About this topic
Summary Omnipotence is the property of being  all-powerful, and is one of the traditional divine attributes. Philosophical discussion has centered on the project of giving an analysis of omnipotence which is both self-consistent and consistent with the other traditional divine attributes, such as necessary moral perfection. The most discussed objection to omnipotence is the Stone Paradox, also known as the Paradox of Omnipotence: could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy the being couldn't lift it?
Key works The contemporary debate on the coherence of omnipotence was launched by the brief discussion in Mackie 1955. For a more detailed rendition of the Stone Paradox, see Cowan 1965. Further difficulties for definitions of omnipotence are raised by La Croix 1977. Leading theories of omnipotence include Hoffman and Rosenkrantz 1980, Flint and Freddoso 1983, Wierenga 1983 and Wielenberg 2000.
Introductions Handbook and encyclopedia articles include Hoffman and Rosenkrantz 1997, 2008, Leftow 2009, and Pearce 2011.
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  1. added 2020-05-19
    Book Review: Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence. [REVIEW]John Van Seters - 1990 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 44 (2):196-198.
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  2. added 2020-05-19
    The God of Death.George W. Coats - 1975 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 29 (3):227-239.
    To have dominion over the world is heady power, and the temptation to extend that world power into divine power can be unbearable. What happens then?
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  3. added 2020-05-11
    God of the Gaps: A Neglected Reply to God’s Stone Problem.Jc Beall & A. J. Cotnoir - 2017 - Analysis 77 (4):681-689.
    Traditional monotheism has long faced logical puzzles. We argue that such puzzles rest on the assumed logical truth of the Law of Excluded Middle, which we suggest there is little theological reason to accept. By way of illustration we focus on God's alleged stone problem, and present a simple but plausible ‘gappy’ framework for addressing this puzzle. We assume familiarity with the proposed logic but an appendix is offered as a brief review.
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  4. added 2020-05-02
    Is Berkeley's God Ominpotent?Daniel E. Flage - 2017 - Review of Metaphysics 71 (4).
    In both the Principles of Human Knowledge and the Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, George Berkeley provides a description of God’s attributes immediately after his arguments for God’s existence. Neither description deems God omnipotent, yet shortly after each he freely uses “omnipotent” and its synonyms to describe God. Why is this? The author argues that his reluctance to ascribe omnipotence is God is the reluctance of a careful philosopher, his willingness is that of a religionist, and his account of (...)
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  5. added 2020-03-25
    Moral Responsibility in a Maximally Great Being.Stephen Kershnar - 2004 - Philo 7 (1):97-113.
    If God is essentially all-good, then he is not morally responsible. If God is maximally great, then he is essentially both omnipotent and omniscient and these latter properties ensure that he is essentially all-good. From essential all-goodness, it follows that he does not have the power to choose evil. This in turn results in his lacking the power to do evil and thus his not being responsible for avoiding it. This conclusion is not defeated by objections that differ based on (...)
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  6. added 2019-10-22
    Annihilation, Re-Creation, and Intermittent Existence in Aquinas.Turner C. Nevitt - 2016 - In Stephen Ogden, Gyula Klima & Alex Hall (eds.), The Metaphysics of Personal Identity: Proceedings of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics Volume 13. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 101–117.
    Aquinas often defends the possibility of the resurrection of the dead by appealing to the survival of the human soul between death and resurrection. Contemporary interpreters suppose that Aquinas does so because he thinks the continued existence of the human soul is metaphysically necessary for the identity of human beings over time. If the human soul perished at death along with the human body, then not even God could bring the same human being back to life—so Aquinas is supposed to (...)
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  7. added 2019-09-04
    Theodicy, Supreme Providence, and Semiclassical Theism.James Goetz - forthcoming - Theology and Science.
    Logical limits of omnipotence, the problem of evil, and a compelling cosmological argument suggest the position of supreme providence and the foremost creation out of nothing that coheres with the constraints of physics. The Supreme Being possesses everlasting love, perception, and force while governing the universe of probabilistic processes and freewill creatures. For example, the Supreme Being intervenes in the processes of creation by the means of synergism with freewill creatures and cannot meticulously control the created universe.
