1. Furthermore: "Although Leibniz is preferable to Spinoza, even he needs correction since what makes our world the best possible one is specifically that it is redeemed by Christ and perfected by the Spirit. That Trinitarian affirmation is not always as explicit as one wants in Leibniz (but is more so in Barth)" (# 4). This is well said.
2. "Part of the problem with using Leibniz as an apologist is that he himself needs an apology, given the fact that he has few adherents and that his thinking fails to square with that of the classical Reformers" (# 45). I grant the former, but I am not interested in apologetics. As to the latter, Mattes does not deal with the case made in PNT. Following Placher, e.g., Mattes writes: "God is not an agent working alongside us as other agents. Thus, to pit our agency in competition with God's is a category mistake (which sinners habitually make). To illustrate, Placher draws this comparison: Just as the author of a play is not one of the characters of the play, so God is behind all agency in the cosmos, however grand or small, but not himself one of the agents. This would appear to be an interpretation of the Augustinian affirmation that God is the cause of all causes but not the maker of all choices, an important theme for Hinlicky but, in light of Placher's critique, not one that Leibniz is able to deliver well" (#27). This is grossly confused.
3. As Mattes writes: "For Hinlicky, the paradoxes of Luther — God as hidden and revealed, preached and not preached, demanding and promising and the human as simultaneously saint and sinner, bound and free, in not of the world — need to be placed in a wider narrative context in order for them to make sense doctrinally. Hinlicky makes an important point with respect to the didactic role of expounding discursive truth in the Christian faith. The role is important so that one can discern truth from error as one attempts to present Christ as gift (a work of the Holy Spirit to inculcate faith) or grow in knowledge of God. But the paradoxes need not be seen as at odds with narrative. This is a "both/and" matter and not "either/or." The paradoxes are situated within narrative and, conversely, narrative conveys the paradoxes" ( # 20). To this correct elaboration of my concern, Mattes adds his own statement: "Doctrinal systems are devised so that we can teach the faith, so that proclamation will be true to faith... When the distinction of promise and law emerges as central to justification and Lutheran theology, it is not the case that first order language displaces second order. It is not that proclamation takes over and destroys the place of dogma. It is certainly not the case that proclamation is existential, leaving the choice of accepting or not accepting to the decision of one who has been confronted with the divine so that pure faith is in that which is not known, not felt — nevertheless believed. Nothing could be further from the truth." (# 16).
4. "Hinlicky favors Jüngel's description of Nachdenken, our thinking after God once God journeys into his own creation for his own self-identification (and the world's salvation) as what theologians are to do... We can affirm that there is a sense of thinking after (in faith), a discipleship of the mind, what the triune God has done and does. Such thinking is ex post facto of God's creative and re-creative work with humanity and the world. It is never a foretaste, as Hegel would have it, of an apotheosis of human reason with divine reason" (# 37).
5. Therefore, "[t]he locutionary and illocutionary should not be pitted against one another. Proclamation is intertwined with the scriptural narrative and the doctrinal truth of the ecumenical Councils of Constantinople and Chalcedon, and vice versa " (# 40). More biblically, the problem is not merely that the gospel sounds "out of the blue" — not a problem for an apocalyptic theology with its origins on the Road to Damascus, but a strange problem for a theology that wants strictly for the proclamation do all needful work — but rather, as argued in The Substance of the Faith, that proclamation is always in contention with false proclamation as may be seen in Mark 13.
6. "Placher's commentary helps us better understand Luther's description of human cooperation — in both the ungodly and the redeemed — with God. "What I assert and maintain is this: that where God works apart from the grace of His Spirit, He works all things in all men, even in the ungodly; for He alone moves, makes to act, and impels by the motion of His omnipotence, all those things which He alone created; they can neither avoid nor alter this movement, but necessarily follow and obey it, each thing according to the measure of its God-given power. Thus all things, even the ungodly, co-operate with God. And when God acts by the Spirit of His grace in those whom He has justified, that is, in His own kingdom, He moves and carries them along in like manner; and they, being a new creation, follow and co-operate with Him, or rather, as Paul says, are made to act by Him (Rom. 8:14)." To this, Mattes adds his own theodicy: "Thus, as Joseph tells his scheming brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good. . . "(Genesis 50:20) (# 28). Ironically, it is just these ideas of Luther to which Leibniz repeatedly recurs in the Theodicy, a fact that Mattes cannot seem to wrap his head around.
7. Mattes treats my very introduction of the term as "fightin' words:" "The quest for compatibilism must recognize that conflict in theology and with God is unavoidable" (# 38). I suppose this is a covert protest against rapprochement with Catholic perspectives on theological anthropology for which I see as an advantage in Leibniz's work on the compatibility, if I may put it this way, between the spontaneous bondage of the will in the sense of desire (voluntas) and the freedom of choice (arbitrium) which desire has in pursuing its object. Heaven knows in any case, I am no stranger to "polemical theology;" but the intellectual work of theology is to attain such clarity that we can, if need be, achieve disagreement, so that it is, if it must be, divine mystery that is affirmed, not a conceptual muddle.
8. "For Luther, the distinction between appearance and reality is perspectival and not ontological. And, for Hinlicky, if that is the case, then a harmony between faith and reason is in principle possible and desirable for apologetics and doctrinal clarity" (# 5).
9. Specifically, citing Placher, Mattes holds that "late seventeenth and eighteenth century thinkers... were confident of being able to situate God within a metaphysical system. In speaking about God's relation to the world, they followed Francisco Suárez" in the reintroduction of metaphysics (# 23), that is, they "fit God into our ways of thinking rather than naming the limits of our reason — our "seeing through a glass dimly" — in light of God's being and work" (# 43). But how can we know God's being and work to name the limits of reason? Not only is this protest inconsequent, it is regrettably imprecise. Leibniz was ferociously critical of Descartes' anthropological dualism and divine voluntarism, and in any case, resisted the return of metaphysics as first philosophy on the basis of the Geistesphilosophie or general pneumatology of the imago Dei doctrine inherited from Melanchthon. I trust that the reader will not trust Mattes' simplicisms but look and see that case actually made in PNT.
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 10, Issue 8