[Milton-L] potestas ordinata, potestas absoluta, reason, and arbitratry commands

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Sat Jul 12 22:25:41 EDT 2008

Note the distinction is between "the holy and the common," not, "the
holy and the evil."  The point is that the people of God are set apart
by and for God -- bride metaphors are a propos here -- so distinguish
themselves through purification practices.  Whatever utilitarian
benefit these had is, I agree, besides the point.  Many of the
ceremonial and civil laws do seem arbitrary (though not all).

But once you associate an object with evil -- such as the forbidden
fruit -- the command forbidding it is no longer arbitrary:  the point
of all commandments is to avoid evil, both in the sense of
"undesirable consequence" and "moral evil."  I think we should
carefully and consistently separate these two definitions for evil,
though, even though our language tends to conflate them.  The Hebrew
God is not associated with any moral evil: the Hebrew religion is not
a dualist or gnostic religion, but is what is being attacked by later
gnostic religions.  That is the point of having only one God: the one
God alone must be the sole source of all that is created and the only

Jim R

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