Friday, June 19, 2009

Quotes from Frame on Ethics, Epistemology and Metaphysics

The last 2 chapters from Frame's book The Doctrine of God have provided some tough slogging. Here are a few quotes that piqued my interest:

Speaking of secular ethics: "The main problem is not conceptual confusion, a lack of logical skill, or ignorance of the facts, although such problems do exist in both Christian and non-Christian ethical systems. The chief problem is rather unbelief itself.Secular ethics, like secular epistemology, seeks to find an absolute somewhere other than in the Word of God." (194)

"A fully Christian ethic accepts only God's word as final." (195)

"But to determine what Scripture says about a particular ethical problem, we must know more than the text of Scripture. To know what Scripture says about abortion, we must know something about abortion." (196)

"Put in more practical terms, this means that when we face an ethical problem,or when we are counseling someone else, we need to ask three questions: (1) What is the problem? (the situational perspective). (2) What does Scripture say about it? (the normative perspective). (3) What changes are needed to do the right thing? (the existential perspective)." (196)

"So God is knowable and known, and yet mysterious, wondrous, and incomprehensible." (201)

"So the incomparability of God in limited by the comparisons that he himself has given to us in his revelation." (202)

"Norman Shepherd in a class lecture drew a circle on the board representing our knowledge of God. The circumference represented our exposure to the mystery outside the circle. He then increased the size of the circle to represent an increase in our knowledge of God. But when the circle got larger, so did the circumference, and so did, therefore, our exposure to mystery. The more we know, the more we become aware of what we don't know." (202, footnotes)

"Is God's essence, then, knowable? Yes and no. Yes in that Scripture tells us about some qualities that define God as distinct from other beings, some of which we have already discussed in this book. And when Scripture describes God, it describes him as he really and truly is. So its definitions of God enable us to know him, indeed, know his essence. No, God's essence is not knowable, in that our knowledge of God is certainly not exhaustive." (205)

"Such biblical terms as holiness, goodness, and eternity express God's essence. They tell us what he really is, for Scripture is true. They define him, because through them God has defined himself." (205)

"No, creatures are not necessarily less good than God. Rather, there goodness is of a different kind...So we have here, fundamentally, not a continuum, but a distinction between everything divine and everything creaturely." (219)

"Is it likely that God's holiness, for example, is less essential to his being than spirit, light, and love?...I think not. The biblical passages dealing with these and related attributes, such as his personality, goodness, loving-kindness, and so on, present them as qualities that can never fail, without which God would not be God." (228)

"As indicated earlier, I agree with Aquinas' view that God exists necessarily. He does not merely happen to exist; he must exist. His nonexistence is impossible." (230)

"The point, rather, is that God's existence is necessary to the very existence of logic, for he is the very source of logical truth." (231)

"Certainly some of God's choices are constrained by his own nature. He cannot lie (Titus 1:2), and he cannot deny himself (2 Tim. 2:13). There are, we may say, preventers in God's nature that keep him from doing such things." (234)

"With these explanations, then, I would say that God's essential attributes and actions are necessary, but that his decrees and acts of creation, providence, and redemption are free. They are free,not merely in a compatibilist sense, not at all in a libertarian sense, but in the sense that weknow nothing in God's nature that constrains these acts or prevents their opposites." (236)

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