Author Topic: Old Testament laws and nominalism  (Read 200 times)

Offline Iamchristian

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Old Testament laws and nominalism
« on: October 21, 2020, 04:35:30 AM »
I saw a Jewish Rabbi on a television program. The interviewer asked about circumsision. The Rabbi could not give a good explanation of why God wanted his people to be circumsised.
I also asked a Rabbi online about Jews and statues/images. He just told me that it was forbidden for Jews to use such objects.

Are Jews, including Rabbis, people who just do things without knowing why?
It seems that Jews believe that God can order them to do things just because He is God. Reminds me of nominalism. Is this nominalism or just poorly educated people? If you don't have the Church then you can be poorly educated about the Old Testament laws.


Anyway, I don't like this nominalism.
Is nominalism a heresy? It seems like a heresy.
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Old Testament laws and nominalism
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2020, 08:55:32 AM »
I think what you're asking about is divine command theory, not nominalism. (Nominalism is a metaphysically antirealist position whereby there is no standard by which "goodness" can be measured; divine command theory is a metaphysically realist position whereby God's arbitrary decrees are the standard by which "goodness" is to be measured.)

I don't know if divine command theory has ever been condemned as heresy, but I do know that most Catholic theologians have rejected it. (Because most Catholic theologians say that God's decrees are not arbitrary to begin with, but that God's decrees follow necessarily from His nature.)

With regard to ceremonial laws though (e.g. circumcision), I think divine command theory is actually true. For these particular laws, there really isn't an answer "why" other than "because God commanded it". Catholics can (in hindsight) explain the fittingness of circumcision by pointing out its deeper significance (anagogic, allegorical, and moral), and I think Jewish commentators have tried doing this too, but the fact remains that God didn't need to command circumcision. And if He didn't, it wouldn't be binding.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2020, 09:16:47 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Iamchristian

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Re: Old Testament laws and nominalism
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2020, 03:47:59 PM »
I think what you're asking about is divine command theory, not nominalism. (Nominalism is a metaphysically antirealist position whereby there is no standard by which "goodness" can be measured; divine command theory is a metaphysically realist position whereby God's arbitrary decrees are the standard by which "goodness" is to be measured.)

I don't know if divine command theory has ever been condemned as heresy, but I do know that most Catholic theologians have rejected it. (Because most Catholic theologians say that God's decrees are not arbitrary to begin with, but that God's decrees follow necessarily from His nature.)

With regard to ceremonial laws though (e.g. circumcision), I think divine command theory is actually true. For these particular laws, there really isn't an answer "why" other than "because God commanded it". Catholics can (in hindsight) explain the fittingness of circumcision by pointing out its deeper significance (anagogic, allegorical, and moral), and I think Jewish commentators have tried doing this too, but the fact remains that God didn't need to command circumcision. And if He didn't, it wouldn't be binding.
Nominalism leads to Voluntarism. This was what I was thinking about.
I, personally, am a realist. Dun Scotus was a realist and a voluntarist. 
« Last Edit: October 21, 2020, 03:57:57 PM by Iamchristian »
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Old Testament laws and nominalism
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2020, 08:25:13 AM »
I'm not sure I understand. I don't see how the examples you gave have much to do with either nominalism or voluntarism.

Nominalism never made much sense to me. Maybe conceptualism could work. But not nominalism. Nominalism--at least from what I can tell--is incoherent. I don't know if it has ever been condemned as a heresy, but I don't see how anyone could possibly believe in it without adopting some crazy cosmological or metaphysical framework incompatible with Catholicism.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2020, 08:42:50 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline james03

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Re: Old Testament laws and nominalism
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2020, 10:13:18 PM »
Almost sounds like you are talking about positivism, not nominalism.

Strange that the jews reject statues as God commanded them to build angel statues in the temple.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

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Offline Daniel

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Re: Old Testament laws and nominalism
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2020, 08:33:29 AM »
Strange that the jews reject statues as God commanded them to build angel statues in the temple.

But this is easily accounted for if we take the angel statues--which God commanded--to be an exception to the general rule. Maybe the general rule is something like, "You are not allowed to make artwork". But the implied exception is, "You are allowed to make art when God gives specific instructions telling you what to make and how to make it". (Obviously orthodox Christians reject this interpretation, but I don't see any inconsistency here.)
 

Offline Michael Wilson

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Re: Old Testament laws and nominalism
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2020, 12:45:47 PM »
The Jews were commanded to not make images of God; not any images. The first temple was full of paintings and the two giant statues of the Angles. The command served to prevent the Jews from falling into idolatry, which they were prone to.
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