranked as the All, and is the Father of the universe. Nor are any parts to be predicated of Him. For the One is indivisible; wherefore also it is infinite, not considered with reference to inscrutability, but with reference to its being without dimensions, and not having a limit. And therefore it is without form and name. And if we name it, we do not do so properly, terming it either the One, or the Good, or Mind, or Absolute Being, or Father, or God, or Creator or Lord. We speak not as supplying His name; but for want, we use good names, in order that the mind may have these as points of support, so as not to err in other respects. For each one by itself does not express God; but all together are indicative of the power of the Omnipotent. For predicates are expressed either from what belongs to things themselves, or from their mutual relation. But none of these are admissible in reference to God. Nor any more is He apprehended by the science of demonstration. For it depends on primary and better known principles. But there is nothing antecedent to the Unbegotten.   It remains that we understand, then, the Unknown, by divine grace, and by the word alone that proceeds from Him...'

He quotes Numenius (mid 2nd century AD), sometimes called the father of neo-Platonism, with approval.

'And Numenius, the Pythagorean philosopher, expressly writes: ‚“For what is Plato, but Moses speaking in Attic Greek?"' Strom.1.22
What hideous blasphemy! What is the chaff to the wheat? - Paul and the Prophets agree, and the Saviour will condemn such a profane and sterile expression.

Noble Irenaeus (2nd century-c.202 AD) - for whose discerning exposure of a horrible multitude of heresies we hold the highest esteem, like Hezekiah at Sennacherib's first approach (2 Ki.18.15-16) unwisely once uses Simplicity to bat away a whole cluster of Gnostic horrors of mental successions - drawn from a wholly unwarranted and overstretched analogy with human reason - he would have been wiser and safer to adhere strictly and solely to scriptural weapons. (Ephes. 6.16,17, 2 Cor.10.4,5, Acts 20.17-32). It bears some relation to Xenophanes' approach.

Against Heresies 2:12.2,3

Gnostic nonsense cited.

'For the first exercise of that [power] respecting anything, is styled Ennoea; but when it continues, and gathers strength, and takes possession of the whole soul, it is called Enthymesis.This Enthymesis, again, when it exercises itself a long time on the same point, and has, as it were, been proved, is named Sensation. And this Sensation, when it is much developed, becomes Counsel. The increase, again, and greatly developed exercise of this Counsel becomes the Examination of thought (Judgment); and this remaining in the mind is most properly termed Logos (reason), from which the spoken Logos (word) proceeds. But all the [exercises of thought] which have been mentioned are [fundamentally] one and the same, receiving their origin from Nous, and obtaining [different] appellation according to their increase.'

Irenaeus' response

'For the Father of all is at a vast distance from those affections and passions which operate among men. He is a simple, uncompounded Being, without diverse members, and altogether like, and equal to himself, since He is wholly understanding, and wholly spirit, and wholly thought, and wholly intelligence, and wholly reason, and wholly hearing, and wholly seeing, and wholly light, and the whole source of all that is good‚ even as the religious and pious are wont to speak concerning God.'

Gregory of Nazianzen (c.329 –389/90)

Speech on the Theophany (38: 7) Patrologia Graeca 36.319, Eng. translated by C. G. Browne, J. E. Swallow.

The Divine Nature then is boundless and hard to understand; and all that we can comprehend of Him is His boundlessness;  even though one may conceive that because He is of a simple nature He is therefore either wholly incomprehensible, or  perfectly comprehensible. For let us further enquire what is implied by "is of a simple nature." For it is quite certain  that this simplicity is not itself its nature, just as composition is not by itself the essence of compound beings.

Ἄπειρον οὖν τὸ θεῖον καὶ δυσθεώρητον καὶ τοῦτο πάντη καταληπτὸν αὐτοῦ μόνον ἡ ἀπειρία· κἄν τις οἴηται τῷ ἁπλῆς εἶναι φύσεως ἢ ὅλον  ἄληπτον εἶναι ἢ τελέως ληπτόν. Τί γὰρ ὃς ἁπλῆς ἐστι φύσεως͵ ἐπιζητήσωμεν. Οὐ γὰρ δὴ τοῦτο φύσις αὐτῷ ἡ ἁπλότης, εἴπερ μηδὲ τοῖς  συνθέτοις͵ μόνον τὸ εἶναι συνθέτοις.'

