Can God Do What He Does Not?

Hello readers and welcome back to Deeper Waters, a blog dedicated to diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re studying the doctrine of God in Christian thought. We’ve been using the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas Aquinas, which can be read for free at newadvent.org, as our guide for this study. Right now, we’re studying the topic of the power of God and the question we’re asking tonight is “Can God Do What He Does Not?”

This might seem like a difficult question at first in the sense of wondering what exactly is being asked. The idea is whether or not God is forced to do what he does. Does he have to do one thing and if something happens, then that is the only thing that could happen? Is everything predetermined in the sense that even God is predetermined?

Aquinas says no and points to Matthew 26:53 as his authority with the reminder that Jesus said the Father could send down twelve legion of angels. We know from Scripture that that didn’t happen. Keep that in mind would-be philosophers. The greatest Christian philosophers used Scripture. (As one of my philosophy professors said in our class one day before reading Scripture, “This is a Bible.”) A good Christian philosopher will know Scripture well.

It has been said when we looked at the will of God that God does not act from necessity. The only thing that He wills of necessity is Himself. That means everything else that he wills he wills contingently. He did not have to create, but he chose to create.

Aquinas tells us to look at what the purpose of creation is. Creation is for the glory of God. All things were created that God might have glory and so the divine wisdom acts through the creation in order to bring glory to God. It should be obvious that the end for which creation was made is greater than creation itself.

Because of this, the creation does not restrict God. He can do whatever He wants in it that will bring about glory for Him. God could have acted in any number of ways a number of times. This is especially so if you have beings that have free-will roaming around creation who act out of their own freedom, though acting in a way that is foreknown to God.

But is there any restriction on the way God acts? Yes. God acts according to his nature. God cannot lie for instance. God cannot violate the laws of logic either. God will always act in a way that is wise and just. The point is that there are many different things God is capable of doing in a situation that are wise and just.

For us, we should learn then to trust God. Because God does not act the way that we want Him to, it is easy to think He acted in the way He ought not. God has a number of options on how He can perform and whichever way He chooses, we should believe that He is working all things to our good (if we are Christians) and more importantly, his glory.

We shall continue tomorrow.

One Response to “Can God Do What He Does Not?”

  1. Fred Wolfe Says:

    You are starting to sound like, well, at least a three point Calvinist!

    Come to the dark side…

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