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

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 13 20:58:18 EDT 2008

Jim, I think that we're talking past each other, using words in rather different ways, but I'm not sure that you're reading me carefully enough -- or else I'm not being clear enough.
For instance, I don't think that I've stated that "many common objects are holy," but if I have, then please quote me in context so that I can see what I meant. I would say that common objects can be purified and set apart. They are then considered holy by imitation of the divine -- and they can even become filled with the force of holiness if God so chooses. In a state of holiness, they are no longer called common.
I think that for Leviticus, the "common" refers to the basic substance of the world. This substance can be imbued by the holy or the impure -- though not both simultaneously. It can also be pure. (The system gets a bit more complex than this, but let's ignore the complexity for the moment.)
I don't understand this statement:

What makes the "people" common or holy is not some innate quality, but a purification process by which they are set aside for use by God.
You seem to be using common and holy to mean the same thing, but you must mean something else. As for the following passage, I think that you're attributing some things to me that I haven't stated (though we agree that some things cannot be sanctified):

I agree with you that some objects cannot be made holy in the Levitical system (such as swine), but it is highly problematic to consider these as being ontologically or morally deficient somehow, and even worse to say that they were created by God this way. All common objects, pure or impure, as created are "good." Not all "good" objects are holy. We can say swine are "tainted by impurity" if we understand this to mean ritual impurity, but I don't think we can say they were created by God to be morally impure. I don't think that would be consistent with any theology represented in either the Hebrew scriptures or the New Testament.

Concerning your remarks "problematic to consider" and "even worse to say," I don't think these describe what I've been offering in my posts. The Levitical system does not explain how the world came to be tainted by impurity. The impurity is a given and Leviticus provides the rules for dealing with it.
Impurity, at any rate, is not good. It is a dynamic force opposed to the holy.
One could attempt to argue that impurity is a consequence of the fall, but I don't see that explicit in the Old Testament . . . not do I see it explicit in the New Testament.

Jeffery Hodges
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