As the Poet elegantly observes…

As Zanchi develops the argument for natural revelation, he has moved from the physical, terrestrial creation to the heavenly sphere, and then to man himself. In both his physical make up and spiritual endowments, man himself egregie Deum docet.

Passing over the interesting parallel between the attributes of God and their analogue in the soul of man, I bring to your attention a more concrete image. Following Paul’s example in Acts 17, Zanchi quotes a pagan poet to support his claims about natural revelation. The point he is making, at this juncture of the argument, is the superiority of man to all other animals.

Cum enim animantia cætera ad pastum abiecisset, solum hominem apta & excelsa figura creavit, & ad cœli conspectum excitavit: Quod eleganter observavit Poeta:

Pronaque cum spectent animantia cætera terras,

Os homini sublime dedit, cœlumque tueri

Iussit, & erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.

“Since, then, he has abandoned other animals to the pasture, man alone has he created with an apt and excellent form, and induces him to gaze upon the heavens; which the poet has elegantly observed:

While other animals, prone, gaze at the earth,

An upturned face gave he man, unto heaven

he commanded him to look; walking erect, raising his face to the stars.”

night-stars-sky-nature-tree-scene-863489

My translation pales in comparison to the Latin verse. But I hope the ideas come through. These lines come from Book 1 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses; they describe the creation of man in comparison to other animals. Note, though, the emphasis on the physical makeup of man in distinction to the animals. Man walks on two legs; the beasts on four. The animals look downward; man’s face naturally inclines to the stars and the sky.

C. S. Lewis, in his preface to De Incarnatione by Athanasius, remarks that it is good to read old books because they give you perspective and help to pull you out of the myopia of the now. What Zanchi and Ovid point out, here, about man and his physical constitution, is an elegant example of this. They make much out of the physical constitution of man and derive an argument from it. This is one feature of natural revelation and natural theology that is missing from the conversations of today. Post Freud, most modern discussion of man is focused on his mental/spiritual aspect. It is easy to forget that man is an embodied soul, an “ensouled” body. Older writers were more comfortable making arguments and applications based on the physical constitution of man; we are losing this, or have already lost it, in our day. The familiar lines from Matthew Henry come to mind. He says of Eve that she was not taken from Adam’s head (to lord over him), nor from his feet (to be walked on by him), but from his side (to be his partner and helper). This may sound quaint, but I think Henry, along with Zanchi, is tapping into an important aspect of who we are as physical creatures.

Much hay could be made at this point relating to the gender-bending nonsense of today, but I wouldn’t want to anachronistically sully the beauty of Zanchi’s words here.

Note also the connection between the use of the physical side of man’s nature and poetry. These lines from Ovid are painfully beautiful, particularly the end, “…& erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.” Tolkien taps into this primal attraction that the stars hold for men. In the Simarilion, when the elves are first woken up, they gaze upon the stars and say, “Ea!” From that point forward, the elves are drawn to the stars. It was the light of a star that Galadriel gave to Frodo in her vial and it was looking to the stars in Mordor that encouraged Sam when all around him and Frodo were the darks and blacks of Sauron. If you have only seen the movies, most of the power of these images will be lost on you. Read the books and be bettered.

But, to return to Zanchi. The tangible and earthiness of the Medieval period is one of the beneficial fruits we can draw from it. The Reformed orthodox theologians were men of Medieval mind, as can be seen in Zanchi’s arguments here. Specifically, this appeal to the simple fact that man walks upright, on two legs, as a proof of his superiority to the animals and that he was made to look at the heavens and, subsequently, that he was made to fellowship with God.

“Itaque si resurrexistis cum Christo, superna quærite, ubi Christus eft ad dexteram Dei sedens. Superna curate, non terrestria. Nam mortui estis, vita vestra abscondita est cum Christo in Deo: Post quam autem Christus, vita illa nostra, manifestus factus fuerit, tum & vos cum eo parefietis gloriosi.”

Ad Colossenses, III:1-4.

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Progress of the Work

Greetings fellow pilgrims!

I wanted to give you a brief update on the work I have committed to produce through this blog.

My intention is to produce a readable text of Zanchi’s De Operibus in Latin, in a digital format.  The process for accomplishing this work is time consuming.  As I am in seminary and seeking licensure in the OPC, I can only devote an hour or so a day to this project.  But, it is a project that has engaged me.

