Differences and commonalities between Catholic and Baha'i cosmology

In a recent dialogue with our mutual friend Vouthon, I thought I would start a thread on cosmology, the nature of God, the nature of the Kingdom and the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the “Essence of God”

I will post the foundations of this dialogue below :slight_smile:

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The World of God.

Some de fide teachings of the Catholic Faith about God:

catholictreasury.info/trinity.php

The Nature of God

Our natural knowledge of God in this world is not an immediate, intuitive cognition, but a mediate, abstractive knowledge, because it is attained through the knowledge of creatures. (Sent. certa.)
Our knowledge of God here below is not proper (cognition propria) but analogical (cognition analoga or analogica). (Sent. certa.
The Blessed in Heaven possess an immediate intuitive knowledge of the Divine Essence. (De Fide)
The Immediate Vision of God transcends the natural power of cognition of the human soul, and is therefore supernatural. (De Fide)
The soul, for the Immediate Vision of God, requires the Light of Glory. (De Fide D 475.)
God’s Essence is also incomprehensible to the blessed in Heaven. (De Fide)

The Attributes or Qualities of God

The Divine Attributes are really identical among themselves and with the Divine Essence. (De Fide)
God is absolutely perfect. (De Fide)
God is actually infinite in every perfection. (De Fide)
God is absolutely simple. (De Fide)
There is only One God. (De Fide)
The One God is, in the ontological sense, The True God. (De Fide)
God is absolute Veracity. (De Fide)
God is absolutely faithful. (De Fide)
God is absolute ontological Goodness in Himself and in relation to others. (De Fide)
God is absolute Benignity. (De Fide) D 1782.
God is absolutely immutable. (De Fide)
God is eternal. (De Fide)
God is immense or absolutely immeasurable. (De Fide)
God is everywhere present in created space. (De Fide)
God’s Knowledge is Infinite. (De Fide)
God knows all that is merely possible by the knowledge of simple intelligence (scientia simplicis intelligentiae). (De Fide)
God knows all real things in the past, the present and the future. (scientia visionis). (De Fide)
By the knowledge of vision (scientia visionis) God also foresees the future free acts of the rational creatures with infallible certainty. (De Fide)
God also knows the conditioned future free actions with infallible certainty (scientia futuribilium). (Sent. communis)
God’s Divine Will is Infinite. (De Fide)
God loves Himself of necessity, but loves and wills the creation of extra-Divine things, on the other hand, with freedom. (De Fide)
God is almighty. (De Fide)
God is the Lord of the heavens and of the earth. (De Fide)
God is infinitely just. (De Fide)
God is infinitely merciful. (De Fide)

Are we in agreement that God is unknowable in His essence?

While these attributes of God are de fide teachings, they are in actuality “not God” at all, for if they were God, then “knowability” becomes the reality.

Do we agree that these de fide qualities are attributed to God so that there are no “imperfections” attributed to Him?

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Thank you for the thread brother :slight_smile:

What God is cannot be known, for He is transcendent in essence, however He has seen fit to reveal Himself to man through the incarnation of the Son of God. Further we can know the attributes of God through the divine wisdom in which he created the world and that is reflected therein.

Catholics make a distinction between what we call Deus a se or “God in God’s self”, (meaning God as He is in Himself, in that inner, mysterious essence that is beyond all human reason and which is inaccessible to man) as opposed to Deus pro nobis or “God for us” (that is God’s relation with His human creatures through the twin lights of revelation and reason). The Eastern Orthodox came up with the very original terminology of “energy” as distinct from “essence” (ie Palamas).

Please read:

strobertbellarmine.net/wilhelm_scannell_09.html

**A Manual Of Catholic Theology, Based On Scheeben’s “Dogmatik”

1906

CHAPTER II

THE ESSENCE AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD, CONSIDERED GENERALLY.**

SECT. 60.—Fundamental conception of God’s Essence and Nature.

WE have now to inquire whether, among our conceptions of God, there is some one which may be considered as the foundation of all the others.

