Does the Pactum Imply Multiple Wills in God? How Eternal Generation Provides an Answer

Abstract: Does the notion of an eternal covenant between the Father and the Son imply multiple wills in God? The covenant of redemption (also known as the pactum) is the term for the pre-temporal and intra-Trinitarian plan of salvation, specifically inclusive of the Son’s mission as mediator. It entails the voluntary agreement of the Son to the Father’s plan. A common objection to the covenant of redemption as a valid theological construct is that it necessitates multiple divine wills.

This paper will argue that the doctrine of the Son’s eternal generation provides a structure for the covenant of redemption that precludes diverse divine wills. It will examine how Jonathan Edwards developed both doctrines (eternal generation and the covenant of redemption), and it will make use of his concept of “Three pre-temporal decisions” within God. It will argue that when properly conceived, the doctrine of eternal generation allows for the concept of the pactum to flourish, without implying multiple divine wills.

Thesis: The doctrine of eternal generation provides a way to conceive of the pactum salutis without implying multiple wills within the godhead.

Outline:
I. Eternal Generation (literature review, current status)
II. Eternal Generation and the pactum (define the problem)
III. Jonathan Edward’s three pre-temporal decisions
IV. Agreement, generation, and the divine will to save

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