A Complementary Convergence of Divine Command Theory and Divine Motivation Theory in order to Maintain the Traditional View of God’s Sovereignty and to Better Understand His Character

For thousands of years, since the time of Plato, the gauntlet against divine command theory (DCT) has been thrown down. Relatively recently, Robert Adams has retrieved it engaging the conversation with his modified DCT, in which he invokes the loving nature of God and his revealed will. Linda Zagzebski, however, sees a fly in the theological ointment of modified DCT. She argues that Adams’ argument is both ad hoc and fails to answer the arbitrariness problem. But she diagnoses a deeper issue with modified DCT, which I think is correct. She argues, “There is no intrinsic connection between a command and the property of being loving.”[1] The strength of her theory, divine motivation, is that God motivates us by his actions to imitate him. Although I do not think DMT should supplant modified DCT, Zagzebski rightly understands that divine motivation as a meta-ethic plays an integral part in ethics (viz. how God incarnate motivates us to action by his loving actions). In this paper, I seek to salvage the strengths of modified DCT and DMT. I converge them in a complementary way by showing that DMT needs DCT in order to remain true to the traditional doctrine of divine sovereignty, and that combined, DCT and DMT offer a better understand God’s character, which involves his nature, motives, will, and commands.

[1] Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski, Divine Motivation Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 260.

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A Complementary Convergence of DCT and DMT

Chester Delagneau


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