I. A direct and intuitive representation of the Divine Substance [Essence] as It is in Itself, is manifestly impossible. Our knowledge of God is restricted to His attributes which we see reflected in creatures, and which we refer to the Divine Substance; but the Substance itself we have no power to apprehend…We must bear in mind throughout that the conceptions of essence and substance as applied to God are only analogous, because the essences which we know are not identical with existence. Hence the expressions : “God is [Greek words omitted],” that is, God is His own Essence, is above all essences, and is without essence…

Saint Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – c. 395) explained this well in his Sermons on the Beatitudes (Sermon 6):

"…The Divine Nature, whatever It may be in Itself, surpasses every mental concept. For It is altogether inaccessible to reasoning and conjecture, nor has there been found any human faculty capable of perceiving the incomprehensible; for we cannot devise a means of understanding inconceivable things. Therefore, the great Apostle calls His ways unsearchable, meaning by this that the way that leads to knowledge of the Divine Essence is inaccessible to thought. That is to say, none of those who have passed through life before us has made known to the intelligence so much as a trace by which might be known what is above knowledge.

Since such is He whose nature is above every nature, the Invisible and Incomprehensible is seen and apprehended in another manner. Many are the modes of such perception. For it is possible to see Him who has made all things in wisdom by way of inference through the wisdom that appears in the universe. It is the same as with human works of art where, in a way, the mind can perceive the maker of the product that is before it, because he has left on his work the stamp of his art. In this, however, is seen not the nature of the artist, but only his artistic skill which he has left impressed on his handiwork. Thus also, when we look at the order of creation, we form in our mind an image not of the essence, but of the wisdom of Him who has made all things wisely. And if we consider the cause of our life, that He came to create man not from necessity, but from the free decision of his goodness, we say that we have contemplated God by this way, that we have apprehended his goodness so again, not his essence, but his goodness. It is the same with all other things that raised the mind to transcendent goodness, all these we can term apprehensions of God, since each one of these sublime meditations places God within our sight. For power, purity, constancy, freedom from contrariety all these engrave on the soul the impress of the divine and transcendent mind. Hence it is clear through what has just been said that the Lord speaks the truth when he promises that God will be seen by those who have a pure heart; nor does Paul deceive when he asserts in his letters that no one has seen God, nor can he see him. For he is invisible by nature, but becomes visible in his energies, for he may be contemplated in the things that are referred to him…"

-*** Saint Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – c. 395)***

Here is a video by Fr Barron on What Christians mean by God - youtu.be/W_Yjue8MXAI

I think it will greatly help you. We cannot fully understand God but we can know what has been revealed to the Church about God (de Fide).

That is an absolutely marvellous video by Fr Barron! Thank you so much for that! :thumbsup:

I am enjoying Father Barron’s Lent daily quotations my dad introduced me to.

Check out his website wordonfire.org

He has tons of 10 min YouTube videos, homilies, and articles

The video I posted is just 7 mins of his 10 hr Catholicism series. It’s fantastic. Buy it ! :slight_smile:

(I don’t work for him either! :smiley:

As always, its an honour and a delight :slight_smile:

What God is cannot be known, for He is transcendent in essence

Agreed, we have commonality here :slight_smile:

however He has seen fit to reveal Himself to man through the incarnation of the Son of God.

If you are okay with this brother, lets establish foundations about the nature of God, His attributes etc first, so we have a really firm base and we can hopefully build the house we wish to all live in as we progress? I am trying (very poorly) to be systematic with this theology so I can learn from you in a rational, and orderly way, with precision and clarity :slight_smile:

Further we can** know the attributes of God through** the divine wisdom in which he created the world and that is reflected therein.

with permission, I took the liberty to highlight what I think is critical for our foundational base we are trying to embrace. Namely that the created world holds aspects of the “ATTRIBUTES” of God, not the essence of God. God Himself does not bring Himself into His creation, His attributes are reflected in His Creation. This is summarised very nicely in the Fr. Barron video which Jon S very kindly shared :slight_smile: (thankyou Jon, it was indeed a great video! :slight_smile: )

Abdu'l-Bahá says:Their [the attribute’s] existence is proved and necessitated by the appearance of phenomena’: we see that the universe follows a harmonious and ordered way, and we say that God is its Ordainer; we see creatures, and we say that God is their Creator. But our understanding of these attributes is only what we have understood, in the plane of the world of creation, of these spiritual truths, which are far beyond our minds. This is what Western philosophers call via eminentiae.

When we look at a block of lead we learn about its attributes. Its hardness, solidity and reflectiveness/shine are its attributes. Its essence (from my understanding of the word “essence”) is found in its molecular, and even in its subatomic structure, ad even beyond that even. We as human beings cannot even fully understand the “FULL” essence of a block of lead!

