Properties and Attributes

Why is this important?  Understanding that this is what “makes up” a human being is crucial in apologetics, evangelism, and the pro-life cause.

Older theologians made a distinction between property and attribute, the latter being a wider category than the former.  Modern philosophers haven’t held to that distinction.  I am going to list different writers’ takes on it and see what comes up.

JP Moreland (either works by Moreland or about Moreland) :

property: a universal (Moreland and Craig, 219), that which can be instantiated in more than one place at once.  It would still exist apart from the substance. A substance “owns” a property (215).  Properties always come together in groups.

Gould and Wallace clarify Moreland’s position by saying a property is an instantiation of an abstract object (Gould and Wallace 24).

substance: more basic than properties. Substances do the having, properties the “had.”  “A substance is a deep unity of properties, parts and capacities.”

Richard Muller:

attributum: the attributes identify what the thing is and are inseparable from its substance (Muller 50).

proprietas: pertaining to God, it is an incommunicable attribute.  More specifically, that which is uniquely predicated of the person.  Regarding the doctrine of man, what is predicated of an individual (250).

Alvin Plantinga:

property: Plantinga broadens the discussion to where he can say “God has a nature–a property he has essentially that includes each property essential to him” (Plantinga 7).  So, God has the property of having a nature.  Plantinga seems to have reversed the relation between property and attribute.

Conclusion

On one hand, properties are had by the person, attributes by the essence.  Or rather, attributes are predicated of the essence.  Yet J. P. Moreland says properties are had by the substance.  Is Moreland confusing substance and person?  Maybe not.  In the West substance wasn’t necessarily identical with “essence” or ousia.  Substance denotes a standing under, which points to the idea of person.

Yet it is also important to realize that properties are explanatorily prior to the things that have them (Gould and Wallace 25).  The easiest conclusion is that attributes are predicated of the essence, properties of the person, provided we also see properties functioning as universals.

Works Cited

Gould, Paul and Wallace, Stan.  “On what there is: theism, platonism, and explanation” in Eds. Gould, Paul and Davis, Richard Brian. Loving God with Your Mind: Essays in Honor of J.P. Moreland.  Chicago: Moody Press, 2010.

Moreland, J. P. and Craig, William Lane.   Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview.  Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2003.

Muller, Richard A. Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, reprint [1995].

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Willard, Divine Conspiracy study notes

Thesis:  God is inviting us to kingdom living right now.

Willard spends some time critiquing dispensational outlooks that relegate Jesus’s kingdom message, especially the sermon on the mount, to the Millennial Age.  (Substitute “millennial reign” for “kingdom” in the Sermon on the Mount.  Hilarity ensues).

He defines God’s kingdom as the range of his effective will (Willard 25), allowing us to pray for his kingdom to come on earth as in heaven.  Further, God has given each of us a kingdom, which is the “range of our own will.”

When Jesus defined “eternal life” (John 17:3) he defined it as “the knowledge of God” and his son Jesus, whom he sent (49).

Jesus’s Vision of God’s World

Although this is a popular-level book, Willard gives a robust account of metaphysics and epistemology:

  • God’s being is joyous being (62).  This is what analytic theologians mean by “maximally perfect being.” It is “the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being” (63ff).
  • We live in a universe where infinite energy of a Personal nature is the ultimate reality (254).
  • Matter is the stuff/place of development for finite personalities who, in their bodies, have significant resources either to oppose or serve God (254).
  • God as personal reality prefers to be known by speaking (277).  

The Heavens

The heavens are the direct experience and presence of God’s “person, knowledge, and power to those who serve and trust him” (67). In NT language, to be “born from above” is to “be interactively joined with a dynamic, unseen system of divine reality in the midst of which all humanity moves” (68).

  • Spirit and Space:
    • Human spirit: I am a spiritual being who currently has a physical body (75).
    • Human self: a unity of experiences which is not located at any point in my body.
    • “the face:” do we hide our spirit behind our face?  Do we genuinely present our spiritual reality to those around us?
    • God relates to space as we do to body.  He occupies and overflows it but cannot be reducible to it.
  • Spiritual reality (79ff):
    • nonphysical, not perceived by the senses.
    • power: spirit is a form of energy, for it does work, and whatever works has power.
    • thought: our experiences are consciously directed towards objects.
    • valuing: we choose and act with reference to our choices.  This is our will.
  • Centrality of the Will or Heart
    • The will is the innermost core of a person’s self/spiritual reality (80). It is self-determining.
    • It is spirit in human beings.
  • The substantiality of the Spiritual.
    • The spirit is unbodily, personal power (81).
    • God is both spirit and substance.

