(TF), (Dan), (TF), (Dan), (TF), (Dan), (TF), and (Dan).
I had written recently:
Given that we are Trinitarians, there is no reason to hold to a view that God has ever been inactive, such that there was a "first act" of God. (link)
Previously I had written:
Although there was no action before Creation, nevertheless God's nature and counsel, being eternal, preceded the first action. (link)
This apparently (and understandably) confused Dan. Dan wrote:
Before you seemed to be denying action regressed infinitely, and affirming a first act. Now you seem to be asserting an infinite regression of actions, and denying a first act. This is an important point to clarify as your comments above shaped my question. How do you reconcile these two statements?I answer:
Creation is the first action of which there is any record: it is the first action in time, as opposed to eternity. It can be viewed as a first action, and yet the Trinitarian council can reasonably be viewed as eternally active - in other words there is no reason to suppose that the Trinity was eternally inactive - that there was no eternal divine communion of the persons of God. There was no physical activity, and no activity that involved any sort of change. I hope that is enough reconciliation, but if not ... I'd be happy to elaborate where anything is unclear.
The idea that God’s nature causes His action (an idea that I previously understood you to assert) seems inconsistent with the idea of an infinite regression of actions. This seems circular. Since we are talking about a logical order (I assume that’s what you mean) an infinite regression seems like a denial of a logical foundation. For my part, since God is one and simple, His nature logically precedes His actions. The persons in the Trinity and their actions are logically subsequent to God’s essence. The opposite opinion seems in opposition to God’s aseity and simplicity.Any action before the creation of time, i.e. in eternity past, would not have been temporally sequentially. Whether or not there was a "first action," however, God's nature is logically prior to his actions, on that much we have agreement. Thus, presumably this issue of a first action verses continual eternal action is a non-issue.
This answer effects how I should respond to what you said about a cause of the first act and foreknowledge.Hopefully the above sufficiently clarifies.
Dan continues: "Perhaps I can clarify one point. You said: The "had to" vs. "did" is falsely dichotomous at least in connotation. We would not say that God "had to," because that would seem to suggest something external to God forcing God to do the thing."
Within the context of “before God’s first act” no one else exists to force God’s actions. “Had to” in the context of before God’s first act is a question of God’s intrinsic abilities. Either God was unable to do anything else (i.e. He had to what He did), or He was able to do other things. But again, this point may be moot, if God doesn’t have a first act.Before Creation no one else exists to force God's actions, whether or not Creation is the "first act" or God has been eternally active. So, no ... I don't think the "first act" issue renders anything moot.
Again, as noted above, if there is no one else to force God's action, using "had to" is at least a little misleading - even if God's nature could be said to render him unable to do something else.
Sure is hard for Calvinists and Arminians to find some common ground to hold a discussion on, so I appreciate your effort. If you wish, we can go back to proof texting out of context at each other. I’ll start. Christ says “ye do error, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God”. With statements this obvious, how then to you stick to Calvinism?I suppose that this was intended to be humorous. I can't think of a witty comeback, though, so I'll have to leave it at that. Eventually I hope that you'll be sufficiently satisfied with the answers to the questions that you get to get back to some of those more interesting issues we were discussing before.