In answer to the question regarding the doctrine of the one divine will,

When was this doctrine first expounded, and what arguments, whether Biblical or otherwise, were given to support…[the doctrine of the one divine will]?

I answered:

Proof of the Uniqueness of the Divine Will


1 Thess. 4:3 defines the divine will:

This is the will (θέλημα) of God: your sanctification (ἁγιασμὸς).

"ἁγιασμὸς" is related to the Greek word for "holy". There is only one Holy One, only one sanctification.

Also, Luke 22:42 shows the distinction between Christ's human will and the will of the Father (which is the divine will):

Father, if thou wilt, transfer this chalice from me. But yet not my will, but thine be done.


There is only one divine will because God is supremely simple.

God is His intelligence (intelligere), as St. Thomas Aquinas succinctly explains in his Compendium Theologiæ cap. 31:

God must be His own intelligence. Since “to understand” is second act, for example, to consider, whereas the corresponding first act is the intellect or knowledge, any intellect that is not its own understanding is related to its understanding as potency to act. For in the order of potencies and acts, what is first is always potential with respect to what follows, and what is last is perfective. This is true only with reference to one and the same being, for among different beings the converse obtains; thus a mover and an agent are related to the thing moved and actuated as act to potency. In God, however, who is pure act, there is nothing that is related to anything else as potency to act. Accordingly God must be His own intelligence.

Furthermore, the intellect is related to its act of understanding as essence is related to existence. But God understands through His essence, and His essence is His existence. Therefore His intellect is His act of understanding. And thus no composition is attributed to Him by the fact that He understands, since in Him intellect and understanding and intelligible species are not distinct; and these in turn are nothing else than His essence.

And God's will is identical to His intellect (Compendium Theologiæ cap. 33):

Evidently God’s will cannot be anything other than His intellect. For, since a good that is apprehended by the intellect is the object of the will, it moves the will and is the will’s act and perfection. In God, however, there is no distinction between mover and moved, act and potency, perfection and perfectible, as is clear from the truths we have already gained. Also, the divine intellect and the divine essence are identical. Therefore the will of God is not distinct from the divine intellect and God’s essence.

Another consideration: among the various perfections of things, the chief are intellect and will. A sign of this is that they are found in the nobler beings. But the perfections of all things are one in God, and this is His essence, as we showed above.” In God, therefore, intellect and will are identical with His essence.

Therefore, God is the divine will.

Since there is only one God, there can only be one divine will.

The asker down-voted and offered a constructive comment. Then a moderator deleted my answer, saying:

This doesn't answer the question that was asked at all. The question is one of history, not of proving a theological point.


the reason this post was deleted and the other one was not is that the other post addresses the historical issue of when and how the doctrine was introduced. Your answer does not, it only presents an apologetic for the doctrine which wasn't what the question was about. If you want further feedback or community review of this moderator action please ask about it on Christianity Meta.

How can one distinguish the difference between "present[ing] an apologetic for the doctrine" and "address[ing] the historical issue"? It seems all I have presented is the history of what theologians (St. Paul, St. Luke, and St. Thomas Aquinas) thought; I'm not doing original research.

3 Answers 3


I think fredsbend's answer sums up pretty well why I believed your answer to be Not An Answer. Additionally curiousdannii's answer covers how you could re-factor it to be a valid answer. To round out this feedback I hope you might benefit from a review of the timeline of events and some of the other miss-steps along the way.

I'm going to speculate a little bit about what you thought about the post, so if I get that part wrong please set the record straight, but also try to see it through the eyes of the events on the post rather than your own perspective because that's what's causing action on our part.

  1. The OP asked a question with the title pattern "When and how did doctrine X originate?".

  2. You asked for clarification about the question and also VTC'ed it as unclear. This is fair enough, but the OP did not directly respond to your particular request, so given that you thought it was unclear and the OP had not clarified yet I'm not sure why you went on to answer.

  3. You answered with a post that did not address the "when and how" at all but only presented an apologetic for why the doctrine was true. Again the reasons why this was a miss-match for a history question are explained pretty well in fredsbend's post.

  4. You then edited the question title to a pattern "Is doctrine X or Y true?" This made it fundamentally a different question and even if that question was what the OP wanted, it would have been off topic on this site as a truth question. This might have made the question fit your answer better, but it wouldn't have been allowed on the site even if it had been asked that way.

