May 14, 2013

Richard Muller on the Amor Dei

amor Dei: the love of God; i.s., both the love of creatures for God and the divine attribute of love. Considered in the former sense, amor Dei is twofold, either immediatus or mediatus, immediate or mediate. The amor Dei immediatus is that love according to which God is love in and for himself and is the sole object of the love; whereas the amor Dei mediatus is that love according to which God is loved in and through the proximate objects of the created order insofar as they ultimately refer to God himself. The distinction between immediate and mediate love thus draws directly on the Augustinian distinction between enjoyment (frui, q.v.) and use (uti).

Considered as a divine attribute, the amor Dei can be defined as the propensity of the divine essence or nature for the good, both in the sense of God's inward, intrinsic, benevolentia, or willing of the good, and in the sense of God's external, extrinsic, beneficentia, or kindness, toward his creatures. The amor Dei, then, is directed inwardly and intrinsically toward God himself as the summum bonum, or highest good, and, among the persons of the Trinity, toward one another. Externally, or extrinsically, the amor Dei is directed toward all things, but according to a threefold distinction. The amor Dei universalis encompasses all things and is manifest in the creation itself, in the conservation and governance of the world; the amor Dei communis is directed toward all human beings, both elect and reprobate, and is manifest in all blessings, or benefits (beneficia) of God; and the amor Dei proprius, or specialis, is directed toward the elect or believers only and is manifest in the gift of salvation. The amor Dei universalis is frequently called by the scholastics complacentia, or general good-pleasure; the amor Dei communis is understood to be benevolentia in the strict sense of goodwill toward human beings; and amor Dei specialis, is termed amicitia, i.e. friendship or sympathy toward believers. In the discussion of the divine attributes, the amor Dei is considered both as the ultimate essential characteristic of God determinative of the other attributes and as one of the affections of the divine will. In the former sense, resting on the scriptural predication, "God is love" (1 John 4:8), the scholastics can subsume the grace (gratia), mercy (misericordia), long-suffering (long-animitas), patience (patientia), and clemency or mildness (clementia) of God under the amor Dei. In the latter sense, the amor Dei together with these related attributes is viewed as an aspect of the divine willing and is juxtaposed with the wrath (ira) and hate (odium) of God against sin.
Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 31–32.

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