Summary Against Modern Thought: Both God And You Can Move Your Will

Summary Against Modern Thought: Both God And You Can Move Your Will

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God is still in charge.


1 Some people, as a matter of fact, not understanding how God could cause a movement of the will in us without prejudice to freedom of will, have tried to explain these texts in a wrong way. That is, they would say that God causes willing and accomplishing within us in the sense that He causes in us the power of willing, but not in such a way that He makes us will this or that. Thus does Origen, in his Principles, explain free choice, defending it against the texts above.

2 So, it seems that there developed from this view the opinion of certain people who said that providence does not apply to things subject to free choice, that is, to acts of choice, but, instead, that providence is applied to external events. For he who chooses to attain or accomplish something, such as to make a building or to become rich, is not always able to reach this end; thus, the results of our actions are not subject to free choice, but are controlled by providence.

3 To these people, of course, opposition is offered quite plainly by the texts from Sacred Scripture. For it is stated in Isaiah (26:2): “O Lord, you have wrought all our works in us.” So, we receive not only the power of willing from God, but also the operation.

4 Again, this statement of Solomon, “wherever He wishes, He turns it” shows that divine causality is not only extended to the power of the will but also to its act.

5 Besides, God not only gives powers to things but, beyond that, no thing can act by its own power unless it acts through His power, as we showed above. So, man cannot use the power of will that has been given him except in so far as he acts through the power of God. Now, the being through whose power the agent acts is the cause not only of the power, but also of the act. This is apparent in the case of an artist through whose power an instrument works, even though it does not get its own form from this artist, but is merely applied to action by this man. Therefore, God is for us the cause not only of our will, but also of our act of willing.

6 Moreover, a more perfect order is found in spiritual things than in corporeal ones. Among bodies, however, every motion is caused by the first motion. Therefore, among spiritual things, also, every movement of the will must be caused by the first will, which is the will of God.

7 Furthermore, we showed somewhat earlier that God is the cause of every action and that He operates in every agent. Therefore, He is the cause of the movements of the will.

8 Besides, an argument that is pertinent is offered by Aristotle, in Book VIII of the Eudemian Ethics, as follows. There must be a cause for the fact that a person understands, deliberates, chooses, and wills, for every new event must have some cause. But, if its cause is another act of deliberation, and another act of will preceding it, then, since one cannot go on to infinity in these acts, one must reach something that is first. Now, a first of this type must be something that is better than reason. But nothing is better than intellect and reason except God. Therefore, God is the first principle of our acts of counsel and of will.

Notes He saved the best for last! Note the similarity to one of the proofs of God’s existence.


  1. Henry Higgins

    Council of Orange 529 AD quotes Scripture to this effect:
    “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and “For God is at
    work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

    Julian of Norwich too has this same thought but in relation to prayer:
    Fourteenth Revelation, the Lord told Julian very clearly:
    I am the ground of thy beseeching [in prayer]. First it is my will that thou have it, and next I make thee to will it, and next I make thee to beseech it—and thou beseechest it!

    In this astounding moment, the Lord completely inverts the idea that prayer is initiated in any way by Julian (or any one of us) with the Revelation that it is entirely his own idea! Jesus identifies himself as the instigator and basis of all prayer. First, in his great goodness, Christ wills to give Julian (or any one of us) some special grace. Then he makes her conscious of the desire for it, deep within her heart. Next, he inspires her and gives her the desire to enter into prayer in order to beseech it. And then, she actually does beseech it in her prayer.

  2. C-Marie

    Am sending this one to someone very special who is not sure about God, but at the same time, loves Plato and Socrates and Aristotle. Hmmmm!
    Prayer is talking with or to God, asking, beseeching, or just loving Him or just basking in His love, letting Him love us, so yes, He does place this desire in us to be wholly His and to seek Him with all of our heart. The free will part is that we can choose to do as He desires, or to not do so.
    Thank you!! God bless, C-Marie

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