Was God obligated to create the best of all possible worlds?

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Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Ruben,

Thanks for responding.

(1) What is the difference between God putting Himself as His ultimate end, and God putting His self-glorification as His ultimate end?

(2) I did not intend to suggest that God has conflicting inclinations, not in the least.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
1. God's self-glorification refers to the manifestation of His glory (as His glory is not susceptible of increase or diminution). Manifestation involves the concept of an audience. God willing Himself implies nothing about things external to Him.

2. Good.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
God's will is His existence. When you come back to these ultimate levels the simplicity of God has to be a governing concern, so you can't forget that there is nothing accidental in Him. It's not as if He's barely hanging onto existence by a continual effort of will; but His existence is volitional, there is nothing potential in Him, He is fully realized - actus purissimus.
 

Spinningplates2

Puritan Board Freshman
I think you should search your spirit to find out why you would ask a question such as this. What type of person on this board whoul think that God would or could do anything less then perfect. I think you should give an example of God doing anything, ever, less then perfect. In all honesty sometimes you worry me.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
God's will is His existence. When you come back to these ultimate levels the simplicity of God has to be a governing concern, so you can't forget that there is nothing accidental in Him. It's not as if He's barely hanging onto existence by a continual effort of will; but His existence is volitional, there is nothing potential in Him, He is fully realized - actus purissimus.

I have a further question:

Is this similar/identical to Thomas Aquinas's notion that God's existence is His essence?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
It is. Of course, I would deny that this is simply Thomas' notion. This quote from Heppe should show that:

—Next it has to be acknowledged that in the absolute essence essentiality is completely identical with personality, existence and substance. In creaturely substances these differ from each other, because in their case the one is carried by the other. God in His essence is life par excellence and absolutely unifold life and absolutely unifold actuosity (actus purissimus et simplicissimus).
Polan (II, 5): "God's essence is Deity itself, by which God is and exists absolutely a se and per se". At the same time the concept of "God's essence" is not made properly clear, until the difference between it and the concept of creaturely truth is visualized. Three points require consideration here. "(1) Essence and ho wn, he who is, differ in creatures: God alone is that which He is and is who He is, i.e., an ousia which does not depend on another. (2) Though essence and existence differ in creatures, they do not do so in God. (3) Essence and substance differ in the same way in creatures, because essence is contained in substance, and besides the essence itself, all the things that naturally inhere in the essence. But in things divine they mean that same thing."

And there is great unanimity on this topic of simplicity. So the denial that God's attributes are really distinct from His essence is taken up by Turretin, and thus in the third topic, question five, denies, against the Socinians, that the divine attributes can really be distinguished from the divine essence. And so he says, "Thus omnipotence is the divine essence itself apprehended as free from every obstacle in acting; eternity is the essence of God as without limit in duration; and so of the rest." Or a little below, "The attributes of God cannot really differ from his essence or from one another (as one thing from another) because God is most simple and perfect." They are essentially and intrinsically one in God, but we have different conceptions of then, and so "it is best to say that these attributes giving rise to such conceptions are virtually to be distinguished both from the essence and from each other." Turretin does not differ from his cohorts in this matter. Drawing from Heppe's Reformed Dogmatics here is another helpful excerpt:

...Hottinger, p.44: "The attributes are distinguished neither from the essence nor from each other but only by our conceiving".—Hence, since every attribute is a manifestation of the same absolutely simple essentiality of God, it may justifiably be said (Braun, I, ii, 2, 19) that "God's righteousness is His goodness, is His knowledge, is His will; or His mercy is His righteousness, etc. But it would be wrong for me to say that the concept I have of the righteousness is the same concept which I have of the deity, mercy or eternity."

In his Vindiciae Evangelicae Owen also manifests his agreement, writing against Mr. Biddle. I cite the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of Owen's reasons against Biddle's exceptions to the simplicity of God, which includes an identification of God as actus purissimus.