  5. You commented on another answer which I think did address the history question (even though I think they got the answer wrong in the sense that they conflated two different doctrines in their history trace). However mixed up on the doctrine they might be they at least made a claim in their answer about "when and how" as per the question. Your comment ended with:

    The asker is inquiring about whether there is more than one divine will or not.

    Again this seems to be your commentary on what the question should have been but that isn't what the asker actually asked. The other answerer responded to your comment with:

    Sorry @Geremia, the question looked much different when I began answering it. It simply wanted to know when and how this doctrine came about, and what biblical arguments were used to support it. I think I answered that question correctly.

    This seems like quite a fair criticism. The other answerer had answered the question as it was originally asked, and your statement of "the asker is inquiring about" only matched the edit you had made to the question.

  6. The question was rolled back to it's original form. The OP later added some minor clarifications and refinements, but left it fundamentally as the history question that they had original asked.

I understand you sincerely envisioned the question as something else and dug into a defense of the doctrine mentioned, but that isn't how this site works (we don't use it as a platform to argue the truth of one doctrine over another). On the other hand the question that was asked and as originally worded was fine: documenting how a doctrine came to be articulated in Christian history and documenting what arguments were forwarded for it historically is perfectly on topic.

Please keep in mind that even in the event a question strays away from the site guidelines we need to keep our answers constrained. If questions need fixing to fit the guidelines that's fair game, but moving them away from what we've mapped out as a constructive scope (either by editing or by answering) is not a good idea. I ask that you be careful and keep those issue in mind when reviewing questions you might potentially answer. I know writing good answers takes time and I don't want to see your efforts wasted by posting things than won't "stick".

  • Did you knock back my NAA flag on anonymouswho's answer? I really can't see a true answer in it, because the whole thing is about Christology/the hypostatic union.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 3:17
  • @curiousdannii Yes as a matter of fact I did. I'm open to reconsidering that handling, but I don't see the case for it yet. The answer is wrong — objectively wrong even — but it has the right form and seems to be a valid attempt to answer. It's just not useful (and has my downvote) because the author conflated two doctrines and hence cross-wired the substance of the conclusion. (Hence the flag reject with the stock "flags should not be used to indicate entirely wrong answers" reason). It may be a false and misleading answer, but it is technically an answer as far as form goes.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 7:45
  • 2
    The issues with that answer are quite different than the one that inspired this meta post. I deleted Geremia's answer not because of any factual inaccuracy or poor handling of doctrinal connections, but because the form was fundamentally against site guidelines and outside the scope of the question.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 7:46
  • Okay fair enough.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 8:26

Given the question title:

When and how was the doctrine of the one divine will established?

and the bit you quoted:

When was this doctrine first expounded, and what arguments, whether Biblical or otherwise, were given to support…[the doctrine of the one divine will]?

I do not think you answered the question.

In your answer I see:

  • Proof of the Uniqueness of the Divine Will

    which quotes scripture and makes a case for the doctrine. This is distinctly not what the question is looking for.

  • There is only one divine will because God is supremely simple.

    which is, again, about proving the doctrine, not discussing its history.

  • St. Thomas Aquinas succinctly explains

    which is a section in which you appeal to Aquinas for the sake of proving the doctrine, and make no mention that Aquinas was first to do this.

  • Therefore, God is the divine will.

    Since there is only one God, there can only be one divine will.

    Your conclusion gives you away. There is clearly a disregard for the actual question, the origination of this doctrine, and instead an effort to prove it.

I agree with the deletion. You did not answer the question.

Historical theology questions look like this:

Answering in support or rejection of any of these theologies is distinctly not what the questions are asking. They are asking about how these theologies have developed over time or from where they have originated.

To be fair, maybe it's too much that the asker also asks how they supported the doctrine, but that is different than a question about general support for a doctrine. In this case, you should first answer who was the first to say these things, then expand on how they supported the statements.

  • 3
    Thanks for taking the time to analyze and write this up. For the record it's almost tit for tat how I read the post and the logic behind my validating the NAA flag. It would have been a good answer to a different question, but from premise to conclusion it was addressing the doctrine itself not the the doctrine through Christian history.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 6:40

I was actually about to reverse my downvote but then I saw it was deleted.

In these who-was-first questions it often takes some time to track down who was the first. We usually end up with several answers, each one going back a little further in time.

So I think it would be good to have Aquinas included as a baseline. If you simplified your answer a little to say "Aquinas (1225-1274) taught this ..." followed by a short quote showing he taught it, and then a summary of his arguments, I think it would be good to undelete it.

  • 5
    This sounds like the right way to turn the NAA situation into AA.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 6:36

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