Four Aquinas questions

  1. Aquinas says of God that “there can be no definition of Him” and that God is so far above any definition (like Love) that He is more unlike the definition than like it. Can anyone explain this further

  2. He argues (biblehub.com/library/aquinas/nature_and_grace/article_eight_whether_god_enters.htm) that God cannot enter into the composition of things, but don’t these arguments contradict the Incarnation?

  3. He says “therefore it does not follow that a creature is good through
    its essence. The goodness of a creature is not its very essence; it is
    being…” And yet he says “therefore all things are not good by the divine
    goodness but by their own perfection”. And he says that that the
    goodness of something is “superadded” even though it is identical with its being.
    This is all very interesting and I don’t believe inconsistent. Again, any helpful comments?

  4. Maybe the answer to 3 needs an answer to this questions first. Aquinas
    says God’s nature is not different from His suppositum, nor His essence
    from His being. Is there a simple way of understanding this?

:slight_smile:

For 1 a definition of God - I thought that the Baltimore catechism said that God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, who made all things and keeps them in existence.

Well that is not to understand His Essense

Perhaps you could substantiate this by giving us the full quotation from Aquinas. :confused:

He says it several times without clarifying context in the first part of the Summa when speaking of the nature and names of God. In one of his replies he agrees with Dionysius that God is more unlike any desription of God then like it, and I argued that it must be because He is so far above it, not to the side or below it so to speak

The only one that really bothers me in number 2. Did he really mess up that bad?

We can’t define God, but God can define himself. That’s what Revelation is: God revealing himself. So while we can logically deduce what he is not (and infer from that that he is one in essence and existence, etc.), we can’t name his essence.

  1. He argues (biblehub.com/library/aquinas/nature_and_grace/article_eight_whether_god_enters.htm) that God cannot enter into the composition of things, but don’t these arguments contradict the Incarnation?

God doesn’t enter into the composition of things though. The Incarnation is a union of the divinity of God with humanity, not a mixture of the two. A helpful way of looking at this, for me sometimes at least, is God brought humanity up to him, not himself down to humanity. Obviously by that I mean to say he became man, but didn’t lose his essence and infinity by doing so.

Here’s something that may be enlightening from Edward Feser: Nor does anything about God’s other relations to the world entail that they involve anything other than Cambridge properties. For example, as Davies points out, God’s love for the world is not like our love, which typically springs from some need. God, as purely actual, needs nothing; it is not that He has some lack which He seeks to remedy by creating us or getting us to love Him, which would entail a non-Cambridge change in Him. Rather, God loves us in the sense of willing what is good for us, which He does changelessly. Similarly, God’s knowledge of things is not a matter of coming to know them. Rather, He knows all things by virtue of knowing Himself as timelessly creating them.

  1. He says “therefore it does not follow that a creature is good through
    its essence. The goodness of a creature is not its very essence; it is
    being…” And yet he says “therefore all things are not good by the divine
    goodness but by their own perfection”. And he says that that the
    goodness of something is “superadded” even though it is identical with its being.
    This is all very interesting and I don’t believe inconsistent. Again, any helpful comments?

Goodness comes from God, but a creatures own particular goodness is in relation to its end.

  1. Maybe the answer to 3 needs an answer to this questions first. Aquinas
    says God’s nature is not different from His suppositum, nor His essence
    from His being. Is there a simple way of understanding this?

No. :slight_smile:

Definition has exacting limits, God has no limits, by His nature, He is infinite, unlimited, limitless, eternal. He is more unlike limited, then like it, in other words He isn’t like it at all.but supersedes it

Yes Pseudo-Dionysius and St Gregory the Theologian among others would say that God is beyond being and non-being, beyond existence and non-existence. He is so completely other that no positive statement could ever fully describe God. Of course I imagine St Thomas would agree that doesn’t mean you can’t say things such as God is love and mercy etc. It’s just that we are only fully accurate when we say what God is not.

thinkandmull;12316271]1) Aquinas says of God that “there can be no definition of Him” and that God is so far above any definition (like Love) that He is more unlike the definition than like it. Can anyone explain this further

A definition is a tool that is used to define those things visible. There exist no definition of God for God is Spirit. Faith is the tool used to grasp at those invisible realities from which the visible realities come from.

