23 Sep 2011

The God of Simplicity

Submitted by Stephen Winters

Much of theology seems so complex and hard to understand. Is God supposed to be hard to understand? Is there a way to make it simple?

"I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

In recent times I've been thinking such things as, "If God is love, then the reverse is also true, love is God. If God is spirit, the spirit is god. If God is truth, then truth is God." I haven't had the words to go any further than that. This morning I decided to look up "God" on Wikipedia. After reading that article, I was led to the Wikipedia link for "divine simplicity".

In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc. are identical to God's being, not qualities that make up that being, nor abstract entities inhering in God as in a substance..... In classical Christian theism, God is simple, not composite, not made up of thing upon thing. In other words, the characteristics of God are not parts of God that together make up God. Because God is simple, God is those characteristics; for example, God does not have goodness, but simply is goodness.  Wikipedia: Divine Simplicity


Then it hit me, that's what I was thinking about, but just didn't have the words, "Because God is simple, God is those characteristics; for example, God does not have goodness, but simply is goodness." I had never heard of the concept of "divine simplicity", but it makes such perfect sense, especially when compared to the above quote by Holmes. God is simple, but at the other side of complexity. True simplicity has all the details and loose ends worked out.

Now let's add another quote

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Albert Einstein

Now it is beginning to make sense. If someone needs a lot of theological  doctrine and words to try to explain about God, then they just don't understand God well enough yet. For example, this concept is very simole. God is love, therefore love is God. If you want to show someone God, then show them true love. Here we have an example of how to show someone true love:

"4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

If we are to truly walk in the spirit, we do so by living out the life of God. In a very real sense, we are to take on love and have it be who we are. Not "we have love", but rather 'We are love".

And again, God is truth, therefore truth is God. If you want to show someone God, show them truth. More simply, tell them the truth. And the same can be said for the other "attributes" of God.

Then it only follows that if we are to "walk in the spirit" we are to walk in God.

Love is patient, love is kind

 

 

God said, "I AM." If God is the "I AM", then he is .... He doesn't "have" love, but he is love.

 

 


 

 

 

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