Gregory of Nyssa
(c.335– c.395)

First Book against Eunomius Section 19 (Page 108 of CCEL pdf)

Both the Bishop and his extreme Arian opponent are firm advocates of Divine Simplicity engage in a philosophical arms race for the prize of the possession of the citadel of Plotinus' ideology. Eunomius seems to argue that since the Divine Being cannot be both 'ingenerate' (the Father) and 'generate' (the Son) in substance, references to eternal generation profane the philosophical sanctum of Divine Simplicity.

'But let us still scrutinize his words. He declares each of these Beings, whom he has shadowed forth in his exposition, to be single and absolutely one. We believe that the most boorish and simple-minded would not deny that the Divine Nature, blessed and transcendent as it is, was  single.  That which is viewless, formless, and sizeless, cannot be conceived of as multiform and composite. But it will be clear, upon the very slightest reflection, that this view of the supreme Being as  simple,  however finely they may talk of it, is quite inconsistent with the system which they have elaborated. For who does not know that, to be exact, simplicity in the case of the Holy Trinity admits of no degrees. In this case there is no mixture or conflux of qualities to think of; we comprehend a potency without parts and composition; how then, and on what grounds, could any one perceive there any differences of less and more. For he who marks differences there must perforce think of an incidence of certain qualities in the subject. He must in fact have perceived differences in largeness and smallness therein, to have introduced this conception of quantity into the question: or he must posit abundance or diminution in the matter of goodness, strength, wisdom, or of anything else that can with reverence be associated with God: and neither way will he escape the idea of composition.'

'Having affirmed that the being of the Father alone is  Supreme  and  Proper,  and having refused both these titles to that of the Son and of the Spirit, in accordance with this, when he comes to speak of them all as  simple,  he thinks it his duty to associate with them the idea of simplicity in proportion only to their essential worth, so that the Supreme alone is to be conceived of as at the height and perfection of simplicity, while the second, in proportion to its declension from supremacy, receives also a diminished measure of simplicity, and in the case of the third Being also, there is as much variation from the perfect simplicity, as the amount of worth is lessened in the extremes: whence it results that the Father s being is conceived as of pure simplicity, that of the Son as not so flawless in simplicity, but with a mixture of the composite, that of the Holy Spirit as still increasing in the composite, while the amount of simplicity is gradually lessened. Just as imperfect goodness ust be owned to share in some measure in the reverse disposition, so imperfect simplicity cannot escape being considered composite.'  (p.109, ibid).

Basil of Caesarea (329/30 –379), with Gregory,  it is lucidly claimed by Radde-Gallwitz, upgraded and transformed the exceedingly complex doctrine of  Simplicity to avoid the identity problem, beloved of the Eunomians and later adopted by Augustine and Aquinas in a modified form, namely that God's essence and all His attributes are in identity, on the one hand and an extreme apophatic theology on the other (namely that nothing except negatives can be asserted about God - a common theme amongst Islamist scholars, esp Tamimi and his disciples). 

He depends on the axiom of simplicity to prove consubstantiality.

'And if the Holy Spirit is not simple, He consists of essence and sanctification, and is therefore composite. But who is mad enough to describe the Holy Spirit as composite, and not simple, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son?' To the Caesaereans, A defence of his flight. Sn.10.

Dancing between the horns of the dilemma posed by his embrace of Simplicity.

'Do you worship what you know or what you do not know? If I answer, I worship what I know, they immediately reply, What is the essence of the object of worship? Then, if I confess that I am ignorant of the essence, they turn on me again and say, So you worship you know not what. I answer that the word to know has many meanings. We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment; but not His very essence. The question is, therefore, only put for the sake of dispute. For he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated. But God, he says, is simple, and whatever attribute of Him you have reckoned as knowable is of His essence. But the absurdities involved in this sophism are innumerable. When all these high attributes have been enumerated, are they all names of one essence?' Letter CCXXXIV

John of Damascus (c.675/6–749)

'God is without beginning, without end, eternal and everlasting, uncreate, unchangeable, invariable, simple, uncompound, incorporeal, invisible, impalpable, uncircumscribed, infinite, incognisable, indefinable, incomprehensible, good, just, maker of all things created, almighty, all-ruling, all-surveying, of all overseer, sovereign, judge; and that God is One, that is to say, one essence.

