I wanted to respond to Fr Kimel’s article today via another blog post in order to expound on why I recommend the books I recommend. Fr Kimel gives a sourcement of books in regard to the topic of divine simplicity and classical theism. After reading Edward Feser’s response to William Lane Craig, I am going to recommend the following two books.
The reason being is because much of the philosophical language for most people is garble-de-gook at times. It’s not that it’s bad but is it really necessary to understanding classical theism? Both St Julian of Norwich and St Angela of Foligno express God in different ways but both show the overall transcendence of the Creator in their own specific ways.
I recommend these books pre-dominantly for their overall theology of God and specifically for St Angela of Foligno’s rather interesting Trinitarian theology. In one of her visions, she hears from God, “I am the Holy Spirit” a little later, “I am the one who was crucified for you”. Suspicious, her scribe asks her about this and she understands in the Trinity, “[it] was at once one, and a union of many” brushing aside all analogies of the Trinity as imperfect in describing God (Memorial, chapter III). In another place, St Angela speaks of the Father and Lord, head of angels, as God become man (Instruction XXXII). This stresses the oneness of the unity of God as opposed to lead to Modalism. St Angela is very Trinitarian in her theology but what is seen consistently is an emphasis on the unity of the Trinity.
St Julian of Norwich in turn is also highly apophatic in regards to her theology expressing sin as nothingness. God’s mercy and forgiveness being nothing as well except in contrast to the nothingness which is sin.
Both are a little bit easier to grasp for more simple-minded folks like myself but both in turn express the teachings of how classical theists typically think when they speak of God. St Angela constantly reiterating how inexpressible God is in comparison. Neither are highly philosophical.
As for St Maximus the Confessor, I have been reading a whale of a lot lately and am hoping to get to his life of the Virgin Mary soon. I was more under the impression though that the Eastern Orthodox were more Palamite. But alas, we should try to move toward both ultimately. I do recall what St Faustina once stated–God speaks to philosophers as a philosopher and to the simple minded as a simple-minded person. I tend to prefer more simplicity being in awe of the unfathomable and I cannot unfortunately keep up with these kinds of highly sophisticated debates (well the term “Sophist” was originally conceived as an insult in ancient Greek culture so that’s probably a good thing!).
But for those trying to see classical theism without the garble-de-gook jargon, I highly recommend both St Angela of Foligno’s Book and St Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love as these two works are much more easier to understand for those of us simpletons that at least want to say a couple of things about God.