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  8. added 2019-06-06
    Goodness Needs No Privilege: A Reply to Funkhouser.Thomas D. Senor - 2006 - Faith and Philosophy 23 (4):423-431.
    According to Eric Funkhouser, omnipotence and necessary moral perfection (what Funkhouser calls "impeccability") are not compatible. Funkhouser gives two arguments for this claim. In this paper, I argue that neither of Funkhouser's arguments is sound. The traditional theist can reasonably claim that, contra Funkhouser, (i) there is no possible being who possesses all of God's attributes sans impeccability, and (ii) the fact that there are things that God cannot do does not entail that God lacks omnipotence. Armed with (i) and (...)
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  9. added 2019-06-06
    Omnipotence and the Power to Choose: A Reply to Wielenberg.Wes Morriston - 2002 - Faith and Philosophy 19 (3):358-367.
  10. added 2019-06-06
    The Problem of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom.William L. Rowe - 1999 - Faith and Philosophy 16 (1):98-101.
    According to the Westminster Confession, “God from all eternity did... freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass. Yet... thereby neither is God the author of sin or is violence offered to the will of the creatures.” It is hard to see how these two points can be consistently maintained. Hugh McCann, however, argues that by placing God’s decisions outside of time, both propositions are perfectly consistent. I agree with McCann that God’s determining decisions do not make him the author (...)
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  11. added 2019-06-06
    Capacity and Volition: A History of the Distinction of Absolute and Ordained Power.William J. Courtenay.Francis Oakley - 1993 - Speculum 68 (3):739-742.
  12. added 2019-06-06
    Omnipotence, omnisciencia y libertad.Eugenio Bulygin - 1978 - Critica 10 (28):33-55.
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    Lettre Sur la Toute-Puissance Divine. Pierre Damien, André Cantin.Giles Constable - 1974 - Speculum 49 (4):718-719.
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    Omnipotence, Omniscience and Necessity.Richard R. La Croix & Alonso Church - 1973 - Analysis 34 (2):63.
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  15. added 2019-04-29
    God’s Power and Almightiness in Whitehead’s Thought.Palmyre M. F. Oomen - 2018 - Process Studies 47 (1):83-110.
    Whitehead’s position regarding God’s power is rather unique in the philosophical and theological landscape. Whitehead rejects divine omnipotence, yet he claims that God’s persuasive power is required for everything to exist and occur. This intriguing position is the subject of this article. The article starts with an exploration of Aquinas’s reasoning toward God’s omnipotence. This will be followed by a close examination of Whitehead’s own position, starting with an introduction to his philosophy of organism and its two-sided concept of God. (...)
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  16. added 2018-12-05
    Reflections on Human and Divine Authority: History, Christology, Omnipotence.Andrew Hay - forthcoming - Heythrop Journal.
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  17. added 2018-12-05
    Potentia Dei y su concurso en el mundo natural según Juan Duns Escoto.Enrique Santiago Mayocchi - 2018 - Dianoia 63 (80):3-27.
    Resumen Juan Duns Escoto configura su pensamiento filosófico desde una perspectiva cristiana, en la que la acción divina omnipotente crea y conserva las criaturas. Toda obra del creador ad extra es contingente, de manera que la realidad física recibe ese añadido en el nivel ontológico y operativo. Los objetivos de este trabajo son dos: determinar el alcance y la modalidad en que la potentia Dei actúa sobre el mundo natural según el Doctor Sutil y resolver una posible inconsistencia cuando este (...)
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  18. added 2018-12-05
    The Classic Age of the Distinction Between God's Absolute and Ordered Power: In, Around, and After the Pontificate of John XXII.Massimiliano Traversino Di Cristo - 2018 - Franciscan Studies 76 (1):207-266.