Now, were we to, as human beings, start to emulate and take on some of the attributes of this block of lead, namely we become hardened, more solid and shiny on our skin, then we are said to become manifest in the “image” of the lead block’s attributes. we never “actually become a block of lead”…

If we were to imagine the sun and its attributes of heat and light, and its “essence” of nuclear and sub-nuclear reactions we see that it is the “ATTRIBUTES” that are reflected in a mirror pointed in its direction, not its essence.

So here we have a distinction between “attributes” and “essence” from my understanding of the Baha’i Writings, which is beautifully worded in your next segment:

Catholics make a distinction between what we call Deus a se or “God in God’s self”, (meaning God as He is in Himself, in that inner, mysterious essence that is beyond all human reason and which is inaccessible to man) as opposed to Deus pro nobis or “God for us” (that is God’s relation with His human creatures through the twin lights of revelation and reason). The Eastern Orthodox came up with the very original terminology of “energy” as distinct from “essence” (ie Palamas).

Deus a se is the unapproachable Sun, the “Essence of Essences”…

Exalted, immeasurably exalted, art Thou above the strivings of mortal man to unravel Thy mystery, to describe Thy glory, or even to hint at the nature of Thine Essence. For whatever such strivings may accomplish, they never can hope to transcend the limitations imposed upon Thy creatures, inasmuch as these efforts are actuated by Thy decree, and are begotten of Thine invention - Baha’u’llah

…do we agree that this is an “unknowable” reality?

According to the Baha’i Writings (again from my humble understanding) Deus a se is distinct from creation, just as the physical sun is distinct from earth. Deus a se is eternal in all aspects of the word, and is “uncreated” (as the Buddha would say)

Deus a se is often referred to as “He is in Himself” or “I am that I am” or as you pointed out, “God in God’s self”…this realm or station of being is termed in the Baha’i Writings as the “World of God”…it is unapproachable by anything created, in fact it resides separate from creation altogether.

Are we on the same page in regards to Deus a se, the World of God? (please don’t worry that I will in any way hold you accountable with anything being written here :slight_smile:
This is a dialogue carried forward with loving sincerity and camaraderie, not for segregation or elitist outcomes dear brother)

Its features include:

  1. Eternal existence in Himself.
  2. Uncreated
  3. Separate from its Creation
  4. Eternally the Creator

Once we have this foundation we can explore some of the “essential” and “active” attributes that emanate from the Deus a se :slight_smile:

Thankyou for reading…

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I think for example here…

“Catholics make a distinction between what we call Deus a se or “God in God’s self”, (meaning God as He is in Himself, in that inner, mysterious essence that is beyond all human reason and which is inaccessible to man) as opposed to Deus pro nobis or “God for us” (that is God’s relation with His human creatures through the twin lights of revelation and reason). The Eastern Orthodox came up with the very original terminology of “energy” as distinct from “essence” (ie Palamas).”

This is true, Catholics don’t further elaborate in the direction which the East does. However both arrive at the same destination.

"I suggest that the Eastern and Western theologians are asking different questions. The Eastern theologian asks, “How is it that God can truly communicate God to creatures?” He answers this question by positing a distinction within God between his imparticipable essence and his participable energies. His answer is theological. The Western theologian, particularly within the scholastic tradition, asks, “How is it possible for the human creature to receive deity? In what ways must he be transformed and altered to make this supernatural union possible?” He answers this question by invoking a distinction between uncreated and created grace. His answer is metaphysical.

The classic Eastern concern is to insist that the human creature, by the gift of grace, truly participates in divinity. The classic Western concern is insist that participation in God does not obliterate human nature but rather sanctifies and transforms it. These concerns are not incompatible, even though the Orthodox and Catholic theologian typically reflect upon the mystery of divine union through different conceptualities. Orthodox and Catholic are united in their common conviction that in his unmerited love God communicates himself to sinners and incorporates them into the mystery of his Trinitarian life." Father Al Kimel

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Colossians 2:9

“For in Him was pleased to dwell all the fullness of the Godhead.” Colossians 1:19

Thanks for this Gary.

What in your understanding is the difference between “created and uncreated grace”?

