God’s simplicity and immateriality

De Trin. VI.6.8 is a hugely important exposition of the basic logic behind affirming God’s simplicity and immateriality:

En premier lieu, tout corps est composé de parties, de telle sorte que l’une est plus grande, l’autre plus petite, et que toute partie, quelle qu’elle soit et si (438) grande qu’elle soit, est moindre que le tout. En effet, le ciel et la terre sont des parties de l’univers; la terre en particulier, le ciel en particulier sont composés de parties innombrables, et moindres dans le tiers que dans le reste, dans la moitié que dans le tout; et l’univers entier, vulgairement désigné par ces deux parties, le ciel et la terre, est évidemment plus grand que le ciel seul ou que la terre seule.

Every body makes up a small portion of the furniture of the universe: it is a thing among things. Further, by its very nature, a body can be otherwise than it is, for bodies consist of conceptually distinct parts: mass, volume, color, etc., each of which might be altered in isolation from the others. But God, Augustine reasons, is not like this: he cannot in himself be one part of the universe, because he formed all the universe; he cannot be subject to change, because he is the sufficient reason for all the universe’s changing.

This clarifies how we might respond to Sommer’s arguments about God’s embodiment from a canonical, higher-order theological perspective: the claims he makes (if taken prescriptively, at least) seem to compromise the doctrine of creation, as well as the unity of God’s essence (so compromising as well the possibility of Triune consubstantiality).

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