Prayer

“A different kind of causality” (Lewis).

Definition: “Talking to God about what we are doing together” (Willard 243).

Prayer is not:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Praise
  • meditation

Of course, the above three are part of prayer and prayer cannot get very far without them.

Can We Change God?

Moses reasoned with God (Ex. 32:10ff).

Hezekiah prevailed upon God (2 Kgs. 20).

Willard is not an open theist, contra some allegations:  “His nature, identity, and overarching purposes are no doubt unchanging” (Willard 246). However, his intentions regarding many particular purposes are not unchanging.

God created a universe responsive to Personality.  

  • kingdom praying:  personalities are ultimate and distinct (249).  This isn’t simply some Eastern mantra type prayer. Kingdom personalities interact through explicit, purposeful communication, listening and speaking, not through a mere sense of unity (250).
  • Prayer trains us to reign. It forms character.  It combines freedom and power with service and love. This means we learn to wait on God.
  • Prayer is not a mechanism, but a personal negotiation.  

The Lord’s Prayer

Prayer is a form of speaking.  The Lord’s prayer is a template that desires us to “move out” in prayer.

  • God must be addressed.  We speak to a particular person.  When we pray to God in heaven, we are placing ourselves towards the kingdom of the heavens.
  • Hallowed by thy name:  names partake of the reality (258).
  • Thy kingdom come: lots of good insights on structuralized, social evils.  Culture is a multidimensional place that embodies our collective archetypes.
  • Give us our daily bread: Today I have God and he has the provisions.
  • Trespasses: it is not psychologically possible for us to know God’s pity for ourselves and be hardhearted towards others.

Being Jesus’s Student

If I am to be someone’s apprentice, I must be with him (276).  The disciples were “engulfed” by the Spirit.

The kingdom of the heavens, from a practical point of view, is simply our experience of Jesus’ continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days, hours, and moments of our earthly existence (280).

How to be a disciple

  • Simplicity
  • I am learning to live my life as if Jesus were living my life.
  • Jesus’ teachings presuppose a life of discipleship (284).

Spiritual Disciplines

Definition: a discipline is any activity that enables us to do what we cannot do by direct effort (353). Spiritual disciplines are designed to help us withdraw from our own efforts and depend on kingdom power.  Ironically, all spiritual disciplines involve the body.  

  • Solitude and silence help us escape the “responding without thinking” moments.
  • Worship and Study: Worship imprints upon our whole being the reality of what we study.  The result is a radical disruption of the powers of evil within us and around us (363).  

The Future World

The cosmos are open to God.  In the eschaton we will “reign” with God as kings and priests (Ex. 19.6; Rev. 5.10).  “The intention of God is that we should each become the kind of person whom he can set free in his universe, empowered to do what we want to do” (379).

really knowing: when we pass through death we see the world as it is for the first time (392).  When we move into the presence of eternity, as Paul had sometimes been, “we will have the same kind of fullness and clarity of experience as those beings now have.”  The spiritual realm is the realm of truth, not distortion.

The biblical language of death as “sleep” applies to the body, not the person (and they are not the same thing).

Jesus’ body is not restrained by space, time, and physical causality (395).   In God’s universe matter is subjected to mind or spirit.

Near Death Experiences: the person transitions to see the invisible (397).  He might even interact with deceased close ones.  He, if in Christ, will be borne away by angels (Lk. 16.22).  

Key points:

Thomas Oden: It becomes difficult, if not impossible to build a Christology on a naive, mistaken Jesus (quoted in Willard, 56).

*If you bury yourself in the Psalms, you emerge knowing God and understanding life (Willard 65).

Some notes on George Berkeley

George Berkeley’s (hereafter GB) project is a lot like the ontological argument or some 48 step math problem that divided by zero: you know it is wrong somewhere but you aren’t sure how. Even if he is wrong, and I think he is, this book was fun to read.