:slight_smile:

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Age old language barrier between east and west based on misunderstanding. Latin theology distinguishes between knowing the Divine Essence, and comprehending the Divine Nature. So is this sense both east and west must be somewhat properly understood before comparing. Aquinas, states that creatures by definition can’t possess Divinity as the Divine Persons possess it but according to our nature. So Aquinas when speaking of Created is speaking on for example the partaking in the Sacraments such Baptism or Communion. So the East through essence energies is stating that we share in “uncreated Grace”, Aquinas is saying that participation occurs by us, “created” refers to the making us new creations in Christ. Human Nature is augmented by the Divine Nature.

Peace

So is my understanding correct in saying that “uncreated grace” emanates from God and is with God, co-eternal, and “created grace” is attracted through the Sacraments?

:slight_smile:

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Just ordered it. Thanks for the link.

~Jan

Dear brother Servant :slight_smile:

The created world does not hold the essence of God in an essential manner, in the sense of Him being limited by or “part” of the essences of created things. He is infinitly beyond creation in this respect since He is illimitable, Uncreated and Divine. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church teaches that God is universally present throughout His creation by His “presence, power and essence”. This does not mean that God as He is in Himself is knowable by man, rather it means to say that He is is present in His totality throughout all creation as well as beyond it. The created world exhibits the attributes of God, as in imprints of the artist on His painting, yet we also know from the twin lights of revelation and reason that God is present by His Essence. For as you yourself highlighted in the OP:

The Divine Attributes are really identical among themselves and with the Divine Essence. (De Fide)

God is absolutely simple. He is a perfect Unity without any binary or dual parts. Therefore if He is present anywhere, He is present in His Totality, in the Fullness of His Divine Nature but without being in any way limited or contained

St. Thomas Aquinas noted in the Summa:

newadvent.org/summa/1008.htm

God is in all things; not, indeed, as part of their essence, nor as an accident, but as an agent is present to that upon which it works…

Further, others said that, although all things are subject to God’s providence, still all things are not immediately created by God; but that He immediately created the first creatures, and these created the others.** Against these it is necessary to say that He is in all things by His essence.**

Therefore, God is in all things by His power, inasmuch as all things are subject to His power; He is by His presence in all things, as all things are bare and open to His eyes; He is in all things by His essence, inasmuch as He is present to all as the cause of their being.

For Catholics the preservative action of God, wherewith he holds every creature in existence, is identical with His very being or essence.

This section from “The Beauty and Truth of the Catholic faith” published originally in German in 1816, explains this well:

catholictradition.org/Easter/easter6c.htm

**The Beauty and Truth of the Catholic Church
Vol. IV

Sermon III:
The Omnipresence of God**

*“For in Him we live, and move, and are.”-----ACTS 17, 28 *

But how, my beloved, is God everywhere present in all His creatures? He is everywhere present by His Substance or Nature [Essence]; secondly by His omnipresence and thirdly by His omnipotence. God is, first, everywhere present by His Substance or Nature. Wherever we may be, there God is truly and really: “In Him we live, move and are.” Everywhere is His whole, indivisible Godhead, His goodness and love, His mercy and justice, His wisdom and omnipotence, and all the greatness and perfection of His Divine Nature. God is everywhere the same as He is in Heaven, the same, Who created the earth and governs it. If our eyes would be opened we would behold Him here everywhere, and be blessed in this vision. For the Saints in Heaven are happy only because they behold God, and God permits Himself to be seen by them in Heaven and not everywhere, because the blessed cannot be everywhere, and Heaven, not the earth, according to the will of God is the dwelling-place of the blessed…

God is, therefore, everywhere and in all creatures present with His substance, omniscience and omnipotence. As we can conclude from the exterior and visible of man his interior and invisible, his soul, which communicates to the body its being, life and movement, so also we can penetrate with the eye of faith the whole creation and recognize in it the omnipresence of God Who gives and preserves to everything its existence, life and movement.

So, by omnipresence we teach that God, in the fullness of his Divine Essence yet without “diffusion or expansion, multiplication or division, penetrates and fills the universe and beyond in all its parts” as one scholar wrote.

Again from Fr. John Hardon’s dictionary (he was the founder of Catholic Answers):

catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=35261

Omnipresence

God being simultaneously wherever he is, since he is present everywhere. The divine omnipresence is twofold, by nature and by grace.