God has ordained man (Adam) with the gift to name those things visible and the freewill to give the visible things a definition.

God is Love. We only experience love. Moses asked to see God, God only revealed to Moses the tail of His glory. No one can see God’s Essence and live.

God is described not defined as a consuming fire. For man to see God would surely die. Love =God’s love is poured out, God is not an invert, the cosmos give witness to this fact.

God sent His love to create man. Should man see the Essence of Love, that Love would consume love, because the freewill of love given to man could not help itself but to surrender itself with great joy to return to that Love from which it came God Himself. But God is not an invert of Love, thus God sends His love and love proceeds from love.

Interesting that God’s love never returns void back to him. Thus we must die the death first in order to return to God eternally.

Thus God is more unlike the definition of love, when God is Love. We learn of Love, because Love = God first loved us. The definition of love from human terms does not reach God who is Love in pure Essence undefinable, because Love has no beginning or end to which it can be defined in time and space, when Love is Being.

  1. He argues (biblehub.com/library/aquinas/nature_and_grace/article_eight_whether_god_enters.htm) that God cannot enter into the composition of things, but don’t these arguments contradict the Incarnation?

There is no contradiction of the Incarnation, yet the Incarnation becomes a sign of contradiction.

What Aquinas comments about is God’s Essence does not enter into the composition of things. When God’s presence becomes incarnate revealed in the second person of the Trinity in the Son.

It is God’s presence that is revealed in space and time. The Essence (divinity) of God is mysteriously hidden in God’s presence, when the presence of the Father (voice) the Son (logos) and the Holy Spirit reveal God’s presence in space and time. While the Essence of God does not come down to us.

For the Essence of God to enter space and time, all things would be consumed back to His Essence from which all things visible came from the invisible.

  1. He says “therefore it does not follow that a creature is good through
    its essence. The goodness of a creature is not its very essence; it is
    being…” And yet he says “therefore all things are not good by the divine
    goodness but by their own perfection”. And he says that that the
    goodness of something is “superadded” even though it is identical with its being.
    This is all very interesting and I don’t believe inconsistent. Again, any helpful comments?

God creates a creature and calls it good. The good of the creature is not it’s essence, but God calling it good in it’s being.

“therefore all things are not good by the divine goodness but by their own perfection”. All things created are not good because God is good, all things are good because God calls them good in their own perfected state of being.

The example of sacrament when it is added or superadded, although that which became holy via sacrament added, it remains identical with it’s being state, but the goodness of it is superadded.

Aquinas thought supports the Church’s action of exercising reconciliation, baptism, Eucharist, Marriage, Confirmation, Holy Orders and anointing of the Sick, not to exclude making those things holy from the sprinkling of holy water, prayer and incense.

  1. Maybe the answer to 3 needs an answer to this questions first. Aquinas
    says God’s nature is not different from His suppositum, nor His essence
    from His being. Is there a simple way of understanding this?

Not really, because the nature of God in Essence Existing is eternal being, eternities essence does not enter creation, creation derives it’s visible being, existence from the invisible being that has no beginning and no end.

I believe grasping at the difference between God’s presence (that is revealed in creation) and God’s Essence the substance of God’s nature (divinity) which does not come down to us in space and time, can help graduate our faith in reaching into the mysteries of the blessed Trinity of persons, who are all distinct from one another revealed in space and time, remain one God eternally present without definition…

How can God become defined, when God say’s I AM Who AM, or God is everything and anything we need God to be for us to give us eternal life. Thus God the Father send’s His only begotten Son to save us, because we need God to be our Lamb in order to justify and save us from eternal death.

These are just humble comments, that have helped me to reflect and meditate upon the Mysteries of God, which Aquinas simplifies what we can never understand or exhaust by definition God’s Essence being Existence.

Peace be with you

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