Can Any Cause Be Assigned To The Divine Will?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the Ocean of Truth. We’re going through the doctrine of God in Christian Theology and our guide for this has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. You can read this online at We’re studying the topic of the will of God right now and we’re asking if any cause can be assigned to the divine will. Let’s go to the question.

This is along the lines of the question of “If God created everything who created God?” If the will of God is the cause of all things, what caused the will of God? However, this can continue to an infinite regress. If there is a cause of that, we can ask what caused that. Can we rest in the conclusion that nothing causes the will of God?

Suppose you want to do something. For instance, I just mailed a letter out at a local mailbox. It’s a distance away, but not too far away, so I chose to walk. My end of course was getting the letter in the mail and I figured a walk would grant me some more reading time. However, I could have just as easily got in my car and drove over to the mailbox or I could have even just left it for the mail carrier to pick up here in the morning.

However, once I will the ends, I also will the means I want to go through to get to that end, but those are two different activities. I had the end in mind already that I wanted, but there were a number of ways that I could use in order to get to that end and willing the means was something separate.

It is the same with knowing a conclusion based on a principle. In seeing the conclusion, one can look at the principles then and understand how one got to that conclusion. Think back to being in a math class and being given a problem and seeing the answer and wondering how that answer was reached. Then, your teacher, if they were a good one, went through a process and showed you. You knew the conclusion, but in a separate act, you knew the way by which that conclusion was reached.

It is the same with the will of God. God wills all things by his goodness. However, once he has the end in mind, he does not will a means because of that end but in order to get to that end. It is by willing the means that he wills the end desired by that mean.

For my scientifically minded friends, Aquinas has some words for you also. By all means, seek out means by which processes come about. However, those are not primary causes. You can by all means consider why it is the arrow flies at the target, but do not neglect that there is an archer pulling the bow launching the arrow at that target. There is no need for Christians to fear secondary causes. These are instrumental causes God is using to bring about his goal.

We shall continue tomorrow.

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