Category Archives: Historical Theology

The Divine Energies, Divine Simplicity And Reformed Orthodoxy

Directed Study

Dr. Michael Horton

05 / 28 / 10

In this paper I will give a summary of various approaches to the Doctrine of God from the early and late (or High) periods of Reformed theology.  Specifically, I will be looking at the Reformed orthodox doctrine of Divine Simplicity, taking Calvin and Turretin as representative of the orthodox understanding of the doctrine in the early and late periods, respectively.  In the second section of my paper, I will turn to a discussion of the compatibility of the Reformed orthodox doctrine of God with the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of God, looking specifically at two characteristic Eastern beliefs; the distinction between Essence and Energies in God, and the belief that God’s Essence is “beyond being.”  Because these two beliefs are absolutely essential to the Eastern conception of God, the judgment as to whether or not they are compatible with a Reformed orthodox understanding of God will also be a judgment as to the compatibility of the two conceptions of God more broadly. Continue reading

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Filed under Ancient Thought, Historical Theology, Medieval Thought, Philosophy

The Doctrine Of The Divine Energies

DR625-2 (Directed Study)

Dr. Michael Horton

12 / 18 / 09

Introduction

In this paper I will examine the doctrine of the divine energies as developed by the early and later Eastern (Greek) Church Fathers.  Simply put, the divine energies are manifestations of God in the created world.  They are truly God Himself, but they are not His essence.  They are the ways in which God makes Himself known to us as created beings.  They would include concepts such as glory, power, mercy, and loving-kindness, as well as eternity and even simplicity.  All of these names or terms that we ascribe to God do not describe His essence (God as He is in Himself), but rather describe his manifold energies.  His essence remains utterly unknowable and beyond all human ability to grasp it.  This distinction between the essence and energies of God became extremely important in the later development of the Eastern (or Byzantine) Christian tradition, especially with regard to the doctrine of theosis or deification.  So important is this distinction to all of Eastern theology that modern scholars are beginning to recognize that it is one of the most important theological differences (if not the most important) that divides East and West.

This paper will be divided into two main sections.  Continue reading

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A Survey Of Exegesis Of Philippians 2:5-11 In The Patristic Period

NT515 – Philippians

Dr. Dennis Johnson

12 / 04 / 09

In this paper my plan is to briefly sketch some of the major contours of Pastristic thought with regard to the exegesis of Philippians 2:5-11.  This passage is sometimes referred to as the “kenotic hymn” because, in addition to being song-like in form, it contains the infamous statement that Christ “emptied himself” in taking on the form of a man.  The Greek word Paul uses here, ekénōse, comes from the word kenós, meaning “empty.”  This term immediately became the center of Christological debate.  How is it that Christ emptied himself?  What did he empty himself of?  If he was truly God before his incarnation, did he totally empty himself of all divinity and become merely human?  How would such an emptying even be possible, and what would it mean for divine immutability?  The simple presence of this one word within this one short epistle meant that such questions could not possibly be avoided; they must be met head on.  And they were.  The answers, however, were varied, and it took several centuries for orthodox Christology to be solidified. Continue reading

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Filed under Ancient Thought, Biblical Theology, Exegesis, Historical Theology

Boethius And The False Consolation Of Philosophy

CH602 – Medieval Church & Reformation

Dr. R. Scott Clark

04 / 03 / 09

Introduction

My project in this paper is to examine Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy to determine what Boethius was attempting to communicate to his audience about Philosophy itself.  The single most perplexing issue to arise in Boethian studies since at least the early medieval period has been the question of why Boethius, a Christian who had written several theological treatises defending orthodox Christian doctrine, chose in his final days to console himself not with Christian revelation, but with Neo-Platonic philosophy.  Many supposed that Boethius was not really a Christian and that the author of the Consolation could not have been the same man who wrote the theological treatises.  More recent scholarship has dispelled this notion.  Thus the question remains the same, but the issue now becomes an attempt at reconciliation between the catholic Christian Boethius of the treatises and the Neo-Platonist Boethius of the Consolation. Continue reading

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Filed under Church History, Historical Theology, Medieval Thought, Philosophy