    In more general terms, many mediaeval authors—and not only theologians—used the distinction between God's ordered and absolute power to emphasize how, on the one hand, in an 'orderly' way, the realm of nature reflects God's freedom of choice, leading to the existence of a radically contingent order of creation; but also how, on the other hand, in terms of divine absoluteness and in the economy of salvation, God is never bound in his action, which is truly inscrutable and lies above (...)
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  19. added 2018-10-30
    Does a Truly Ultimate God Need to Exist?Johann Platzer - 2019 - Sophia 58 (3):359-380.
    We explore a ‘Neo-Cartesian’ account of divine ultimacy that raises the concept of God to its ultimate level of abstraction so that we can do away with even the question of his existence. Our starting point is God’s relation to the logical and metaphysical order of reality and the views of Descartes and Leibniz on this topic. While Descartes held the seemingly bizarre view that the eternal truths are freely created by God, Leibniz stands for the mainstream view that the (...)
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  20. added 2018-08-27
    Aquinas on Divine Impeccability, Omnipotence, and Free Will.Agustín Echavarría - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-18.
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  21. added 2018-06-19
    Divine Conservation, Concurrence, and Occasionalism.Edward Ryan Moad - 2018 - International Philosophical Quarterly 58 (2):209-225.
    Occasionalism is the doctrine that relegates all real causal efficacy exclusively to God. This paper will aim to elucidate in some detail the metaphysical considerations that, together with certain common medieval theological axioms, constitute the philosophical steps leading to this doctrine. First, I will explain how the doctrine of divine conservation implies that we should attribute to divine power causal immediacy in every natural event and that it rules out mere conservationism as a model of the causal relation between God (...)
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  22. added 2018-06-19
    Alexander of Aphrodisias on Fate, Providence and Nature.David Torrijos-Castrillejo - 2017 - Forum. Supplement to Acta Philosophica 3:7-18.
    To study the influence of divinity on cosmos, Alexander uses the notions of ‘fate’ and ‘providence,’ which were common in the philosophy of his time. In this way, he provides an Aristotelian interpretation of the problems related to such concepts. In the context of this discussion, he offers a description of ‘nature’ different from the one that he usually regards as the standard Aristotelian notion of nature, i.e. the intrinsic principle of motion and rest. The new coined concept is a (...)
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  23. added 2018-06-19
    Divine Action and Thomism. Why Thomas Aquinas's Thought is Attractive Today.Ignacio Silva - 2016 - Acta Philosophica 25 (1):65-84.
    In this paper I suggest a reason why the Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of providence is attractive to contemporary philosophers of religion in the English-speaking academy. The main argument states that there are at least four metaphysical principles that guided discussions on providence and divine action in the created world, namely divine omnipotence and transcendence, divine providential action, the autonomy of natural created causes, and the success of reason and natural science. Aquinas’ doctrine, I hold, is capable of affirming these four (...)
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  24. added 2018-06-19
    PS.-ARISTOTLE, DE MUNDO. J.C. Thom Cosmic Order and Divine Power. Pseudo-Aristotle, On the Cosmos. Pp. X + 230. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014. Cased, €49. ISBN: 978-3-16-152809-5. [REVIEW]Pavel Gregoric - 2016 - The Classical Review 66 (1):68-70.
  25. added 2018-02-23
    Providence in St. Albert the Great.David Torrijos-Castrillejo - 2016 - Revista Ciências da Religião: História E Sociedade 14:14-44.
    In these pages, we expose the main traits of St. Albert the Great’s doctrine of providence and fate, considered by Palazzo the keystone of his philosophical system. To describe it we examine his systematic works, primarily his Summa of Theology. His discussion follows clearly the guidelines of the Summa of Alexander of Hales, in order to delve into the set of problems faced over the centuries by theological tradition. Albert also restates the reflections of different authors like Boethius or Saint (...)
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  26. added 2018-02-17
    The Divine Essence and the Conception of God in Spinoza.Sherry Deveaux - 2003 - Synthese 135 (3):329-338.