It is not within our capacity, therefore, to say anything about God or even to think of Him, beyond the things which have been divinely revealed to us, whether by word or by manifestation, by the divine oracles at once of the Old Testament and of the New.'
(Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 1, Chapter 2).

ch 8 exposition
'We believe, then, in One God, one beginning , having no beginning, uncreate, unbegotten, imperishable and immortal, everlasting, infinite, uncircumscribed, boundless, of infinite power, simple, uncompound, incorporeal, without flux, passionless, unchangeable, unalterable, unseen, the fountain of goodness and justice, the light of the mind, inaccessible; a power known by no measure, measurable only by His own will alone (for all things that He wills He can ), creator of all created things,'
(Ibid, Chapter 8)

Pseudo-Dionysius (c.650—c. 725)

And God is called "Word" or "Reason" by the Holy Scriptures, not only because He is the Bestower of Reason and Mind and Wisdom, but also because He contains beforehand in His own Unity the causes of all things, and because He penetrates all things, "reaching" (as the Scripture saith) "unto the end of all things," and more especially because the Divine Reason is more simple than all simplicity, and, in the transcendence of Its Super-Essential Being, is independent of all things. 
The Divine Names, ch.7, Concerning "Wisdom," "Mind," "Reason," "Truth," "Faith."

Augustine of Hippo's devotion to Simplicity and to the identity of the Divine Essence and Attributes, given his background, is considerable and is examined separately.

(1138-1204) the Jewish Physician and Theologian, often affectionately known as 'Rambam' by the Jews, in the Laws of the Basic Principles of Torah (Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah). Maimonides was heavily influenced by Aristotle and employs his metaphysical terminology and concepts heavily. It is easy to see how devoid of personality his Deity has become.

'7. God is not two or more entities, but a single entity of a oneness even more single and unique than any single thing in creation. His oneness is not like that of a single type which consists of many individuals [like the oneness of a species], and nor is it like the oneness of the body, which incorporates many parts, but His oneness is absolutely unique, and there is nothing else in existence with a oneness like His.... It is a positive commandment to know this, for it is written, "...the Lord is our God, the Lord is one

If, however, you have a desire to rise to a higher state, viz., that of reflection, and truly to hold the conviction that God is One and possesses true unity, without admitting plurality or divisibility in any sense whatever, you must understand that God has no essential attribute in any form or in any sense whatever, and that the rejection of corporeality implies the rejection of essential attributes. Those who believe that God is One, and that He has many attributes, declare the unity with their lips, and assume plurality in their thoughts. This is like the doctrine of the Christians, who say that He is one and He is three, and that the three are one. Of the same character is the doctrine of those who say that God is One, but that He has many attributes; and that He with His attributes is One, although they deny corporeality and affirm His most absolute freedom from matter; as if our object were to seek forms of expression, not subjects of belief.
' (Guide to the Perplexed, part 1, chapter 50.)

'There cannot be any belief in the unity of God except by admitting that He is one simple substance, without any composition or plurality of elements: one from whatever side you view it, and by whatever test you examine it: not divisible into two parts in any way and by any cause, nor capable of any form of plurality either objectively or subjectively, as will be proved in this treatise.'
(Guide to the Perplexed, part 1, chapter 51.)

Unlike Christian theologians and even some Muslim ones, Rambam seems to have bought wholly into Plotinus' formless Deity.
3rd principle of faith

A dangerous overreaction to anthropomorphism. A God divorced of attributes: Divine love, holiness, goodness, justice, mercy, faithfulness are all perfectly identical with His simple essence - and become virtual non-entities subordinated only to absolute simplicity.
'Guided by such imaginations, men thought that God was also composed of many different elements, viz., of His essence and of the attributes superadded to His essence. Following up this comparison, some believed that God was corporeal, and that He possessed attributes: others, abandoning this theory, denied the corporeality, but retained the attributes. The adherence to the literal sense of the text of Holy Writ is the source of all this error, as I shall show in some of the chapters devoted to this theme.' (Guide to the Perplexed, part 1, chapter 51.)

Moses ben Maimon might have as well been named Plotinus ben Maimon. His work is a guide to perplexity, as much as from it.

