Re: A freely choosing God? (was: Faith, Evolution, and Tax Dollars?)

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Tue Apr 06 2004 - 15:37:11 EDT

We should remember Augustine's dictum to the Trinity in that we speak of the
Trinity as Father Son and Holy Spirit etc "as it is the only alternative to
silence", or I may add to Unitarianism which Erasmus Darwin described as a
featherbed to catch a falling Christian or some other viewpoint which is on
the way to atheism.
No we need a full-blooded Nicene faith according to the
Nicene-Constantinople Creed which is Trinitarian, and by implication
following Athanasius hold Creatio ex nihilo and of course the two natures of

This is nice and dogmatic but I haven't got the time to argue each point in

O course if God is love then He is limited in that he cannot hate or do
WE should be careful of to much philosophising on the nature of God in an
abstract way if we do not realise the limitations of human language - or
else we end up in the trap of Lutheran or Calvinistic scholastics who have
every buttoned up.


P.S. may I recommend two books by Fitz Allison retired Bishop of South
Carolina - the Rise of Moralism and the Cruelty of Heresy. Bp Spong doesn't
like these books!!
----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas Pearson" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 06, 2004 6:50 PM
Subject: A freely choosing God? (was: Faith, Evolution, and Tax Dollars?)

> On Tuesday, April 6, 2004, George Murphy wrote:
> >>>It is belief
> in creatio ex nihilo that makes it possible to say that God freely
> chooses for there to
> be an other with whom God will be in loving communion. This is why
> Athanasius can say:
> "For God is good, or rather is essentially the source of
> goodness: nor could
> one that is good be niggardly of anything: whence, grudging existence
> to none, He has
> made all things out of nothing by His own Word, Jesus Christ our
> Lord."<<<
> I'm not sure I'm reading you correctly here, George, but isn't there an
> implicit contradiction between any claim that "God freely chooses," and
> the words of Athanasius? If Athanasius is right, then God is
> constrained by his own nature; specifically, by the goodness of his
> nature. In that sense, Athanasius is telling us what God can't do, not
> what God "freely chooses" to do.
> Ever since the voluntarist account of God began to emerge among figures
> like Abelard at the turn of the twelfth century, it seems to me that
> there has been a something profoundly incommensurate between that
> voluntarist portrayal of God, and the more traditional picture of God as
> defined by his attributes (including omnipotence and perfect goodness).
> If God is a "free chooser" in any meaningful sense, then it's hard to
> see how God can be limited by the demands of his nature, as described by
> his attributes.
> Perhaps this is exactly the point you were making, George; but I
> couldn't quite tell.
> One other, related thing. You quoted Emil Brunner as saying:
> >>>"This, however, means that God does not wish to occupy the whole of
> Space Himself, but that He wills to make room for other forms of
> existence. In doing so He limits Himself. . ."<<<
> I have never understood the concept that God "limits himself." I can
> understand the concept that God may be limited by circumstances outside
> of himself, or limited by his own given nature, but not that God is the
> freely acting agent that limits his own agency (unless Brunner is
> reiterating a dubious paradox, such as the familiar "Can God make a rock
> so heavy that he cannot lift it?"). What is it in God that can produce
> this "limit," and what is it that is being limited? The whole concept
> seems oxymoronic to me, given orthodox Christian teaching.
> George, were you offering this citation from Brunner because you agree
> with his argument here? Or for some other reason?
> Tom Pearson
> ______________________________________________________________
> ______________________________________________________________
> Thomas D. Pearson
> Department of History & Philosophy
> The University of Texas-Pan American
> Edinburg, Texas
> e-mail:
Received on Tue Apr 6 17:13:23 2004

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Apr 06 2004 - 17:13:23 EDT