By nature God is present in all things by essence, knowledge, and power. This is the presence of a cause in the things that share in God’s goodness. By his essence, he is substantially in all things, including the created spiritual essences (angels, demons, human souls) as the immediate origin of their existence. By his knowledge, he exercises his wisdom directly in all creation down to the least details. By his power, he operates with divine activity as the First Cause of everything that creatures do.

By grace, God is further present in the souls in whom he dwells as in a temple. Hence the creature is joined, as it were, to God’s substance, through the activity of mind and heart, by faith cleaving to the First Truth, and by charity to the First Good. He is therefore present by grace as the known is to the knower and the beloved is to the lover. This presence is more than a cause in an effect. It is the possession of God on earth similar to his being possessed by the angels and saints in heaven.

No

“grace is said to be created inasmuch as men are created with reference to it” Aquinas-Summa

Hi brother :slight_smile:

I think we have an area of commonality here.

Abdu’l-Baha categorically states that:

Know that the Reality of Divinity or the substance of the Essence of Oneness is pure sanctity and absolute holiness—that is to say, it is sanctified and exempt from all praise. The whole of the supreme attributes of the degrees of existence, in reference to this plane, are only imaginations. It is invisible, incomprehensible, inaccessible, a pure essence which cannot be described, for the Divine Essence surrounds all things. Verily, that which surrounds is greater than the surrounded, and the surrounded cannot contain that by which it is surrounded, nor comprehend its reality. However far mind may progress, though it may reach to the final degree of comprehension, the limit of understanding, it beholds the divine signs and attributes in the world of creation and not in the world of God. For the essence and the attributes of the Lord of Unity are in the heights of sanctity, and for the minds and understandings there is no way to approach that position. “The way is closed, and seeking is forbidden.”

reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-37.html

cont…

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cont…

God is absolutely simple. He is a perfect Unity without any binary or dual parts. Therefore if He is present anywhere, He is present in His Totality, in the Fullness of His Divine Nature but without being in any way limited or contained

St. Thomas Aquinas noted in the Summa:

newadvent.org/summa/1008.htm

When Aquinas is talking about how God’s essence is “in all things” it reminds me of how the world of the womb is “in this world”, as taught in Baha’i theology and that how this world is “in the World of the Kingdom” and how the World of the Kingdom is “in the World of God”

He indeed is the “Embracer” of all things within His Essence…

Yet one must understand the inability of the “surrounded” to comprehend the “Surrounder”

For Catholics the preservative action of God, wherewith he holds every creature in existence, is identical with His very being or essence.

I like that, “He holds every creature in existence” :slight_smile:

Would you therefore say that the “essential” attributes (as opposed to His active attributes) of God are identical with His Essence?

This section from “The Beauty and Truth of the Catholic faith” published originally in German in 1816, explains this well:

catholictradition.org/Easter/easter6c.htm

So, by omnipresence we teach that God, in the fullness of his Divine Essence yet without “diffusion or expansion, multiplication or division, penetrates and fills the universe and beyond in all its parts” as one scholar wrote.

Again from Fr. John Hardon’s dictionary (he was the founder of Catholic Answers):

catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=35261

Yes, with His omnipresence He is present in, or surrounding all things.

Abdu’l-Baha again expresses however that this omnipresent reality of God’s essence manifests itself on contingent reality through His “active attributes”

By this I mean the following:

"Furthermore, the reality of Divinity is characterized by certain names and attributes. Among these names are Creator, Resuscitator, Provider, the All-Present, Almighty, Omniscient and Giver. These names and attributes of Divinity are eternal and not accidental. This is a very subtle point which demands close attention. Their existence is proved and necessitated by the appearance of phenomena. For example, Creator presupposes creation, Resuscitator implies resuscitation, Provider necessitates provision; otherwise, these would be empty and impossible names. Merciful evidences an object upon which mercy is bestowed. If mercy were not manifest, this attribute of God would not be realized. The name Lord proves the existence of subjects over whom sovereignty is exercised. The name Omniscient demands the objects of all-knowing. Unless these objects existed, omniscience would be meaningless and without function. The name the Wise necessitates objects for the exercise of wisdom; and unless wisdom comprehended them, this name would be inconceivable. Therefore, the divine names and attributes presuppose the existence of phenomena implied by those names and attributes. And vice versa—the sovereignty of God is proved and established through their verity and being.

