“for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring’” (Acts 17:28, NKJV).
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and UPHOLDING ALL THINGS BY THE WORD OF HIS POWER, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...” (Heb. 1:1-3, NKJV)
I just recently started going through Molina’s “Concordia,” attempting to interpret Molina’s remarks regarding life and his view of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Recently, I spent time going through two types of “contingency.” In this post, however, I am now going to further Molina’s argument on contingency--- with his view of God as the source of contingency itself, the One on whom everything else depends for life and growth.
“Let this, then, be the first conclusion: since, as was proved in Part I, q. 3, a. 4, disp. 1, NO CREATED THING IS NECESSARY IN RELATION TO THE FIRST CAUSE, but rather ALL WERE PRODUCED BY HIM IN SUCH A WAY THAT THEY WERE ABLE NOT TO EXIST, it follows that GOD’S FREE WILL IS THE SOLE SOURCE OF ALL THE CONTINGENCY DISCERNED (i) in the fact that there were things that were first produced by God alone (as, for instance, in the original establishment of this universe with respect to all its parts and embellishments), and also (ii) in the fact that those things whose conservation depends on God alone are conserved and continue in existence” (Luis de Molina, “Concordia,” Disputation 47, Section 4. Translated by Alfred J. Freddoso. Page 88).
Now, the place where Molina proves his first point is a place that we do not have access to. Only Part IV of Molina’s “Concordia” has been translated from Spanish into English. Because of this, we are a little shortsighed on Molina...but we have all here that we need to affirm Molina’s previous conclusions. He says that “no created thing is necessary in relation to the first cause.” The “first cause” here would be the “origin” or “source” of existence as we know it. Our English word “authentic” means to be “original,” or to be the primary source of something. I have often published at my other site, “Men and Women in the Church,” that the disputed Greek word of 1 Timothy 2, about “being in authority over a man” (as most translations interpret it), is incorrect. The Greek word “authentein” actually involves the suffix “ein,” which indicates an infinitive (“to be” something), plus the Greek word “authentikos,” from which our English word “authentic” derives. The verse in 1 Timothy 2 so often mistranslated should read, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to be the origin of man. This makes sense when you read the rest of Paul’s response about Adam being created “before” Eve and Eve being deceived. Paul was correcting doctrinal error in the church regarding biblical genealogy. This is why Paul tells Timothy that the purpose for leaving Timothy in Ephesus was so that he would teach some there not to teach “other doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3) or to pay attention to “myths and endless genealogies” (1:4).
In any case, Molina is talking about the source or origin for all other things. Because creation is not “necessary” in relation to this being (but the Being is necessary in relation to the creation), the creation cannot be “necessary,” but “contingent” or “dependent.” If, as I’ve written in other posts, “contingency” means that something is “dependent” on something else, then the object or source on which the thing depends is a “necessary” being. Molina then states that these objects “were able to not to exist,” meaning that these objects could have never been created. Alfred Freddoso gives us a note at the bottom of page 88:
“Molina is a bit careless here. As is clear from other places in Part IV (see, e.g., Disputation 50, sec. 6), he does not mean to suggest that God freely decides which things are ABLE to exist and which things are NOT ABLE to exist. Rather, to put it somewhat loosely, of the things that are able to exist, He freely decides which ones will IN FACT exist and which ones will IN FACT not exist” (88).
What Freddoso is saying here is that God doesn’t just choose any random thing, no matter how contradictory, to come into existence. Why? because God is a God of consistency, which means that only things that are logically reasonable are brought into existence. For example, God will not bring a “round square” or a “square circle” into existence because these two items would be contradictory in and of themselves. And, since the created things reflect the Creator who made them (Romans 1:20), God will not make anything contradictory to His nature. He has created things that are different to His nature (like humanity, for example, or trees), but nothing made is contradictory to His nature. With humanity, we see this clearly when “the Word of God became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, NKJV) in the Incarnation. The Lord Jesus, being our “Immanuel,” our “God With Us,” took on flesh and His divine and human natures did not clash or conflict with each other.
Since this point is established, that all created things depend on a necessary thing for their existence, he then gets to the heart of the matter: “it follows that God’s free will should be regarded as the sole source of all the contingency discerned...” God’s freedom, God’s desire to create the things He has made is the source of all contingency in the world. What does the world and everything in it depend on? GOD!
Now, what proof does Molina give for this assertion that everything in existence depends on God? “(i) in the fact that there were things that were first produced by God alone (as, for instance, IN THE ORIGINAL ESTABLISHMENT OF THIS UNIVERSE WITH RESPECT TO ALL ITS PARTS AND EMBELLISHMENTS)...”
This is the first proof Molina offers. The creation of the world and “all its parts and embellishments,” meaning things like the water and the land, the sun, moon, stars, plant and animal life, etc. We know from Genesis 1 that creation was made by the free decision of God. This is why, for instance, when we read “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear” (1:9), and “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (1:26), we understand that God is saying “Let there” or “Let Us” because the decision is up to God, who freely wills these things to be. These words, translated in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), appear as subjunctives, which indicate possibility or potential. For instance, if a person tells you, “I might go to the concert,” we don’t assume that they “will”; instead, we think to ourselves, “he is considering going,” or “there’s a possibility that he will go,” etc. The fact that God creates the world and all of creation attests to the desire of His own will.
The second reason is “in the fact that those things whose conservation depends on God alone are conserved and continue in existence” (88). In other words, every moment of every day that goes by, these “contingent” things remain in existence because of God’s commitment to sustaining them. I quoted Hebrews 1 above because it shows us that everything remains in existence because “of the word of His power.” Because God is faithful to His creation, the creation remains. Atheists appeal to “natural laws” when they discuss the continuing presence of creation; however, as believers, we “amen” the Word when it tells us that God upkeeps everything by His Word. Should God ever decide (for argument’s sake) to refuse to uphold the world any longer, all He has to do is say “fall,” and the world as we know it would fall into the abyss. The world would no longer turn on its axis in such a situation. God does not just “wind” the world up and leave it alone as the Deists believe; no---at every moment, He is interacting with creation by His Word.
I will continue our discussion on Molina and the source of contingency in my next post.