    I argue against a prevailing view that the essence of God is identical with the attributes. I show that given what Spinoza says in 2d2 -- Spinoza's purported definition of the essence of a thing -- the attributes cannot be identical with the essence of God. I argue that while the attributes do not satisfy the stipulations of 2d2 relative to God, absolutely infinite and eternal power does satisfy those stipulations. Hence, I conclude that absolutely infinite and eternal power is (...)
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  27. added 2018-02-15
    La noción de providencia según San Justino.David Torrijos-Castrillejo - 2018 - In Juan Antonio Álvarez-Pedrosa, Mercedes López Salvá, Nuria Sánchez Madrid & Ignacio Sanz Extremeño (eds.), Los orígenes del cristianismo en la filosofía, la literatura y el arte II. Madrid: Dykinson. pp. 271-290.
    This article examines the notion of providence in the thought of St Justin martyr. First, it is shown the relevance of the question for St Justin, since it was an important topic in his time. Secondly, the comparison to the philosophical context provides a more complete view of St Justin’s position. Thirdly, the notion of providence is considered in the whole of St Justins’ thought. So, the author can conclude that Christian philosophy requires a particular providence which nevertheless allows human (...)
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  28. added 2018-01-25
    Why the Perfect Being Theologian Cannot Endorse the Principle of Alternative Possibilities.Samuel Director - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (4):113-131.
    I argue that perfect being theologians cannot endorse the Principle of Alternative Possibilities. On perfect being theology, God is essentially morally perfect, meaning that He always acts in a morally perfect manner. I argue that it is possible that God is faced with a situation in which there is only one morally perfect action, which He must do. If this is true, then God acts without alternative possibilities in this situation. Yet, unless one says that this choice is not free, (...)
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  29. added 2018-01-17
    Voluntarist Theology and Early-Modern Science: The Matter of the Divine Power, Absolute and Ordained.Francis Oakley - 2018 - History of Science 56 (1):72-96.
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  30. added 2018-01-17
    Theism and Dialetheism.A. J. Cotnoir - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):592-609.
    The divine attributes of omniscience and omnipotence have faced objections to their very consistency. Such objections rely on reasoning parallel to semantic paradoxes such as the Liar or to set-theoretic paradoxes like Russell's paradox. With the advent of paraconsistent logics, dialetheism—the view that some contradictions are true—became a major player in the search for a solution to such paradoxes. This paper explores whether dialetheism, armed with the tools of paraconsistent logics, has the resources to respond to the objections levelled against (...)
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  31. added 2018-01-17
    Divine Power and the Spiritual Life in Aquinas.Heather M. Erb - 2017 - Studia Gilsoniana 6 (4):527-547.
    The role of divine power in Aquinas’s spiritual doctrine has often been neglected in favor of a focus on the primacy of charity, the controlling virtue of spiritual progress. The tendency among some thinkers to juxtapose divine love and power stems from the stress on divine immanence at the cost of divine transcendence, and from an evolutionary view of God with its ‘kenotic’ theodicy. A study of the ways in which divine power grounds and directs the spiritual life highlights the (...)
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  32. added 2018-01-17
    Thomas Aquinas on Logic, Being, and Power, and Contemporary Problems for Divine Omnipotence.Errin Clark - 2017 - Sophia 56 (2):247-261.
    I discuss Thomas Aquinas’ views on being, power, and logic, and show how together they provide rebuttals against certain principal objections to the notion of divine omnipotence. The objections I have in mind can be divided into the two classes. One says that the notion of omnipotence ends up in self-contradiction. The other says that it ends up contradicting certain doctrines of traditional theism. Thomas’ account is frequently misunderstood to be a version of what I call a ‘consistent description’ account (...)
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  33. added 2018-01-17
    Foreknowledge, Free Will, and the Divine Power Distinction in Thomas Bradwardine's De Futuris Contingentibus.Hogarth Rossiter Sarah - unknown
    Thomas Bradwardine was an English philosopher, logician, and theologian of some note; but though recent scholarship has revived an interest in much of his work, little attention has been paid to an early treatise he wrote on the topic of future contingents, entitled De futuris contingentibus. In this thesis I aim to address this deficit, arguing in particular that the treatise makes original use of the divine power distinction to resolve the apparent conflict between God’s foreknowledge on the one hand, (...)
