Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ordained and Absolute Power

From Oberman's Harvest of Medieval Theology

The potentia ordinata and absoluta should not be seen as two different ways of divine acting, since all of God's works ad extra are united (Oberman 37).  God does things according to the laws he has established, potentia ordinata.  However, he can do everything that does not imply a contradiction, potentia absoluta.

de potentia ordinata:  necessity of the consequence; relates to the contingent order.  Since this is not a logical absolute, this means humans cannot predict what predestination per the contingent order will do, since it is contingent (this is a huge point in later Reformed Scholastics).

de potentia absoluta:  this does not mean that God can do anything he wants.  It means he can do anything that doesn't imply a logical contradiction.  This distinction allowed scholastics to speak of miracles in the created order without the later Humean charge of a violation of natural law.

Is this the best way to speak?  Probably not, but it does allow for helpful distinctions.  Later on it would be abused.

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