Secondly, God is absolutely and perfectly one and the same, and nothing differs from his essence in it: “The LORD our God is one LORD,” Deuteronomy 6:4; “Thou art the same,” Psalm 102:27. And where there is an absolute oneness and sameness in the whole, there is no composition by an union of extremes. Thus is it with God: his name is, “ I AM; I AM THAT I AM ", Exodus 3:14, 15; “Which is,” Revelation 1:8. He, then, who is what he is, and whose all that is in him is, himself, hath neither parts, accidents, principles, nor any thing else, whereof his essence should be compounded.
Thirdly, The attributes of God, which alone seem to be distinct things in the essence of God, are all of them essentially the same with one another, and every one the same with the essence of God itself. For, first, they are spoken one of another as well as of God; as there is his “eternal power” as well as his “Godhead.” And, secondly, they are either infinite and infinitely perfect, or they are not. If they are, then if they are not the same with God, there are more things infinite than one, and consequently more Gods; for that which is absolutely infinite is absolutely perfect, and consequently God. If they are not infinite, then God knows not himself, for a finite wisdom cannot know perfectly an infinite being. And this might be farther confirmed by the particular consideration of all kinds of composition, with a manifestation of the impossibility of their attribution unto God; arguments to which purpose the learned reader knows where to find in abundance.
Fourthly, Yea, that God is, and must needs be, a simple act (which expression Mr B. fixes on for the rejection of it) is evident from this one consideration, which was mentioned before: If he be not so, there must be some potentiality in God. Whatever is, and is not a simple act, hath a possibility to be perfected by act; if this be in God, he is not perfect, nor all-sufficient. Every composition whatever is of power and act; which if it be, or might have been in God, he could not be said to be immutable, which the Scripture plentifully witnesseth that he is.
 
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steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Hey Guys,
hope you had a good weekend with the Saints! A couple of things ...

1.Are we straying off topic a bit?
2.I did my homework reading through those threads on figurative descriptions of God, and the two wills, which Ruben graciously linked. I feel enlightened, though some of the debate was closed before reaching it conclusion :(

Maybe we can get back to the OP as best we can and then stray off again, as God's wills.

Let's ask whether God has created the best of possible worlds?

forgive the gross simplicity of this summary, but ...

I think the Single-Will, "High Calvinist" would say Yes. The world that presently is is the result of the volitional exertion of God's perfect, pleasing and singular will, which can only be perfect by definition.

The Double-Will, "moderate Calvinist", would pause. He notices that there are many things in this world that are short of perfect; there are things that God has sincerely desired and commanded, but have not come to fruition. However, everything is working toward our ultimate good and God's ultimate glory; the "frustration" that might seem to result from these unfulfilled desires is eclipsed by God's joy in decreeing all things toward its perfection in him. The advocate of this would then answer the question, "Yes and No." In one sense it is perfect, in another it is not.

If it is held that God's decree, his desire, and his delight are all uniformly and invariably produced in a single act of will, then I am only able to conclude that God not only decrees, but desires and delights in every effect that he has produced, even evil. This is where I originally began to butt heads with Ruben, probably because I did not (and maybe still do not?) understand the complexity of his argument. I don't want to attack a straw man, so Ruben, I await your response. Thanks for the assistance.

blessings,

Dennis.

-----Added 11/30/2009 at 12:09:53 EST-----

Note: when I say "every effect he has produced, even evil" I am NOT saying God is the producer or author of evil, but that his decree makes him (in some sense) the producer of all things in the universe.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I think you should search your spirit to find out why you would ask a question such as this. What type of person on this board whoul think that God would or could do anything less then perfect. I think you should give an example of God doing anything, ever, less then perfect. In all honesty sometimes you worry me.

Ha ha, people who box with pigs in their avatar worry me.






P.s., if I worry you, many, many infra/supra debates also should worry you.



Happy Boxing!
 
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