Reflect then carefully that the sovereignty of God is not accidental but everlasting and eternal, and that it necessitates the existence of phenomenal being. Kingship necessitates a kingdom, an army, a treasury, subjects, a court and ministers. How could there be a king without subjects, dominion and wealth? Otherwise, anybody could claim to be a king. “Where is your army?” “I do not need one.” “Where is your country?” “It is unnecessary. I am a king without a kingdom, without army, subjects or sovereignty.” Is this possible?

Therefore, divine sovereignty necessitates a creation over which its dominion is exercised. There must be evidences of sovereignty. If we try to conceive of a time when creation was nonexistent, when there were no subjects or creatures under divine dominion and control, Divinity itself would disappear; there would be a cessation of the bounty of God, just as the kingship and favor of an earthly monarch would disappear if his kingdom did not exist. The sovereignty of God is eternal. There has been no beginning; there will be no end. This is as evident as the sun at midday, even to one endowed with limited reason."

reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-93.html

Yet again, I appreciate your thought-provoking insights dear brother, and thank you for considering mine :slight_smile:

God bless!

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Dear brother Servant,

Thank you for two very interesting posts. I am impressed by what you have discovered here, I do think that you have touched upon some gold dust around which we can have a meeting of minds. We are dealing with quite difficult theological beliefs, so it is good that we are making headway.

It is invisible, incomprehensible, inaccessible, a pure essence which cannot be described, for the Divine Essence surrounds all things.

That the Divine Essence is described as “surrounding all things” certainly brings the Baha’i perspective closer to the Catholic one, more so than I had thought. Our understanding was summed up by Saint Bonaventure (1221 – 1274), a Doctor of the Church, as follows: “God is an intelligible sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”.

St. Columba (521-597), who was an Irish abbot and missionary credited with spreading the Christian Faith to Scotland, composed a series of sermons late in his life. These sermons exhibit a very refined and sophisticated grasp of Catholic dogma, which the Saint was in the process of imparting to converted pagans.

Here is a link to the Sermons:

ucc.ie/celt/published/T201053/

In one of them he says this:

God is everywhere. He is immeasurably vast and yet everywhere he is close at hand, as he himself bears witness: I am a God close at hand, and not a God who is distant. It is not a God who is far away that we are seeking, since (if we deserve it) he is within us. For he lives in us as the soul lives in the body – if only we are healthy limbs of his, if we are dead to sin. Then indeed he lives within us, he who has said: And I will live in them and walk among them. If we are worthy for him to be in us then in truth he gives us life, makes us his living limbs. As St Paul says, In him we live and move and have our being.
Given his indescribable and incomprehensible essence, who will explore the Most High? Who can examine the depths of God? Who will take pride in knowing the infinite God who fills all things and surrounds all things, who pervades all things and transcends all things, who takes possession of all things but is not himself possessed by any thing? The infinite God whom no-one has seen as he is? Therefore let no-one try to penetrate the secrets of God, what he was, how he was, who he was. These things cannot be described, examined, explored. Simply – simply but strongly – believe that God is as God was, that God will be as God has always been, for God cannot be changed.
So who is God? God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God. Do not demand to know more of God. Those who want to see into the depths must first consider the natural world, for knowledge of the Trinity is rightly compared to knowledge of the depths of the sea: as Ecclesiastes says, And the great depths, who shall fathom them? Just as the depths of the sea are invisible to human sight, so the godhead of the Trinity is beyond human sense and understanding. Thus, I say, if anyone wants to know what he should believe, let him not think that he will understand better through speech than through belief: if he does that, the wisdom of God will be further from him than before.

:smiley:

These names and attributes of Divinity are eternal and not accidental. This is a very subtle point which demands close attention.

We do not believe that there are any accidents in God. As St. Thomas Aquinas explained:

newadvent.org/summa/1003.htm#article6

From all we have said, it is clear there can be no accident in God.

First, because a subject is compared to its accidents as potentiality to actuality; for a subject is in some sense made actual by its accidents. But there can be no potentiality in God, as was shown (2, 3).

Secondly, because God is His own existence; and as Boethius says (Hebdom.), although every essence may have something superadded to it, this cannot apply to absolute being: thus a heated substance can have something extraneous to heat added to it, as whiteness, nevertheless absolute heat can have nothing else than heat.

Thirdly, because what is essential is prior to what is accidental. Whence as God is absolute primal being, there can be in Him nothing accidental.