Latin, Reformed Theology, philosophy, and rhetoric are the four pillars of my intellectual house.  Zanchi provides material which one can hew and polish for quite some time.  The more I engage with Zanchi, the more my zeal grows to complete this project and share it with you all.

In the first stage, I plan to provide the Epistola Dedicatoria, transcribed in a pdf format.  This section of the book is going to run about 17 or 18 pages, 7000 to 8000 words.  I am transcribing about one of Zanchi’s pages a day, so this stage should be complete by the end of the month of April.

In the second stage, I plan to translate the Epistola Dedicatoria and submit it to an academic journal for publication.  Probably the Confessional Presbyterian, or some other publication that would appreciate this kind of work.  If you all have suggestions for publishing something like this, please let me know in the comments below!

Then, over the summer, I plan to get to work on the body of the work.  In the Google books format that I am working with, Zanchi’s text runs to about 1,111 pages.  This does not include the indices and his analytical outline of the whole work.

You can help me in this project with your prayers for endurance.  Our day is a day that must return ad fontes.  The streams of Reformed orthodoxy, the pools of which were collected in the Creeds and Confessions of the 16th and 17th century, have been closed up though ignorance of Latin, disinterest in all things Medieval, and that pernicious human fault of seeking nova plus quam dura.  If the theological stagnation of the Reformed Churches is to be washed away, the stream from which that great confessional pool was filled must be reopened, and the clear theology of our forefathers allowed to flow down into our time once again.

Brothers, pray for me.

The Lord’ richest blessings in heaven and on earth to you all.  Your simple patronage of this project has been a great encouragement to me.  Deus vos benedicat!

Theology and Grammar

I)

One of the prominent features of the theology of the Reformed Orthodox period is the reliance on Aristotelian categories and metaphysics. The categories aided in making sharp distinctions. The metaphysics applied those distinctions to natural revelation. It was this application of distinctions, chiefly between cause and effect, that allowed our Reformed Orthodox fathers to build a healthy and fruitful natural theology.

This is the task that Zanchi is engaged in in De Operibus. The point in his argument where this is most clearly brought out is in criticizing Greek philosophy and its account of the conservation of mass. This principle of physics states that matter is never destroyed, it only changes states in a closed system. The Greeks attributed this to the five eternal elements. Zanchi does better:

Unde vero materiæ istius simplicissimæ, nullis alterationibus & perpessionibus obnoxiæ, perpetuitas, sive constantia firmissima? Certe ab æterno illo & immutabili, qui semper Erat, Est, & Erit idem: qui hoc argumento fidem suam αψευσον, & constantiam confirmat, teste Psal. 89:3, “In cœlis firmasti veritatem tuam, & c.”

“From whence, then, does the perpetuity or firm constancy of this very simple material without alterations and stubbornly enduring arise? Certainly from the eternity and immutability of He who always Was, Is, and Will Be the same, He who by this argument establishes his own undeceptive faithfulness and constancy. Even as Psalm 89:3 testifies, “In the heavens you established your truth, etc.”

The question that Zanchi is dealing with here is one of cause and effect. The effect which the Greeks and Zanchi both observe is the stability of simple matter, though is passes through various states and positions. The Greeks thought that this was caused by a property in the material itself. But, an effect cannot be its own cause. Thank you, Aristotle.

Zanchi shows how divine simplicity accounts for this effect. Note that the stability of the material creation depends on the “eternity and immutability” of God. Note, also, how Zanchi refers to God in this connection. Zanchi is reflecting the Hebrew practice of denoting the supreme deity with the being verb in all three tenses, and then applying that use of the being verb in all three tenses as a name. This is evident in Revelation 1:4, 8; 4:8; 11:17; and 16:5. This practice developed within Judaism, reflecting upon the revelation of the divine name in Exodus 3:14. The LXX translation of this verse reflects that development in translating it as, εγω ειμι ο ων. That this tripartite use of the being verb is meant as a divine title is evident from the context and the capitalization. For a fuller discussion of the precedent in Revelation see G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 187-189 and David E. Aune, Revelation 1-5, Word Biblical Commentary 52 (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1997), 30-33. In my translation, I have kept the capitalization.

