The Two Affections of the Will as Elements of the Imago Dei

Since the time of Anselm, theistic scholarship generally subscribes to the notion that there are two basic components of the human will – the desire for justice and the desire for happiness. Although theistic thinkers have contemplated the implications of this two-affection view for centuries, what has not garnered as much attention is why God created humans with these two affections in the first place. This current study addresses this intriguing question in view of the possibility that God created humanity with these two affections to reflect key elements of the imago Dei. Since the Scriptures clearly declare humanity to be created in God’s image, this presentation will explore the idea that the affections for advantage and for justice are, in fact, elements within humans that reflect the nature of God. The paper will first offer a brief review of the development of the two affections theory in philosophical thought, beginning with Aristotle’s single-motivation view and moving on to the double-affection view proposed by Anselm, Scotus, and Kant. Following this brief historical survey, the essay will build the case that the two affections of justice and happiness can be found perfectly balanced within the very nature of God. Then, it will demonstrate that since these two affections are evident in the nature of God, they are likewise manifest in the nature of humankind as the image-bearers of God. Whereas God’s affection for happiness relates to humanity’s affection for justice, God’s affection for justice is a benefit to humanity’s affection for happiness. Thereby, these affections demonstrate the harmonious relationship between the perfect nature of an infinite God and his divinely designed likeness in finite humanity.

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