“Come and See”:  A Christological Invitation for Science, Part 3 | The BioLogos Forum

“Come and See”:  A Christological Invitation for Science, Part 3 | The BioLogos Forum.

[Part I of this series may be read HERE.]

In Part II of this series, (taken from Mark Noll’s new book Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind), Noll discussed a debate between two different schools of 13th century thought concerning the relationship of God’s being to that of all other beings. The outcome of this debate, he writes, exerted considerable influence on later Western history. One view, that of Thomas Aquinas, “held that this relationship is largely analogical, that is that while humans and the created world were certainly like God in many ways, the essence of God remained a mystery known only to himself.” So for example, “everything in the world, he [Aquinas] insisted, happened because of God’s direction. But some things happen contingently, or with the appearance of randomness. The logic of their contingency is perfectly clear to God, but because God in his essence is hidden to humans, humans may not be able to grasp how that which they perceive as random could be part of God’s direction of the universe.” The opposing view was held by Duns Scotus. “His position argued for the univocity of being. The only way to know the essence of anything is through its existence. Although God is much greater and much wiser than humans, his being and the being of all other things share a common essence.” It was Scotus’s views that prevailed. Noll believes that the fact that the western church sided with Scotus rather than Aquinas has had significant ramifications for how we think of divine activity in the natural world, and this in turn has played no small role in the current disconnect between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity. In today’s essay, Noll goes on to explore B.B. Warfield as a 100 year old case study of how one person retained a “commitment to the goal of harmonizing a sophisticated conservative theology and the most securely verified conclusions of modern science.” Although, we have posted a significant number of profound articles and video clips on our web-site, we are not sure we know of a single more poignant representation of what BioLogos seeks to do than what is demonstrated in this reflection upon the work of B.B. Warfield.


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

2 thoughts on ““Come and See”:  A Christological Invitation for Science, Part 3 | The BioLogos Forum”

  1. This is sort of mind-bending.
    You are saying that my world, one of mainstream science and evangelical Christianity, was affected by the view of this man I’ve never heard of, whose view is summed up in a way I can’t wrap my head around, because it feels so alien. Yet the summation of the Aquinas view, which did not prevail, (I do have some small familiarity with him of course) makes perfect sense to me and “feels right” as well. I don’t how this happens; I certainly haven’t escaped my culture. But the Aquinas view strikes me as self-evident and the Scotus one as foolishly prideful. The extent of our likeness may be a mystery, but clearly cannot go all the way to “shared essence” because created beings are necessarily less than their creator. Begotten beings would be of one essence with the Creator. I guess the Nicene Creed is deeply embedded in my thinking.


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