1.) While reading various responses to Edward Feser’s critique of Colin McGinn, I was bothered by yet another occurence of the idea that to relate to God as Pure Act is to fall short of, or even negate, the possibility of the sort of relationship we have with him by faith.
2.) I figured that the best spin that can be put on the argument is the opposition between the immutability of God and the efficacy of petitionary prayer – or, as it is usually put, an immutable God does not seem to be easy to square with the biblical God who answers prayers, and sometimes is said to change his mind in response to them.
3.) St. Thomas answers (ST II-II q. 83 a. 2. ) by trying to position himself between two extremes: 1.) some things do not fall under the divine plan, therefore 1a.) some things do not come about by necessity; and 2) All things fall under the divine plan, therefore 2a.) all things come about by necessity. St. Thomas, rather ambitiosly, wants to make the line of causality run like this: All things fall under the divine plan, therefore some things do not come about by necessity. Contingency is a result of the absolute determination of the divine plan.
4.) The basis for the opinion is ST I q. 19 a. 8. “whether the will of God imposes necessity on all things”
5.) Cajetan’s commentary takes occasion to frame the question as a fundametal dispute between Thomas as Scotus about the root of contingency. For Thomas, Contingency reduces to the superefficacious power of God, for Scotus it reduces to the contingency of the divine will in its power to choose or not choose.
6.) This remined me of the startling but fascinating arguement of the Neo-Scotist Fernand Guimet, who argues that the existence of evil is rooted in the divine natureas that which God is eternally overcoming in himself.This is just a reminder that, when it wants to, Scholastic theology can say things so controversial as to make modern controversies look inconsequential.
More on Cajetan’s account of the problem later.