He then gives an example of how natural revelation should lead us to ascend to God himself. Quoting Psalm 89 (his verse numbering is based on the Hebrew text which includes the Psalm title as a separate verse. In your English Bible, it will be verse 2), he states that this is the logical move men should make. He is then reading Psalm 89:3 as saying that since the heavens are firmly established, and you, God, made them, you are firmly faithful. The immutability of the Creator is witnessed by the constancy of the created order.

As a contextual note, Zanchi is dealing with the heavenly sphere which, in the Medieval cosmology, was considered an unchanging and permanent aspect of creation. This was based on the constancy of the stars as can be seen in the constellations.

Your English translation may take the verb in Psalm 89:3 as future. This is probably correct, though, Zanchi was the preeminent Hebrew scholar of his day. So we won’t quibble with him on this point. More than likely this is his own translation from the Hebrew. What he has probably done is transposed the the tense of the main verb of this clause into the verb he is deriving an argument from.

At any rate, this move by Zanchi is an example of how natural theology was related to theology proper. It is because of divine simplicity which entails immutability, that the creation is stable. An effect cannot be greater than, nor be its own, cause. This in turn should lead to recognizing that there is a Creator who is immutable and distinct from his creation which depends for its existence (the great effect) on him (the great cause).

II)

It was common for the Reformed Orthodox to derive divine simplicity from the revelation of the divine name in Exodus 3:14. This move, however, has fallen on hard times. The typical exegetical emphasis, today, is on the covenantal, and hence, personal nature of the revelation in Exodus 3:14. The history of redemption and the discipline of biblical theology has helped to shed light on his aspect of the passage. It is a helpful observation and should not be forgotten. In context, the revelation of the divine name in Exodus is the precursor to God’s deliverance of Israel in fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant. There is a strong covenantal context to the revelation. But, this does not exclude the metaphysical/theological gold that was extracted by our reformed orthodox fathers.

This is based, primarily, in the content of the revelation. What God reveals to Moses is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is He who Is what He Is. Within the limitations of human language, this is the highest expression of divine simplicity possible. What God revealed to Moses was that He is the one Who exists, without any other predication or qualification. Who else could this be but that summum & optimum Ens?

Even in the Scriptural account of this revelation, the use of the being verb as the divine name presents itself. The Reformed Orthodox were tapping into his use of the being verb, as the example of Zanchi shows.

III)

Human language is wonderfully complex. If you have ever studied a foreign language, you will acknowledge this with no argument. Nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, particles, articles, suffixes, affixes, “in-fixes” (-ba-, for the Latin students), conjunctions; all display the beautiful complexity of human language. Not only the elements, but also the history of various languages shape their complexity. Like a stately oak, human languages an knurled, crooked, and, when considered in their details, bent and twisted. But, still more like the oak, taken as a whole, human language reaches ever upward, to heaven. As God has revealed himself and as men reflect on this, human language rises ever upward to render praise to Him who is beyond human expression. Our clauses, like branches, reach toward heaven, never able to reach it but also not able to desist from reaching towards the unreachable. This is due to the disconnect between the complexity of human language and the simplicity of the divine Being.

This is the situation we find ourselves in when it comes to theology proper. In giving expression to divine simplicity, what more can we do than naming God (as he first named himself) as He who Is, Was, and ever Will be the same? In praising God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we bow in adoration of Him and cease trying to say more than we should.

And, yet, this very inexpressible simplicity of God is our salvation. As Zanchi teaches us, it is in returning to Him, that highest Being, that simple and unchangeable one, that we attain our highest blessedness. And it is precisely because he is simple, immutable, ever our covenant Jehovah, that we can repose on him and his own undeceptive faithfulness. And why is his faithfulness undeceptive? Because He himself, is ever the same, unchanging, from everlasting to everlasting God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Concrete Images

Speaking of Holy Scripture, Zanchi extols it thus:

tanquam κειμηλιον inæstimabile, soli Ecclesiæ cœlitus donatum: denique nocturna diurnaque, manu versandæ, & imo pectore recondendæ sunt.

“As it were, an inestimable jewel, the heavenly gift given to the one Church; in short they (sacrae Scripturae) ought to be, day and night, handled, and verily, rehearsed by heart.”

I present this example of Zanchi’s writing as an example of concrete expression. This sentence means, simply put, that we should read the Scriptures daily and memorize them. Putting it as I have, there is nothing wrong with expressing this duty of Christians in simple, direct (albeit) abstract language. “Abstract, you say?” Yes. The act of reading and memorizing describe actions of the soul that are spiritual, that is non physical. Memorization is a purely mental act and reading, if it lacks mental engagement, is not reading at all. They are therefore abstract actions descried, in my words, abstractly.