The 4th Lateran Council. 1215
We firmly believe and openly confess that there is only one true God, eternal and immense, omnipotent, unchangeable, incomprehensible, and ineffable, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; three Persons indeed but one essense, substance, or nature absolutely simple...(substantia seu natura simplex omnino)

Divine Simplicity is the corner stone of Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, drawing explicitly from Aristotle and Augustine's De Trinitate, though the unstated influence of neo-Platonism seems strong.  (1225-1274)
It is the first primary attribute he addresses after establishing God's existence, prior to examining His goodness, unity, omnipresence or eternality. His celebrated 'contribution' to this field namely to equate Divine essence with existence (Q3), is earlier found in Maimonides, and takes him radically closer to Plotinus, though unlike Plotinus he affirms that God has a form (Q2).

Vol.1 Part 1. Q.3 Articles 1-8. Translated by Thomas Gilby. From article 7 for example, 'It is clear then that there is no way in which God is composite, and that He must be altogether simple'.

His arguments are almost entirely philosophical, and draw scant if any reference to scripture. Many of the scripture quotes he cites are in the antithesis he seeks to address, Heb.10.38 and Ps.105.40 in article 2, or ten anthropomorphic references in article 1 are opposed to a bald statement of Jn.4.24 just before his reply, followed by a string of inferences. His arguments are largely based on proving that God's essence is not corporeal in any conceivable manner and then drawing opposite inferences about His real nature, in a manner that is singularly unsafe and unsupported.
He does not
here address some of the more mysterious and problematic texts for his thesis, like Jn.5.37, 6.46, 8.38, or Phil.1.7.

He takes the doctrine of Divine Simplicity as granted in his seminal and groundbreaking work 'Essence and Existence', by briefly drawing its source from an analogy of physical causes. However just as Aristotle, 'the Philosopher', as Aquinas loves to term him, mangled his physics and burdened the Vatican with the millstone of his dogmatic cosmology, so generations of scholastic theologians have been ensnared with the metaphysical pronouncements of Aristotle and his ardent Dominican disciple.

'Some substances are simple, others are composite, and both sorts have their essence, but the simple ones in a more genuine and excellent way, just as they have a more excellent way of being. For they are the cause of the composite ones; at least this is true of the first, simple substance, which is God.' De ente et essentia ch. 2.

Turretin's Institutes of Elenctic Theology, The One and Triune God, Q.V,
Can the divine attributes be distinguished from the divine essence? We deny against the Socinians.

VII The attributes of God cannot really differ from his essence or from one another (as one thing from another) because God is most simple and perfect. Now a real distinction presupposes things diverse in essence which the highest simplicity rejects.

VIII For where there is ground for founding distinct formal conceptions of anything (although one and simple in itself considered), there we must grant virtual and eminent distinction.

XII He who conceives what is actually and really one and simple in God as actually and really diverse, conceives what is false. But he who conceives that what is actually one in itself as more than one virtually and extrinsically or objectively, does not conceive what is false. Rather he conceives the thing imperfectly and inadequately on account of the weakness of the human intellect and the eminence and perfection of divine nature.

XIV The properties of many are on the part of the object and end (or of the operations and effects), but not on the part of the subject or principle, which is one and perfectly simple.

XVI The definition of a thing in itself differs from our conceptions of that thing. The former, not the latter, argues a real distinction. Now the definitions of the divine properties are rather of our conceptions (conceiving God under this or that relation) than of the thing itself (which is one and most simple).

Uncharacteristically Turretin quotes no proof texts in this section at all, and no surprise given the source of his curious assertions. His main concern for defending simplicity seems to be the heretical use Socinus made of distinguishing God's attributes from His essence to deny the personality of the Holy Spirit.

Calvin's Institutes
Simplicity of the Divine Essence briefly but firmly and unwisely advocated as a necessary bulwark against tritheism.
Book 1. Ch.13. Part 2.
'Moreover, lest any should dream of a three-fold God, or think that the simple essence is divided by the three Persons, we must here seek a brief and easy definition which may effectually guard us from error.'
'For the essence of God being simple and undivided, and contained in himself entire, in full perfection, without partition or diminution,...'
'The same holds in the case of the Holy Spirit; for we will immediately prove both that he is God, and that he has a separate subsistence from the Father. This,moreover, is not a distinction of essence, which it were impious to multiply.'

