Philosophy in the Service of Theology 2
Part 2 “Epistemology”
Within Reformed theology, Oliphint (Reasons for Faith) looks to work out the implications of that theology for a Christian-theistic epistemology. The starting, if we are going to say anything about the nature of things, should be creation – according to Oliphint.
There is something we can know about everything; we can know that everything is created, except of course, God.
There is a duality of existence – Creator/creature. Such a basic truth for Christians, yet very few start with this presupposition when thinking about how we know God.
(See Van Til’s Two Circles diagram below)
Further, the Christian approach begins to look at (1) the character of God and (2) the possibility of know him. Oliphint argues that the place to begin is the discussion on the doctrine of the simplicity of God.
Simplicity – Denial of any composition of parts in God. Whatever attributes, qualities, or properties inhere essentially in God, they are identical with his essence.
Oliphint suggests that the clearest and most articulate objections to the simplicity of God comes from Alvin Plantinga, whose objections mainly come from Thomas Aquinas’ discussion of simplicity. Plantinga’s argument goes like this – If God is identical with his properties, then God himself is a property; and if God is a property, he cannot be personal. For God not to be simple, then he, according to Plantinga, is neither sovereign nor a se. For Oliphint (and me) these are troubling conclusions.