Esse is percepi

argument: if something is not perceived by me, or does not exist in my mind or that of any other created spirit, or God himself, then it does not exist (para 6).
1. It is impossible to abstract the being of a sensible thing from its being perceived.
2 there is no unthinking substance or substratum of ideas.

Primary qualities like extension, figure, etc., only make sense in their being perceived. We cannot imagine some object that has been abstracted from all other qualities. (Berkeley is correct up to a certain point: the more abstract we get, the less specific we get and the less we have to say of an object).

Ideas are inactive. It is impossible for an idea to “cause” anything (para 25). Therefore, as GB argues, “extension, figure, and motion cannot be the cause of our sensations.” GB has already ruled out the idea of a material/substratum cause. This leaves “spirit” as the only possible cause.

Berkeley’s Anthropology

*Spirit: the immaterial, simple subject that engages the faculties of will and understanding.
*will: the acting of spirit (27). Along with understanding, it is a power of spirit. He even calls it the “motion of the soul” (144).

GB now has a problem. If all we can know are ideas of sense impressions, yet it is the soul/spirit/I that does the knowing, how can I have an idea of spirit, since the latter is nonsensual? Berkeley introduces a new concept: notion. It saves his epistemology but it looks an awful lot like a deus ex machina.

GB wants to make clear that he is not doing away with the reality of the external world, but only with the philosophical notion of substance, which he defines as a substratum devoid of qualities and accidents (37).

Occasionalism: someone objects that GB’s philosophy commits him to the idea that things are being destroyed/created every minute (since they only exist in being perceived). He responds by referring his readers to sections 3 and 4. But that only strengthens the objection. It goes like this:

(1) If and only if [iff] an idea is perceived by the mind, then it exists.
(2) It is perceived by the mind.
(3) Therefore, it exists. [MP, 1, 2]
(4) Ideas can’t cause themselves.
(5) God/Mind causes them.
(5a) God/Mind creates ideas
(6) An idea is not perceived by the mind.
(7) Therefore, it does not exist [MT 3, 6, 7]

Berkeley responds by challenging his objector to imagine an archetypal idea not in its perception. But that’s not the point. We can fully grant that GB is correct. That is perfectly logical with P(7). Berkeley suspects as much. He clarifies his point in sec. 48:

(8) they could still exist because there “may be some other spirit that perceives them though we do not.”

Berkeley sees where his project is going and tries to stop it. If the above is correct, then it seems to say that my seeing the sun’s rising is the cause of the sun’s rising. Berkeley says no.

(8*) The connexion of ideas does not imply the relation of cause and effect, but only of a mark or sign of the thing signified (65).

Then what is the cause? Berkeley seems to say we should speak of mark or sign rather than cause (66).

Conclusion:

GB is wrong and there is no use pretending otherwise. His importance for English-speaking philosophy and metaphysics cannot be denied. Moreover, he is a formidable thinker and deserves serious interaction.

Something happened which the ring did not expect (Putin)

One has to be careful with “conspiritorial” views of history.  It’s not that they are wrong-headed, but that given the nature of the case there is so much information that “just can’t be known.”   Theologians who stand in traditionalist schools of thought (some Catholics, some Orthodox, maybe one or two Evangelicals) usually have a better angle on conspiracy history than the average “pop news” watcher.   These theologians have some training in writing, have read and interacted with numerous footnoted and scholarly peer-reviewed books, and given the nature of their reading, and reading in general, they don’t have time to watch TV (which means they miss out or ignore what Fox News says).

Yes, the above title is a reference to the Lord of the Rings, particularly the movie version of the Fellowship…The Ring didn’t expect to be found by a Hobbit, or something.    The title represents another problem with conspiracy views–the unexpected often happens, and when this does, it shatters paradigms.

While it’s a controversial thesis, it seriously cannot be gainsaid that the Anglo-American bankers, particularly the Rothschilds and Rockefellers, have orchestrated European politics for over 100 years.  The Rothschilds were behind the Armenian genocide of 1915.  Some scholarship has been done on the connection between London/New York bankers and the rise of the Bolshevieks.   Unfortunately, when the Bolsheviks became too powerful, the Regime needed a counter-weight, and they found one in the person of Adolf Hitler.