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  34. added 2017-11-22
    ‘All is Foreseen, and Freedom of Choice is Granted’: A Scotistic Examination of God's Freedom, Divine Foreknowledge and the Arbitrary Use of Power.Liran Shia Gordon - 2019 - Heythrop Journal 60 (5):711-726.
    Following an Open conception of Divine Foreknowledge, that holds that man is endowed with genuine freedom and so the future is not definitely determined, it will be claimed that human freedom does not limit the divine power, but rather enhances it and presents us with a barrier against arbitrary use of that power. This reading will be implemented to reconcile a well-known quarrel between two important interpreters of Duns Scotus, Allan B. Wolter and Thomas Williams, each of whom supports a (...)
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  35. added 2017-06-12
    Metaphysics in Richard Bentley's Boyle Lectures.Patrick J. Connolly - 2017 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 34 (2):155-74.
    This paper explores the metaphysical system developed in Richard Bentley’s 1692 Boyle Lectures. The lectures are notable for their attempt to argue that developments in natural philosophy, including Newton’s Principia, could bolster natural theology. The paper explores Bentley’s matter theory focusing on his commitment to a particular form of mechanism and his rejection of occult qualities. It then examines his views on the nature of divine omnipotence. Finally, it turns to his understanding of gravitational attraction. While some recent commentators have (...)
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  36. added 2017-06-12
    Misunderstanding the Talk(s) of the Divine: Theodicy in the Wittgensteinian Tradition.Ondřej Beran - 2017 - Sophia 56 (2):183-205.
    The paper discusses the unique approach to the problem of evil employed by the Wittgensteinian philosophy of religion and ethics that is primarily represented by D. Z. Phillips. Unlike traditional solutions to the problem, Phillips’ solution consists in questioning its meaningfulness—he attacks the very ideas of God’s omnipotence, of His perfect goodness and of the need to ‘calculate’ God’s goodness against the evil within the world. A possible weakness of Phillips’ approach is his unreflected use of what he calls ‘our (...)
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  37. added 2017-06-12
    The Power of God and Miracles.Georg Gasser & Josef Quitterer - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (3):247--266.
    In this paper we explicate the notion of a miracle and highlight a suitable ontological framework for it. Our proposal draws on insights from Aquinas’s discussion of miracles and from the modern ontology of powers. We argue that each substance possesses a characteristic set of natural powers and dispositions which are operative or become manifest in the right circumstances. In a miracle divine intervention activates the fundamental disposition inherent in each creature to be responsive to God’s call. Thus, a miracle (...)
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  38. added 2017-06-12
    L'impuissance de Dieu.Gwenaëlle Aubry - 2010 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 135 (3):307.
    Les études ici réunies visent à explorer la résurgence, dans la philosophie et la théologie contemporaines, du motif de l’impuissance de Dieu. La question n’est plus seulement celle, comme dans la pensée médiévale, de la limitation de la toute‑puissance divine, mais bien de son complet abandon. Elle est étroitement liée à l’interrogation sur ce que peut être une théologie d’après la Shoah, et elle préside aussi, chez des penseurs comme Hans Jonas, Gianni Vattimo, ou Giorgio Agamben, au redéploiement des problèmes (...)
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  39. added 2017-06-12
    L'impuissance de Dieu? une solution théologique?Hans-Christoph Askani - 2010 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 135 (3):339.
    Pendant presque deux millénaires, la toute‑puissance a été un attribut inséparable de Dieu et de la foi en Dieu. Depuis un certain temps, et en particulier au xxe siècle, cette toute‑puissance est contestée aussi bien depuis l’extérieur que depuis l’intérieur de la théologie. À l’intérieur de la théologie, on lui substitue volontiers une impuissance que Dieu assumerait délibérément. La question est de savoir si l’affirmation et la négation de cet attribut ne relèvent pas du même type de discours ; d’un (...)