Yet he swiftly allows real distinctions within the essence which are inconsistent with absolute Simplicity, of the homogeneous kind neo-Platonists advocated - leaving us wondering exactly what a simple, as opposed to a complex, relational, Unity actually means, and of what value it is, or from where this doctrine derives.

'When the Apostle calls the Son of God "the express image of his person" (Heb.1.3), he undoubtedly does assign to the Father some subsistence in which he differs from the Son. For to hold with some interpreters that the term is equivalent to essence (as if Christ represented the substance of the Father like the impression of a seal
upon wax), were not only harsh but absurd. For the essence of God being simple and undivided, and contained in Himself entire, in full perfection, without partition or diminution, it is improper, nay ridiculous, to call it his express image (). But because the Father, though distinguished by his own peculiar properties, has expressed himself wholly in the Son, he is said with perfect reason to have rendered his person (hypostasis) manifest in him...The fair inference from the Apostle's words is, that there is a subsistence (hypostasis) of the Son which distinguishes him from the Father.'
(Beveridge) Book
I. Chapter 13.2

(Substance= substantia; Subsistence = subsistentia; Essence = essentia in the Latin text of 1559 edition).

He later uses the term subsistence interchangeably with the personal essence of the Son - again negating homogeneous simplicity, and ostensibly rendering the term valueless and meaningless from the perspective of those who coined the concept. If real, eternal and ineradicable distinctions or 'peculiarities' exist within the Eternal Divine Essence, He is not absolutely simple.

'But the clearest explanation is given by John, when he states that the Word which was from the beginning God and with God, was, together with God the Father, the maker of all things. For he both attributes a substantial and permanent essence to the Word
, assigning to it a certain peculiarity and distinctly showing how God spoke the world into being.'
(Beveridge) Book I. Chapter 13.7

'We therefore, again conclude, that the Word was eternally begotten by God, and dwelt with him from everlasting. In this way, his true essence [vera essentia], his eternity, and divinity are established.'
(Beveridge) Book I. Chapter 13.7

There is an infelicitous mixture of metaphors here, and if the Son's true essence is both absolutely simple and absolutely shared with the Father, the inescapable corollary is that this begetting is an illusory tautology for perfect identity. The first of these premises is here contested, the second is properly defended by denying simplicity, or else the Son possesses two 'true essences'.

John Owen on Simplicity

Herman Bavinck on 'the Doctrine of God'

Louis Berkhof s Systematic Theology - The incommunicable attributes. D.2

'When we speak of the simplicity of God, we use the term to describe the state or quality of being simple, the condition of being free from division into parts, and therefore from compositeness. It means that God is not composite and is not susceptible of division in any sense of the word.

The simplicity of God follows from some of His other perfections; from His Self-existence, which excludes the idea that something preceded Him, as in the case of compounds; and from His immutability, which could not be predicated of His nature if He were made up of parts.

Scripture does not explicitly assert it, but implies it where it speaks of God as righteousness, truth, wisdom, light, life, love and so on, and thus indicates that each of these properties, because of their absolute perfection is identical with His Being.'

We may well reverently ask the great theologian where then this indication of perfect and absolute identity between God and His properties is clarified, and indeed where the identity of these properties with one another (another basic axiom of DDS) is expounded with proper authority? (O
utside of the Enneads that is).

A recent defence by Matthew Graham

A list of scripture quotes, proving what is not in dispute, namely monotheism, but scarcely grappling with the question of the simplicity of the Divine nature per se from the scriptural data, and as almost always pertains, at the end relying on philosophical reasoning alone to assert the case for simplicity.

A terse review of James Dolezal's work a 'God without parts' (Deus sine partibus), an expression taken from the Westminster Confession, though avoided in earlier Baptist confessions.

Have we not unwittingly fallen prey to Calvin's salient warning about idolatry?

 The human mind, stuffed as it is with presumptuous rashness, dares to imagine a god suited to its own capacity; as it labours under dullness, nay, is sunk in the grossest ignorance, it substitutes vanity and an empty phantom in the place of God 

John Calvin, Institutes, Book 1. Ch.XI. Sn.8.


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