Unfortunately…well, the rest is history.    The West became entangled in one huge dialectic–it was social engineering at its finest.   When the Nazis were able to place key individuals in the “freedom-loving West,” essentially turning America into a military-industrial complex, the only entity powerful enough to stop them was Soviet Russia.  Not really a happy array of choices.  This is social dialectic at its starkest.

The bankers themselves weren’t too bothered.   They were able to heavily invest in Soviet infrastructure.

I suppose even the most ardent socialist saw the coming demise of the USSR.  However, given that Marxism and capitalism share the same root presuppositions, and that these economic forces control the Western countries (if you doubt that, google which entity contributed both to McCain and Obama’s campaign.  When you are done, get back to me…), the fall of socialism presented no real problem to these elites.   In fact, given there was no strong leadership in Russia, it was now possible to siphon trillions of dollars of Russian capital back to the West via Harvard university, the Carnegie Institutes, and others.   Given that Yeltsin was a dying alcoholic, and that the Russo-Jewish mafia controlled Russia, the game went on as before.

But something happened which the ring did not expect.   One of Yeltsin’s last moves to was appoint Vladimir Putin as his successor.   Putin was not Yeltsin.  Putin had his training in the security services.   Long story short, Putin marginalized the Jewish Mafia in Russia, rebuilt the military, and was able to capitalize on Russia’s nigh-infinite oil reserves.  In short, he brought Russia from a Third World Country to a First World Country in fewer than ten years.

Unfortunately for the Regime, Putin is a nationalist.  While his Orthodoxy is not always perfect, and he has compromised on some issues, Russia has began a slow revival under Putin (and the Moscow Patriarchate).  Putin’s moves have blocked the Regime in countless ways.  The most obvious is when Putin prevented an Israeli-trained Georgian armyfrom ethnically cleansing Russian citizens in South Ossetia.

Few realize just how major this was.   For the first time in ten years, NATO-inspired military interests were stopped cold.   America was clearly not in a position to react.   Secondly, after the debacle in Kosovo in 1999 the Russian army demonstrated it could respond to highly sophisticated threats.    For Americans, this meant that the Regime would wait a little longer before sending American boys to die in Iran.

I know there are some in the extreme “white nationalist” camp who think that Putin is a Zionist stooge and Putin supporters like Daniel Estulin are simply Zionists front-men.   Besides questioning their IQ, I don’t know really what to say.  If Putin were really a Zionist front-man, why has he been consistently thwarting Zionist designs?  Further, for those who still think Putin is a front-man for the New World Order, why did the Bilderbergers try to kill him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, when I wrote all of this 4 years ago I couldn’t imagine Putin’s victories in Ukraine or Syria.

Putin, and Wilson’s wanna-be postmillennialism

This anti-Wilson post doesn’t have anything to do with the sex scandals.  Still, he accurately sees where the historical winds are blowing, and he rightly sees that they aren’t in his direction.  We shall establish his thesis and then see if his points address them.

Thesis: I want to outline five reasons why I believe this [Putin = Constantine] is not the case, but first I want to put an important disclaimer up front.

Disclaimer: he realizes that some of his points are more anti-EO than anti-Putin.

~1. Doesn’t actually say what’s wrong in this point.  Remember, his thesis is that Putin is not Constantine.  He merely asserts that Putin is “farther down that cul-de-sac.”  Okay, how so?  Silence.

~2.  So Constantine is an imperfect ruler, what of it?  Wilson comes close to an actual argument when he claims that the Russian state specializes in “kennel-fed church dignitaries.”  This is a misleading half-truth.  The post-Petrine church in Russia (say around 1700-1825) was a department of the state.

This is not so today.  Admittedly, we can’t always find clear lines of separation, but Putin knows that the church provides him with moral legitimacy.  If he alienates the church he loses that legitimacy.  He knows that.  The church knows that.  Every scholar of Byzantine history knows that.

~3.  This point is hard to distill.  He begins by decrying caesopapism, but that seemed more relevant to (~2).  He then moves to iconoclasm, but it’s hard to see how the two points are related.  He concludes this point by lamenting the thuggish nationalism in Ukraine.

