Whether The Five Signs Of Will Are Rightly Said Of The Divine Will

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. We have now expanded and can be found at theologyweb.com. I encourage all readers to come to the Deeper Waters section. Many comments that require long answers I will be glad to give such answers to there so we can have a better back and forth exchange. For now, we’re going to continue our look at the doctrine of God in Christian thought and our guide will be the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, which can be read for free at newadvent.org. Tonight, we’re going to conclude our look at the will of God by asking if the five signs of will are rightly said of the divine will.

First off, what are we talking about? These are the ways by which the moral will of God can be known. Prohibition is the forbidding of an action. Permission is God allowing an action that goes against his moral will. Counsel is persuasion to do a good action. Precept is when God insists upon an act as necessary. Operation is when he acts himself.

Are these rightly said? Yes they are. Aquinas wants us to keep in mind that God can at one time allow us to do something and then another time prohibit it. This depends on the event itself and the persons doing the event. An example would be that if you work at a company, you can be admitted to enter into staff only areas. When you leave that position, you cannot enter those areas. The company gives you the permission at one time and at the other time, they prohibit you.

He also wants us to realize that there are some signs of will that can only apply to rational creatures, namely us and angels. These are precept, counsel, and prohibition. It makes no sense for God to literally make a precept for how an animal ought to act and a prohibition for how it ought not to act. However, for us, he can give counsel to encourage us to do as we ought, prohibitions so we will know what we ought not to do, and precepts so we will know what it is we ought to do.

Also there is a distinction in how we come to the good. Prohibition is the area namely concerned with the denunciation entirely of an evil act. God does permit some things but these are things he will allow us to do for a greater good. There are sadly some situations that are less than ideal but these are allowed for the time being. Precepts are given so we may know the good that we ought to do and counsel in order for us to come to embrace that goodness all the more.

In conclusion, when I read this list I am struck once again with how much the goal is about attaining divine goodness. In our modern world, we are more often concerned with how things are good for us. We don’t really ask often if things are good. We are busy finding the will for our lives rather than finding out what the will of God is. Perhaps we should look less at us and instead look more at God for our continuous sanctification.

Tomorrow, we shall begin discussing the love of God.

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