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Old Oct 11, '10, 5:40 am
Jim Baur Jim Baur is offline
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Default Rambam & Thomas Aquinas on attributes of God

I know that it is almost impossible in such a limited format, but I would like to hear a comparison of teaching on the attributes of God by these two individuals, that is, the Rabam and Thomas Aquinas.

I am hoping to see how they agree or disagree. Or, to what extent they agree or disagree.

I do not want to get involved in an agrument.

I just want to hear clear and concise explanations.

I just want to watch and learn.



Thanks!
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Old Oct 15, '10, 5:58 am
paduard paduard is offline
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Default Re: Rambam & Thomas Aquinas on attributes of God

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Baur View Post
I know that it is almost impossible in such a limited format, but I would like to hear a comparison of teaching on the attributes of God by these two individuals, that is, the Rabam and Thomas Aquinas.

I am hoping to see how they agree or disagree. Or, to what extent they agree or disagree.

I do not want to get involved in an agrument.

I just want to hear clear and concise explanations.

I just want to watch and learn.



Thanks!
I cannot quote anything regarding Rabam and Aquinas i.e. a comparison. It seems to me to be a complicated matter, and not one that I personally have studied.

As the text is too long for one reply - I have had to split into two contributions.

Nevertheless you wanted something clear and concise - this is all I have on file - perhaps it may help:-


Divine Attributes


In order to form a more systematic idea of God, and as far as possible, to unfold the implications of the truth, God is All-Perfect, this infinite Perfection is viewed, successively, under various aspects, each of which is treated as a separate perfection and characteristic inherent to the Divine Substance, or Essence. A certain group of these, of paramount import, is called the Divine Attributes.

Our natural knowledge of God is acquired by discursive reasoning upon the data of sense by introspection, "For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also, and Divinity" (St. Paul, Romans 1:20 The profound disparity between the Divine perfection and the intimations of it presented in the world-copy may be broadly laid down under two heads:

The supernatural knowledge of God given in revelation is apprehended through the medium of conceptions that belong to natural knowledge. Therefore the same principles of attribution that govern the one hold good also for the other.

Number:

The perfections of creatures are innumerable, the Divine Perfection is one.

Diversity:

Created perfections differ endlessly in kind and degree; the Divine perfection is uniform, simple. It is not a totality of various perfections; absolutely simple, the Divine perfection answers to every idea of actual or conceivable perfection, without being determined to the particular mode of any.

The elaboration of the idea of God is carried out along three converging lines.

(1) The positive way of causality

In virtue of the principle that whatever excellence is contained in an effect is represented in the efficiency of the cause, reason affirms that every positive perfection of created being has its transcendental analogue in the first cause. Hence, from the existence of an intelligent being, man, in the cosmos, we rightly infer that God is intelligent, that is to say, His infinite perfection is superabundantly adequate to all the operations of intellect.

(2) The negative way

If we fix our attention precisely on the Infinity of God, then, focusing the negation not upon the positive content of any created perfection but upon the fact that, because it is finite it is determined in kind and limited in degree, we may affirm that it is not found in God.

We may say, e.g., that He is not intelligent. The meaning of the statement is not that God lacks intelligence but that in Him there is no intelligence exactly as we know it.

Again, since there is no imperfection in God, every concept of defect, privation, and limitation must be negated of God. Many negative names, it is true, are applied to God; as when, for instance, He is said to be immutable, uncaused, infinite. It should, however, be carefully observed that some attributes, which, from the etymological point of view are negative, convey, nevertheless, a positive meaning.
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Old Oct 15, '10, 6:02 am
paduard paduard is offline
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Default Re: Rambam & Thomas Aquinas on attributes of God

Divine Attributes (contd.)


(3) Way of eminence

The concept of a perfection derived from created things and freed of all defects, is, in its application to God, expanded without limit.

God not only possesses every excellence discoverable in creation, but He also possesses it infinitely.

Division of attributes

Taking as the basis of classification the ways by which the attributes are developed, they are divided into positive and negative.

Among the negative attributes are simplicity, infinity, immutability.

The chief positive attributes are unity, truth, goodness, beauty, omnipotence omnipresence, intellect and will, personality.

Some authors divide them into incommunicable and communicable. The former class comprises those which belong to God alone (e.g., all-wise, self-existent, omnipotent) to the latter belong those which are predicable, analogically, of God and creatures as good, just, intelligent.

Again, the divine nature considered either as static or as the source activity; hence another division into quiescent and active.

Finally, some perfections involve a relation to things distinct from God, while others do not; and from this standpoint theologians divide the attributes into absolute and relative.

Historical development

In the fourth century: the Divine nature is simple, excluding all composition or multiplicity.

St. Thomas definitively expressed the doctrine which may be summarized as follows:

The idea of God is derived from our knowledge of finite beings. When a term is predicated of the finite and of the Infinite, it is used, not in a univocal, but in analogical sense. The Divine Perfection, one and invisible, is, in its infinity, the transcendental analogue of all actual and possible finite perfections. By means of an accumulation of analogous predicates methodically co-ordinated, we endeavour to form an approximate conception of the Deity who, because He is Infinite, cannot be comprehended by finite intelligence.

Between the finite and the Infinite there is no common ground of predication, hence; words which signify finite perfections can have no real meaning when predicated of God; they become mere empty symbols. All theological attempts to elaborate an idea of God are vain, and result in complete absurdity when they conceive God after man's image and likeness and circumscribe the Infinite in terms borrowed from human psychology.

The position of the Catholic Church declared in the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), is again clearly stated in the following pronouncement of the Vatican Council:

The Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church believes and professes that there is one living and true God, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth:

omnipotent,
eternal,
immense,
incomprehensible,
infinite in intellect and will and in all perfection

Who, being One,
singular,
absolutely simple
and unchangeable spiritual substance,


is to be regarded as distinct really and in essence from the world
most blessed in and from Himself,
and unspeakably elevated above all things that exist,
or can be conceived,
except Himself.


(Source: extracts from Catholic Encyclopaedia)
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