So, exactly what do I say in response? I’m not sure.  He didn’t actually focus around a single topic so I can’t respond to a single topic.  I have my own thoughts on icons and Ukraine (so, does he support Right Sektor and the child-slaying Banderans?).

~4.  This is nothing more than a summary of a Ted Cruz speech.  If al-Assad were indeed a “secular government with a Muslim culture,” then why are all Muslim cultures trying to kill him?  Why are Christians at the top level of government and military?  If Assad falls, as Wilson seems to hope, then thousands of Christians will drown in blood.

~5.  This might be a legitimate theological criticism.  But it’s just plain bad history.  And a logical fallacy.  Watch this.

If p, then q.

P.

Q.

Basic Modus ponens.   Here is the fallacious form of it.

If p, then q.

Q.

P.

If Icons are bad, then Muslim invasion.

Muslim invasion.

Therefore, icons are bad.

And Wilson teaches logic.

Gary North once said that when your career begins to embrace sin and scandal, God will impose sanctions on you by making your writing very bad.  This happened with Rushdoony.  It is now happening with Wilson. He used to be a good debater.  I’m not much of a debater but this wasn’t that hard.

 

The Case for the Psalms (Wright)

In many ways this might be Wright’s best work ever. I had always suspected something like his thesis when I read the Psalms (more on that below) but I couldn’t articulate it. The psalms give us a musical ontology. Wright says the Psalms transform the reader (better yet, the chanter and singer) because they place him or her at the intersection of Space, Time, and Matter–the very place where Jesus of Nazareth is.

The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential

People who pray the psalms will be learning to live in God’s time, space, and “matter” (the stuff we are made of) as well as our own (Wright 27). The psalms resonate with Jesus because he was the one who stood at the intersection of God’s time/space/matter and ours (30).

The threshold of God’s Time:

The ebb and flow in the Psalms teach us an eschatological balance. The theme of time helps us with those instances where we are called to sing of the enthronement of Yahweh’s king (44). And we shouldn’t shrink back from the royalist overtones in our democratic age, for we are called to be his vice-regents.

More specifically, Yahweh also called Israel to care for the world (Genesis 12:3). But given Israel’s failure, God narrows his focus to the House of David. Therefore, the intersection of God’s time with our time–and always with the Davidic King in the foreground–comes into focus in Psalm 89.

Where God Dwells

The “Temple” is where God’s space and our space intersect. If the world’s Creator lives in Jerusalem, then it stands to reason (Ps. 2) that he will rule from Jerusalem.

“The temple turns out to be an advance foretaste of Yahweh’s claim on the whole of creation…It is a sign that the creator God is desiring…to recreate the world from within” (91).
1. The temple is a heaven-and-earth reality, a microcosm of creation.
2. Psalm 24: Yahweh takes up residence in his temple.
3. Temple and Torah are connected and both point ahead to God’s new place.
4. Temple Psalms and Pneumatology: the new Temple is indwelt by the Spirit.
5. Covenant renewal generates fresh idea of sacred space.

All the trees of the forest sing for joy

Western modernity sees matter as lifeless matter. The Psalms, however, see creation throbbing with the potential glory of God. God’s glory either already fills the whole earth or it will fill the earth (124).

This ties in with Covenant and Kingship: the true King will bring justice and peace to the earth, which will renew creation (Psalm 72).

Wisdom and Creation

Psalm 104:19-24 combines themes from Genesis 1 and Proverbs 8. Paul picks up this Wisdom-Creation tradition and places it in Jesus (Colossians 1:15-20, 2.2-3).

Summary of Theme

Time: the past of creation, the future of Judgment, and the present of celebration are drawn together.
Space: what was promised for the Temple is now promised for the whole world.
Matter: we are standing at the fault line of the original material of creation and the glory-filled material of the new creation (144).

Conclusion and Nota Bene:

The book is simply magnificent. I honestly can’t think of a single flaw.

Nota Bene

Wright says at one time in his life when he was witnessing to Gaia-worshiping pantheists, he felt an oppressive darkness and Yahweh gave him deliverance by bringing Psalm 97 (which happened to be the next Psalm in the prayerbook reading) to mind, “Yahweh is King. Let the Earth rejoice!” p. 175