Furthermore we make a distinction between absolute attributes and relative attributes:

www3.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/cp37.htm

ART. I. – ATTRIBUTES OF GOD IN GENERAL.

  1. There are two kinds of attributes in God, absolute and relative. – Although human reason cannot comprehend God, it can, however, acquire a knowledge not only of His existence, but also of some of His attributes. These attributes are of two kinds: some belong to God considered in Himself, and these are absolute attributes; the others belong to Him as Creator of the world, and these are relative attributes.
  1. The divine attributes are not known by us directly, but we attain to a knowledge of them from the perfections which we discover in creatures. – The cause must possess, if not in a superior degree, at least in an equal degree, all the perfections of the effect; otherwise the effect would excel its cause, which is absurd. Hence, as we infer the existence of the cause from the existence of the effect, so from the perfections of the effect we ascend to those of the cause. Therefore, since God is the absolute cause of all the perfections in creatures, it is from the knowledge of these perfections that we come to know those of God. Now, as creatures possess finite being, their perfections are also finite or limited; but as God, on the contrary, is infinite in being, His perfections must likewise be infinite. It is, therefore, necessary, before attributing to God any one of the perfections of His creatures, to take from it all limit and to consider it then as found in God in an eminent manner, as absolutely infinite.
  1. As God is pure act, infinite Being, and perfectly simple, the divine attributes are identical with one another, and with the divine essence. If we distinguish them, it is because of the limitations of our mind. – In creatures the attributes arise from the essence, but are not identified with it. Tbus man’s liberty, though having its principle in his essence, is really distinct from it. In like manner, in creatures one attribute is distinct from another; in man intellect is one thing, will is another. These distinctions are not found in God. For since God is perfectly simple, to admit any distinction whatever between His attributes and His essence would be to destroy His perfect simplicity, since all distinction supposes a certain composition in that in which it exists. Now, if the divine substance were composed of parts, either each of these parts would be infinite, and then there would be as many gods as there would be parts, which is contrary to the divine unity already proved; or the infinite would result from a collection of finite parts, the perfect from the imperfect, which is absurd. Moreover, if the divine perfections were really distinct, as are those of creatures, they would no longer exist in an infinitely perfect manner in God; for, that two things be distinct, it is necessary that one be without some quality that the other has, and consequently all distinction is necessarily a principle of limit and imperfection. From this, however, it would be wrong to conclude that as the plurality of divine attributes depends on the mode in which our intellect knows God, these attributes do not really exist in Him. It is one thing to say that the perfections which we attribute to God do not exist in Him, and it is quite another thing to assert that in Him they are not distinct as our intellect conceives them. The perfections which we predicate of God are really in Him, but not with that distinction which our limited intellect establishes among them

Vouthon - Yes agreed there are no Accidents - To think that there was an accident in Creation would take away from the Perfection of the Creator. This is also clear in the writings of Baha’u’llah. But how we look at the topic…

“Can one of sane mind ever seriously imagine that, in view of certain words the meaning of which he cannot comprehend, the portal of God’s infinite guidance can ever be closed in the face of men? Can he ever conceive for these Divine Luminaries, these resplendent Lights either a beginning or an end? What outpouring flood can compare with the stream of His all-embracing grace, and what blessing can excel the evidences of so great and pervasive a mercy? There can be no doubt whatever that if for one moment the tide of His mercy and grace were to be withheld from the world, it would completely perish. For this reason, from the beginning that hath no beginning the portals of Divine mercy have been flung open to the face of all created things, and the clouds of Truth will continue to the end that hath no end to rain on the soil of human capacity, reality and personality their favors and bounties. Such hath been God’s method continued from everlasting to everlasting”. reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/gwb-27.html

The Baha’i Faith also has many writings re Distinction of attributes, here is one;

"Know that there are two kinds of knowledge: the knowledge of the essence of a thing and the knowledge of its qualities. The essence of a thing is known through its qualities; otherwise, it is unknown and hidden.

As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it possible to comprehend in its essence the Divine Reality, which is unlimited? … Knowing God, therefore, means the comprehension and the knowledge of His attributes, and not of His Reality. This knowledge of the attributes is also proportioned to the capacity and power of man; it is not absolute". `Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, 3d ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981), pp. 220-21. Link to discussion - info.bahai.org/article-1-4-0-2.html#4

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