I'm reading "The Free Will Defense" by Alvin Plantinga and he makes the comment that Martin Luther and Descartes thought that God's power is unlimited even by the laws of logic. He doesn't further explain their position or give a reference.

Could someone either point me to where I can learn more about this view on God's omnipotence, or perhaps explain their view?

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    Which laws of logic? You'll find that ordinary, human logicians have transcended the laws of logic. They did this essentially by looking at a theory of logic formally. So Luthor & Descarte were right... Mar 20, 2014 at 6:54
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    There was a similar theme on Islam.SE following a question about the omnipotent paradox. I believe God as a concept is definitely bound by the rules of logic and rightly so. But that doesn't contradict the notion of God's omnipotence in reality. Things that are logically impossible to exist can never be a subject of God's power and that doesn't imply an incapability on the part of God but rather an inherent impossibility on the part of the supposed object. islam.stackexchange.com/questions/11966/…
    – infatuated
    Apr 1, 2014 at 15:03

2 Answers 2


Both Descartes and Luther mean that, for instance, God could have made it so that 2+2=5. Traditional Catholic theologians wouldn't have agreed with that interpretation of God's omnipotence, not least because it isn't a limitation on God's ability to be able to perform an incoherent action. God can't make a round square, not because he lacks some ability, but because there's nothing a round square could be.


Shane's answer is exactly right -- many late Medievals and early Moderns believed in what is called voluntarism. The view is that what God wills decides what is to such a strong extent that rules of morality just go through.

The view has resurfaced with a new title as "divine command theory" -- but it turns out that this is not the divine command theory most often offered. Instead, its a kind of boogie man accusation about other people's accounts of the relationship between God and morality. Kierkegaard is sometimes accused of having such a view. DCT can also refer to a theory about how we know morality rather than the nature of morality.

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