Divine Will & Contemplation

by Caleb Roberts

In the Dublin Fragments Hooker shows his anxiety over a doctrine of absolute divine decrees divorced from a theology of the ‘natural’ will of God ‘to exercise his goodnes of his owne nature, by producing effects wherein the riches of the glorie thereof may appeare’ (section 27); and the sermons more than once reflect the pastoral implications of a debate over the primacy of absolute divine will.  But the point could be broadened: groundless divine decrees may be obeyed or implemented, but they do not lead towards a ‘hinterland’ of divine nature to be contemplated or enjoyed.  Groundless divine will does not propose to us anything of the elusive richness of God’s life as such, to be regarded with eagerness or expectation of further fulfillment: the only ‘mystery’ is the sheerly negative awareness of the void from which divine enactment freely comes.  And because it is necessarily a void, it is not an object of contemplation. (42-43)

Rowan Williams | Anglican Identities