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  40. added 2017-06-12
    Non omnia potens. Spunti per una grammatica dell'onnipotenza in Anselmo d'Aosta.Manlio Della Serra - 2010 - Gregorianum 91 (1):29-42.
    In a well-known tradition, basically marked by the influence of Augustinian thought, the notion of divine omnipotence fixes the conceptual space of theology in the XI century, especially in accordance with the primacy of logical subjects. Among others, Anselm of Canterbury gives to XII century the opportunity to settle this conceptual reference, disclosing and organizing many argumentative solutions of the late scholastic period.
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  41. added 2017-06-12
    Freedom and Necessity: St. Augustine's Teaching on Divine Power and Human Freedom. By Gerald Bonner.David Meconi - 2008 - Heythrop Journal 49 (3):486-487.
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  42. added 2017-06-12
    Freedom and Necessity: St. Augustine’s Teaching on Divine Power and Human Freedom. [REVIEW]Phillip Cary - 2008 - Augustinian Studies 39 (2):295-297.
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  43. added 2017-06-12
    Divine Power: The Medieval Power Distinction Up to its Adoption by Albert, Bonaventure, and Aquinas. [REVIEW]Joseph W. Koterski - 1998 - International Philosophical Quarterly 38 (1):96-98.
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  44. added 2017-06-12
    Divine Power: The Medieval Power Distinction Up to its Adoption by Albert, Bonaventure, and Aquinas. [REVIEW]James C. Doig - 1997 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 71 (1):130-133.
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  45. added 2017-06-12
    Irven Michael Resnick, "Divine Power and Possibility in St. Peter Damian's "De Divina Omnipotentia"". [REVIEW]Pierre J. Payer - 1994 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 32 (2):298.
  46. added 2017-06-12
    Ghazali's Chapter on Divine Power in the Iqtiṣād: MICHAEL E. MARMURA.Michael E. Marmura - 1994 - Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 4 (2):279-315.
    The theological foundations of Ghazali's causal theory are fully expressed in the chapter on the attribute of divine power in his al-Iqtiṣād fi al-I'tiqād. The basic doctrine which he proclaims and argues for is that divine power, an attribute additional to the divine essence, is one and pervasive. It does not consist of a multiplicity of powers that produce a multiplicity of effects, but is a unitary direct cause of each and every created existent. In a defense of the doctrine (...)
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  47. added 2017-06-12
    Ghazali's Chapter on Divine Power in the Iqti ād.Michael E. Marmura - 1994 - Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 4 (2):279-315.
    The theological foundations of Ghazali's causal theory are fully expressed in the chapter on the attribute of divine power in his al-Iqtiād fi al-I'tiqād. The basic doctrine which he proclaims and argues for is that divine power, an attribute additional to the divine essence, is one and pervasive. It does not consist of a multiplicity of powers that produce a multiplicity of effects, but is a unitary direct cause of each and every created existent. In a defense of the doctrine (...)
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  48. added 2017-06-12
    Divine Power: The Medieval Power Distinction Up to its Adoption by Albert, Bonaventure, and Aquinas.Lawrence Moonan - 1994 - Clarendon Press.
    This is a radically new interpretation of the nature of the power of God, as understood by such thinkers as Aquinas in the Middle Ages. The book provides a clear and illuminating discussion of their arguments, focusing on the distinction they made between so-called 'absolute' and 'ordained' divine power. It is full of important insights into the work of some of the key thinkers of the period, and also challenges modern theologians with the relevance and importance of these ideas today.
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  49. added 2017-06-12
    Divine Power in Process Theism: A Philosophical Critique.David Basinger - 1992 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 32 (2):120-121.
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  50. added 2017-06-12
    Divine Power in Process Theism: A Philosophical Critique. [REVIEW]Lewis S. Ford - 1991 - Faith and Philosophy 8 (1):124-127.
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