CT 97: Immutability of God in His Activity

God, so we’re told, is eternal and unchanging, simple, and completely immobile. And yet, we’re told, God acts in time. He parted the Red Sea at one time, and became incarnate at another. How can He do that without changing? Thomas is on the case:

The fact that God produces things by His will clearly shows that He can produce new things without any change in Himself. The difference between a natural agent and a voluntary agent is this: a natural agent acts consistently in the same manner as long as it is in the same condition. Such as it is, thus does it act. But a voluntary agent acts as he wills. Accordingly it may well be that, without any change in himself, he wishes to act now and not previously. For there is nothing to prevent a person from willing to perform an action later, even though he is not doing it now; and this without any change in himself. Thus it can happen, without any change in God, that God, although He is eternal, did not bring things into existence from eternity.

This is very true. I’ve had the intention all day to go out to dinner with a buddy this evening. It doesn’t require any changing of my mind to go do that. Actually going will require a change in my position and my posture, but not any change in my will.

Where God differs from me in this regard is first, that He makes things happen just by willing, and second, He has perfect knowledge. He can know, from all eternity, what He will will at any given point in time.

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