Zanchi gives us an example of how, and why, we should strive for concrete expression, especially in hortatory or persuasive communication. Note that he first describes the preciousness of the Scripture as an “inestimable jewel.”

Excellent. Immediately, our minds are drawn to the diamond on our wife’s ring, or a crown we have seen in a museum, or the rock that Abu stole from the Cave of Wonders. The concreteness of Zanchi’s expression “tangibly” presents to our minds the idea he intends to communicate.

Next, he speaks of the appropriate response to this heavenly gift to the Church (soli Ecclesiæ cœlitus donatum). We ought to, “day and night” (nocturna diurnaque)… In expressing the time we should devote to the study of Scripture, Zanchi appropriates one of the first aspects of the concrete, actual, physical creation; the day and night cycle. “And the evening and morning: one day.” This is one of the first realities of creation that children recognize, and the most pervasive feature of it. No matter what language you speak, what climate you inhabit, what food you eat or clothes you wear; you experience day and night. This expression is, then, more concrete than “all the time”, and hence more persuasive and gripping.

The act of reading is described by Zanchi as, literally, “turning them (the Scriptures) over by hand” (manu versandæ). This touches us more closely than simply saying that we should read Scripture. Rather, we should turn the physical pages over by hand. And haven’t you experienced this? When you have been reading a certain Bible over a period of time (day and night, perhaps) and the pages, after being handled and mussed or yellowed by the oils of your skin, you develop a certain affection, not just for all Bibles, but for that one?

My mother gave me her Bible when I became a Christian. It was printed in 1950, has been bound twice: once with duct tape, once by a professional. Some of the pages are torn, crimped, and (like all Bibles that I read regularly) stained with coffee. In the Psalms, my mother wrote the numbers of all the Psalms that appear on each page in the upper margin. When this Bible was printed, they did not indicate which Psalms were on the page you had opened to. And so, my mother remedied that fault, by hand.

This old Bible that my mother gave me is one that manu versatus erat (has been turned over by hand). I therefore have a greater affection for it than for other Bibles that I own. And this physical connection between the book and the hand is what Zanchi is tapping into when he enjoins the reading of Scripture by saying that we should turn it over by hand. Don’t just read it, handle them.

He brings the privilege of having Scripture closer to home by saying that we should corde recordandae. This expression is hard to translate into English. Literally, it means “re-hearting with the heart.” At any rate, by expressing the means by which we should meditate on Scripture, Zanchi uses a concrete image. It is not the mind or the intellect, but the heart by which we meditate.

Note also the movement from external interaction with the hands to internal interaction with the heart. Like a person beholding a beloved object, taking it up with her hands, and pressing it to her chest, so ought we to value the Scripture.

Concrete images are better than abstract, just as a house is better than the blue-print. Chew on this as you put pen to paper the next time you write.

Vox Populi, Vox…modi mei

Greetings all!

I have been pleasantly surprised at the positive reception that this project has gotten.  It appears there were more like me who want to get back to the fontes of the Reformation.

I am plugging away at the Zanchi text, and had a question for you, my followers.

What do you want to see from this project?  A Latin text?  A Latin text with footnotes?  A reader’s Latin text with glosses to aid in reading?  A translation?

Let me know in the comments to this post.  If you comment on Facebook or Twitter, I’ll look at that too.  Right now I am planning on doing a simple Latin text with nothing else, but if there is something more, let me know.

Or, would you like more of the posts that I have been doing?  Expounding bit by bit the theology of Zanchi as found in this work?

A Nursing Father

Zanchi dedicated his work, De Operibus Dei intra spatium sex dierum creatis (here after abbreviated to De Operibus), to the Duke of Bavaria and Count of the Palatinate of the Rhine, Johann Casimir and his young nephew, Frederick.

Dedication of the work

Illustrissimo ac Potentissimo Principi, ac Domino, Domino Johanni Casimiro, Palatino Rheni, Duci Bavariae, Tutori & Electoralis Palatinatus Administratori, & c.

AC

Illustrissimo et Generosissimo Principi ac Domino, Domino Frederico, Palatino Rheni, Duci Bavariae, Electoralis Palatinatus hearedi, & c.

