Debating the Simple God



In the last few years, few issues have been more controversial among Reformed evangelicals than the debate over the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father.[1] To the extent that God’s intra-triune life has been thought to be the foundation and model of inter-human relationships, many have perceived their various social programs (particularly in relation to the sexes) to be at stake, at times driving the debate’s resolution in a particular direction. One meta-issue continually at the forefront in the debate over eternal subordination concerns the traditional doctrine of God’s simplicity. In classical Christian theology, it is insisted that God is not composed of parts. The simple in divine simplicity is not simple as opposed to complex, but simple as opposed to composite. It is clear that, for instance, God is not a composition of soul and body. But from the classical theist perspective, the doctrine of divine simplicity goes further than this. God is also not composed of His attributes. They do not inhere in Him as accidental properties of a fundamental “God” substance. Rather, God’s existence is simply as His attributes, which simply are Him, and which (then) are to be seen as diverse ways of naming all that is in God. What is more, since there is only one God who just is (for instance) His own will, it is problematic—from a classical perspective—to speak of the Son as “submitting” to the Father in the intra-triune life from eternity past. It is difficult to see how this would not imply a multiplicity of wills of which God’s supposed “one will” is an amalgam. Read more…

“What Has Athens to Do With Jerusalem?”



Within a month, The Davenant Institute will release an anthology volume entitled Philosophy and the Christian: The Quest for Wisdom in the Light of Christ. Compared to most of our publications, this particular one might seem rather redundant in our day. Hasn’t enough, maybe even too much, already been said?  In the last few decades, there has been a cottage industry of major and minor historical and normative treatments of philosophy written by an Evangelical theologians and philosophers. Why enter the fray with yet another such volume? What could possibly justify the existence of this volume in light of so many other contributions? Read more…

James Ussher and the Reduction of Episcopacy


James Ussher

James Ussher was born to Arland and Margaret Ussher in Dublin on 4 January 1581, the fifth of their ten children. This prominent Anglo-Irish family embodied in miniature the religious divisions of late sixteenth-century Ireland. His uncle, Henry Ussher, was the Protestant Archbishop of Armagh from 1595 until his death in 1613. On the maternal side, his uncle Richard Stanihurst was an advocate on the continent for the Irish Catholic cause, and his cousin Henry Fitzsimon was a Jesuit controversialist active in the Irish mission. According to his first biographer, Nicholas Bernard, Ussher’s mother was “seduced by some of the Popish Priests to the Roman Religion” whilst Ussher was in England, and she never returned to the Protestant faith, a cause of much anguish for her son.[1] Read more…