The Words of the Guerra Family

On the Nature of God: Incorruptibility, Immutability and Will

Tony Guerra
November 1971
(Washington Center)

The Theology of St. Augustine

In his small but significant book, Augustine and the Greek Philosophers, Professor Callahan investigates the reception by Christian thinkers of the Greek concept of the incorruptibility and immutability of God. The logical form in which St. Augustine presents this theological notion foreshadows St. Anselm's ontological argument. The reasoning is syllogistic. The major premise is that the highest perfections must be predicated of God.

The minor premise asserts that incorruptibility is a highest perfection. Therefore, God is incorruptible. Augustine delineates the significance as well as implications of his notion of Divine Incorruptibility. God Himself is Good itself. That is, Good cannot become corrupt for He would then no longer be God. Thus, man seeks after God in order to participate in the good.

Augustine believes that Divine will and power are commensurate with each other. A problem arises, however, when Augustine tries to relate this notion of God to the existence of evil: "For corruption truly, in no way injures our God."

In Book V, Chapter 1, of On the Trinity, Augustine expounds on his position of the unchangeable or immutable nature of God. He says that God makes things that are changeable, without change of Himself and without passion. How does one reconcile Augustine's concept of God with the Divine Principle which states "The Almighty Creator is a God of Heart, and the essential desire of heart is joy?" An attack on Augustine's formal logic is unproductive because it avoids the central issue-namely, the nature of God. Thus, it is more fruitful to being by explaining the Divine Principle's view of the absolute character of God's will which remains fixed upon achieving the goal of creation despite man's recalcitrance.

Chapter 5, Section 1, of Divine Principle, replete with its biblical quotations, and also Chapter 2, Section 2, provides a common base between mainline Christian thought and Divine Principle.

From this point of agreement on the incorruptibility of God, one can confront the differences between Principles and Augustian thinking on the unchangeable or immutable nature of God. We must direct the Christian's attention toward unraveling the meaning of Jesus' description of God as a Father whose chief quality is love for His Children: "Is there a man among you who will offer his son a stone when he asks for bread or a snake when he asks for fish? If you, then, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:9-11) If God is such a Father, He must feel the suffering of his fallen children and their joy in striving for salvation. Furthermore, if God is spirit or Heart, then the desire for joy is posited and its fulfillment rests upon the response of His object-man. Thus, Divine Principle fulfills the Greek and Christian standard of the "God-befitting" expression.

"God's love has never been fully returned, for He has had no perfect object to whom He could express His love wholly and manifest His power freely. One feels only frustration and sorrow when unable to express love fully or freely. Throughout the thousands of history God has never received true glory from man."

On the Nature of Man: Will, Freedom, Evil

In Book VIII of The Confessions, St. Augustine considers questions concerning man's free will and the origin of evil. Having proved the incorruptibility of the Creator, he is confronted with the following dilemma: "If the Creator is all good, how is it that evil exists in the world?" Augustine acknowledges that simply designating the devil as the cause of evil does not resolve the matter since the question arises: "What was the origin in him of the perverse will by which he became a devil, since by the all-good Creator he was made wholly angel?" Before we can pursue this question of the origin of evil, we must first examine Augustine's notion of human will

Vernon J. Bourke distinguishes the Christian and Greek conceptions of will in that the latter is identified with intellectual preference. The Platonic equation of the "knowing" and "being of goodness" is the most blatant example of the Greek abstract notion of will. Although Augustine takes much from the Greeks in forming his own Christian notion, he extends the classical characterization of human will be ascribing to it a dynamic power which can affect movement in the concrete world. Bourke further categorizes the Augustinian will as "Patristic," the defining of will in terms of freedom. According to Augustine, man has both a higher freedom which he expresses by uniting with God and a lower freedom of will whereby man pursues either good or evil: "God gives both free choice (liberum arbitrium) and freedom from sin (libertas) to man.

In much of his writings Augustine bemoans the division within the human will. He introduced the theory of two wills, neither of which is complete since one lacks the other. Accordingly, man has lost the power to will wholly and as a result he is unable wholly to do the good. In Augustinian terms, man's libertas has been restricted because of the original sin. He says in On Free Choice of the Will: "There are acts done by necessity that are to be blamed where man willed to act rightly and could not. For whence are these words, "For I do not the good which I will to do and I do the evil which I hate?" Thus, St. Augustine and Divine Principle are wholly in agreement on the limitation of man's freedom consequent upon the fall of man.

In dealing with the question of the origin of evil, many people return to St. Augustine, (and in particular his work, On Free Choice of the Will), to prove that the "Cause of the Fall" was man's free will. If one examines the purpose of the work, however, he will find that Augustine has avowedly apologetic rationale. Augustine says of his own work: "The discussion was undertaken with an eye to those who deny that free choice of the will is the cause of evil, and who consequently hold that God, since He is Creator of everything, is to be blamed." Thus, St. Augustine's rather emphatic and apodictic statement of free will as the cause of evil is compelled by a noble desire to exonerate the Divine Creator from the impious accusation.

This is no reason, however, to refrain from acknowledging the inadequacy of such a notion of causation. One could expose the inadequacy of the Christian "cause" of the Fall on purely rational grounds. The reasoning would proceed as follows: A cause must exist prior to the happening which it engenders (i.e. its effect). Free will is a faculty which gives man the power to choose from already existing possibilities. That is, if you are "free" to choose any dish on the menu, this presumes that the dish exists on the menu. Thus, evil would already have had to exist if one asserts that free will is the cause of the fall which is an apparent self-contradiction. But, both Augustine and the Divine Principle do concur that mankind's first parents made a free choice which resulted in the Fall and the consequent restriction of freedom. Divine Principle, however, further reveals what this choice was!

Throughout much of his writings Augustine sustains a diatribe against the Manecheans. Mani believed in the existence of two principles, one good and the other evil, from the beginning. Thus history of man beings within the context of this dualism of good and evil for the Manecheans. Man was created by God to stop the encroachment of the Kingdom of Evil upon the Kingdom of Good. History will culminate in the Elect triumphing in glory and the others are to be condemned to eternal perdition. Although Christianity has consistently renounced Manicheanism from its inception, many Christens are influenced in an insidious and perhaps unconscious way by this theory.

Catholics, for instance, do not believe in the complete return of the creation to the Divine Creator. In substantiation of this eschatological dualism they hearken to such scriptural passages as "the poor shall always be with you," etc. The implications and perspective of Manicheanism still pervade modern thinking in more blatant manners. The common expression "that's human nature" to excuse evil is a contemporary distillate of this philosophy. It is of particular concern to the Divine Principle movement that this debilitating notion be challenged at this time.

Let us continue our analysis by adopting St. Augustine's definition of evil as simply the deprivation of Good (i.e. separation from God). Divine Principle's definition of evil is compatible with Augustine's. Evil derives from the dis-direction of the energy (i.e. love) which was derived from and should have been returned to God. When Lucifer left his proper position as servant to God and man and Adam and Eve chose to fall, then Lucifer became the father and ruler of mankind. Thus usurped the position of God and prevents man from perceiving God. As a result, man is unable to recognize God's direction and to fulfill his purpose as ideal man.

Thus a base of four positions was formed with Satan rather than God at its center. In other words, "give and take" created a receptive base for Satan rather than God. Accordingly, the end of evil can only be accomplished through the redirection rather than the destruction of the world. In His infinite wisdom, God created a Principle which provides for the return to God and thus the abolition of evil. The manifestation of this Principle of indemnity and restitution is demonstrated through the History of Restoration as revealed in the Divine Principle. 

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