“To the renowned and mighty Prince and Lord, Lord Johann Casimir, Palatinate of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, Protector and Administrator of the Palatine Electorate, et cetera.

And

To the famous and generous Prince and Lord, Lord Frederick, Palatinate of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, Heir to the Palatine Electorate, et cetera.”

Who was Johnann Casimir? This is a question that has occupied me for a few days (hence the paucity of posts here). There is not much material available about Casimir. In the age in which he lived, many princes attempted and achieved far more than he. The ruler of a small region in Germany, he was overshadowed by his more prominent relatives.

Johann Casimir was the fourth son of Frederick III, Elector of the Palatinate. This Frederick is not to be confused with his cousin (first, second, or third, I cannot decipher. European nobility is all one big family anyhow, right?), Frederick III, Elector of Saxony otherwise known as Frederick the Wise.

Frederick, Elector Palatine, and his son Johann, were both convinced Calvinists and used their positions to support, aid, and promote the spread of Calvinism in Germany. It was under his father, Frederick, that Ursinus produced the Heidelberg Catechism. It was also during Frederick’s time as elector that tensions in France between the crown and the Huguenots increased. Johann was sent to France at the head of mercenary troops to support the oppressed Huguenots on two occasions.

When Frederick died, the Electorate passed to Johann’s elder brother, Ludwig IV. Ludwig was a convinced Lutheran and, as those who know the history of the Post-Reformation period will anticipate, tensions between the Lutheran Ludwig and the Calvinist Casimir increased. It was during this time that the great debate over the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper was being carried out.

After the death of Ludwig in 1583, Johann became regent for his young nephew, Frederick. It was to these two, Johann Casimir and Frederick, the son of Ludwig, that De Operibus was dedicated.

What prompted Zanchi to dedicate this work to Casimir? During the time of Ludwig’s electorate, Calvinism was hotly opposed in Heidelberg. All of the Calvinist faculty was driven out. Johann then created a refuge for Reformed learning in Neustadt, just across the Rhine from Heidelberg. This school was called the Casimirianum. Founded in 1578, it only lasted 5 years, as Ludwig died, Johann took over for his young nephew and all the Calvinists moved back to Heidelberg.

The actions of Casimir highlight an aspect of the Reformation that most moderns either neglect or flatly oppose. That aspect is the magisterial component of the spread of the Reformation. From Edward, King of England, to Johann, the lesser son of a German noble house, the history of the Reformation displays a fulfillment of Isaiah 49:23:

And kings shall be thy nursing fathers,
and their queens thy nursing mothers:

This text is cited in the original Westminster Confession of Faith in that much maligned Chapter 23, “Of the Civil Magistrate.” The reference is to paragraph 3. In particular:

…yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preservered in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline be prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed.

The American Revision of 1788, which removed this statement from the Confession, replaced it with these words:

…or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord…”

There are more changes to the American Revison, but they need not detain us here. Isaiah 49:23 is also cited for the answer to Larger Catechism 191: What do we pray for in the second petition (in the Lord’s Prayer)? In particular this section:

…the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate.

The answer to WLC Q. 191 has not been changed in the American Revision. The original Confession does not cite Isaiah 49:23 to support this answer.


So, what is going on here? The American Revision, in general reflects a non-establishmentarian view of the relation between the church and state. The original Confession, however, reflects an establishmentarian view of the relation between church and state.

Before we look at the interpretation of these two confessions, a word about the charge of Erastianism which is often leveled against the original Confession. That the original Confession is not an Erastian document is aptly proven by Chapter 30, “Of Church Censures,” paragraph 1:

The Lord Jesus, as King and Head of his church, hath therein appointed a government, in the hand of church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.

When the Assembly submitted this statement to the Parliament, which was heavily Erastian, the divines were held in contempt of Parliament. They risked all their privileges that they had enjoyed up to that point under Cromwell to make the case that the government of the church was distinct from that of the state. However one reads the original Confession, Erastianism is not part of it.

Now, to the differences between the confessions; when comparing the confessions, it is often illuminating to note, not simply the textual changes, but also the Scripture proofs cited to support the statements. In this example, the Americans changed the text in Chapter 23 and added a reference to WLC 191.

