Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 103

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE sufficiently different from the Father to warrant being chosen to become human. This difference, however, is not permitted by classical theism. Classical theists permit only the minimal difference between the Father and the Son of begetting and being begotten, and since this is an internal difference, it cannot be the ground for the different roles the divine persons play in the world. The ad intra relations are eternal and unchanging and thus provide no foundation for the ad extra relations in the economy of salvation. Aquinas is very clear on this point, and rightly so, given his understanding of divine simplicity. God’s being is not shaped or influenced, let alone determined, by anything that God does beyond God’s internal selfrelatedness. In fact, to safeguard the absolute equality and unity of the divine persons, classical theists hold that even in the ad extra relations, there are no real differences between the persons! Thus classical theists are committed to the dubious proposition that the divine persons are not distinguished by their acts. What one of them does, all of them do. That, I must admit, is a proposition about which I can make absolutely no biblical sense. Contrariwise, if the Son is really different from the Father—sufficiently different to account for His incarnational destiny—then what is the divine substance such that it can account for this difference? The divine substance must have difference built into it. It must be composed of real relations, between real persons, which means it is false to say that God has no parts. Just as Aquinas had to introduce space into prime matter in order to account for its divisibility, it seems to me that we must introduce something like space into the Trinity to account for the Son’s Incarnation. There is difference in the divine substance, a potential for divisibility we could say, and as Aquinas has taught us, matter is the source of potency. It is hard for many classical theists to imagine a material God, but physicists today talk about matter in terms of energy and fields, rather than bits and particles. Perhaps we can think of the divine substance as a kind of field that is singularly shared by three divine persons. The energy they share, we could say, is the divine nature. This is one of the issues I am pursuing more fully in my next book, and I look forward to more criticisms and discussions of my work. 102