Freedom and concurrence

Concourse and concurrence:  When God and man’s will overlap. The question is how may we best explain man having liberty while being under the control of God’s providence.

Aquinas: second causes are predetermined by God; When the free will moves itself, this does not exclude its being moved by another, from whom it receives the very power to move itself (ST, 1, Q. 83, Art. 1)

  1. God gives second causes the strength and faculty to act
  2. God keeps and sustains them in being and vigor.
  3. He excites and applies second causes to acting
  4. He determines them to acting
  5. he rules them to accomplish the ends.

The Protestant Orthodox is particularly the last of these (Turretin, I: 502).  God does not compel rational creatures to act by a physical necessity, he only effects this–that they act both consistently with themselves and with their own natures (508).  This necessity is one of consequence–it secures the action and result of a cause.   It is necessary according to the eternal premotion of God, but it is spontaneous according to the mode of acting (509).  The premotion does not take away the mode proper to the nature of things.  For example, the harp player is the cause of music, but not of the dissonance plucked from the strings.  Quoting Alvarez, “It does not follow that God is the cause of sin because he determines to the act; because the deformity follows the act, not as in the genus of nature, but as it is in the genus of morals and as it is caused by the free will (510).

Relating the concourse of God and the free will of man

  1. The concourse of providence and the human will is not of collateral and equal causes, but of unequal and subordinate (512).   This follows on anyone’s gloss since God is by definition the First Cause.
  2. God moves secondary causes according to their nature and mode.  Thus, it is necessary according to the source (as coming from the First Cause), but free as to the mode.
  3. Absolute liberty belongs to God; dependent liberty belongs to the creature.

4 comments on “Freedom and concurrence

  1. Caleb Gruner says:

    Off topic: So now that Drake “Olivanus” Shelton denounces Trinitarianism, keeps kosher and stopped calling himself a Christian, would you kindly stop talking about him as if he is a significant theological thinker? You should be held responsible for encouraging someone who is clearly diving into an abyss.

    • I don’t remember “encouraging” him. He made several good responses to certain Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox apologists. Intellectual honesty (not to mention plagiarism rules) requires me to mention him when citing him. Further, wherever he ends up, he made that journey completely independent of anything I have ever said. In terms of reading theological sources on Trinitarianism, Drake read them years before I ever did.

    • olivianus says:

      What abyss is that exactly?

  2. […] causality is Muller’s position. This is also known by the scholastics as the doctrine of concurrence.  People who read and know the Confession know it wasn’t written in a vacuum, like any document […]

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