What they are communicating, in this writer’s opinion, is that the Confession ipse gives the American understanding of Isaiah 49:23 (the term nursing father is confessionalized in the American version). And, that understanding is to be carried over to the answer to WLC 191. That is, even though they did not change the language of WLC 191, their understanding of that section of the answer is governed by the change they made to 23:3. This carry over is justified by the addition of Isaiah 49:23 to WLC 191, which text in Isaiah is explained in 23:3 of the American Revision. The American version, therefore, has removed all establishmentarian elements from the Confession, though the last vestige of that principle (WLC 191) was left unchanged. The Scripture proofs tell the tale.

“Did you forget about Johann Casimir?” I thought you’d never ask. The history of the Reformation, in which Casimir was but one small player, shows the active role that princes took in the promotion of the Reformation. And Zanchi’s dedication to him, as a prince (along with Calvin’s to Edward VI and King Francis in the Institutes), shows that the Reformers were grateful for that countenance and maintenance.

How would the Reformation have been different if the theology contained in the original Confession were not accepted? Would Luther have made it past Worms? The Lord knows. But, thankfully, we don’t live in that world. We live in the world where the Reformation was promoted by kings and princes and her theology is still with us here today.

That Long Looked for Blessedness

I noted in an earlier post that Zanchi calls God that highest and best Ens. You can read that post here.

Here is part of the line from which that description of God is found:

ut viam investigarent, & invenirent, qua tandem ad summum illud & optimum Ens, a quo turpiter discesserant miseri mortales, redire, ac exoptata beatitudine frui possent.

Translated: “so that they might search out and find that path by which they may be able, in the end, to return to that highest and best Being, from whom miserable mortals had shamelessly withdrawn, and also enjoy a long looked for blessedness.”

Zanchi’s use of the term Ens is common in scholastic theology and medieval philosophy. But, like most things medieval or scholastic, this predicate for God was burned in that conflagration we call the modern age.

Here is Muller on ens:

ens: being (generally); a being; an existent or a thing; in scholastic theology and philosophy, as distinct from most contemporary, post-Kantian philosophy, ens is the most simple predicate. It indicates the reality of a thing, the coincidence of esse, or the actus essendi, the act of existing, with the essentia, the essence or “whatness” of a thing. In the case of the entire finite or contingent order, ens is not a necessary or essential predicate, since there is nothing in the essentia, or whatness, of a contingent being to indicate that it must be…all finite beings can not-be. In the sole instance of God, however, esse is an essential or necessary predicate: God cannot not-be since it is of the very essence, or whatness, of God that God always is. By definition, any being that need not exist cannot be God. In God, as distinct from all other beings, esse and essentia are inseparable. It belongs to the whatness of God that God is fully actualized existence, actus purus essendi and ens necessarium.

Grammatically, ens is a present active participle in Latin, exactly equivalent to the English being itself also a present active participle. A participle is a verbal noun. As a noun, it is a substantive. As a verb it is active (at least in the active participle). There is no other grammatical form so apt at predicting the pure act of God than the present participle of the being verb, ens.

From the use of this term, and Muller’s erudite summary of its signification, many aspects of scholastic and medieval theology are evident. First, the seeds of the ontological argument can be seen. Second, one, at least, of the sources of conflict between the classical theists and theistic mutualists. The source of that conflict, at least in part, arises from the difference in metaphysical conception between the scholastics and the post-Kantian theologians. Where the scholastic and the medievalists would say God must be this way, therefore he is this way; the Kantian and post-Kantian says, “I’m not so sure about that synthetic intuition.”

But, even though the concept of God as summum ens is borrowed from Aristotle through Aquinas, the knowledge of him is not dry speculation. Note the last clause of the quote above:

redire, ac exoptata beatitudine frui possent.

The end, goal, or telos of searching out this path is so that we might return by it to God, the summum illud & optimum ens! And in returning, we enjoy that long hoped for blessedness that Adam lost and miserable mortals have been searching for ever since. Note, here, this connection between high theology (God as summum ens) and deep piety (they we might be able to enjoy that blessedness). This is an instance of what the Puritans meant when they said that doctrine must be taught practically, and duty must be enjoined doctrinally.

Confessing that God is the summum ens, so far from being dry Aristotelian philosophy, is the key to having the abundant life of which Jesus spoke (John 10:10). For only He who has all fullness of life, being in no way a potential God, but the fully actualized God, has fullness of blessing. And in returning to him by the path marked out in creation and Scripture, do we find that long looked for blessedness.