Saturday, October 01, 2005


This photo was taken at my parents' home in Jackson, Mississippi in the summer of 2004. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Notes on Summa Question 22: the Providence of God

Question 22.1: Whether Providence Can Suitably Be Attributed to God?


All that is good in creation was created by God. This good includes the order of things toward their end.

God is the cause of things by His intellect and the type of every effect pre-exists in Him.

Thus, the type of the order of things toward their end exists in the divine mind--and that is what we call providence.

Question 22.1: Whether Everything is Subject to the Providence of God?


There are two key objections.

First, common opinion holds that there are such things as luck and chance, whereas if God foresees everything then luck and chance do not really exist.

Second, the fact that there is evil in the world seems to indicate either that God is not omnipotent or else He is not in charge of everything (in which case, He must leave some things outside His providence, i.e., to chance).

Thomas answers by asserting that every agent acts with an end in mind, and the ordering of effects toward that end extends as far as the causality of the agent extends.

In reply to the first objection, Thomas distinguishes between universal and particular causes. All particular causes are under the universal cause, i.e., God.

In reply to the second objection, Thomas relies on Augustine's answer to the problem of evil: the only reason that God permits evil is to bring good from the evil. (One might think, for example, of how Jesus acted when he heard that his friend Lazarus was ill. Jesus permitted Lazarus to die -- a death that Jesus himself wept over -- and after four days raised Lazarus from the dead

Notes on Summa Question 21

Question 21.3: Whether Mercy Can Be Attributed to God?


It would seem not, since mercy is a relaxation of justice--and God cannot be unjust.

In fact, God's mercy transcends justice without violating it. "Mercy exalteth itself beyond judgment." James 2:13.

For example, a man who owes another 100 coins and repays 200 coins shows liberality or mercy, not injustice. The same is true of one who forgives another. ForGIVEness costs the giver something. Per Kreeft, God's mercy expresses itself in forgiveness. God's forgiveness of our sins cost God the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.

Question 21.4: Whether in Every Work of God There Are Mercy and Justice?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Summa Question 21: the Justice of God

Question 21.1: Whether There is Justice in God?


There are two kinds of justice. The first, "commutative justice," consists of mutual giving and receiving. This kind of justice does not belong to God.

The second kind of justice consists in distribution -- "distributive justice." It is the justice of the steward who gives each what his rank deserves. That is the justice that God exercises in governing the universe.

Question 21.2 Whether the Justice of God Is Truth?


Truth is the equation of mind and thing.

For us, our minds receive knolwedge from things, and truth is the equation of our minds with things. "For according as a thing is, or is not, our thougts or words about it are true or false."

But for God, God's mind is the rule and measure of things, and truth is the equation of a thing with God's mind. "[T]he work of an artist is said to be true, when it is in accordance with his art."

As works of art are related to the art, so are works of justice related to the law with which they accord. God's justice establishes things in an order according to the rule of His wisdom, and that justice is appropriately called truth.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Notes on Summa Question 20: God's Love

Question 20.1: Whether Love Exists in God?

Yes, "God is love." 1 John 4:16.

It would seem that there is not love in God since love is a passion, and in God there is no passion.

Yet it has been shown elsewhere that will is in God, and love is the first movement of the will; thus love exists in God.

Love is the first act of the will and appetite, and all appetite movements presuppose love as their root and origin.

Without love, there could be no will or appetite.

Insofar as love is connected to a bodily change, it is a passion. But insofar as love is connected to an intellective appetite, it is not a passion.

God loves without passion.

Question 20.1 Whether God Loves All Things?


It would seem that God does not love all things, since the Psalm states that He "hates all the workers of iniquity."

God loves all existing things.

Everything that exists is, insofar as it exists, good, since the existence of a thing is itself good.

God's will is the cause of all existing things. It must be, then, that God wills good to all existing things.

Since to love anything is nothing else than to will good to that thing, it is manifest that God loves everything that exists.

Neverthelss, God does not love in the same way that we love.

When we love, we will that the object of our love preserve the goodness that it has and receive goodness that it does not have; yet our willing it does not cause this goodness to come about.

When God loves, His love infuses and creates goodness.

Kreeft note: God is pure act, without potentiality, and therefore without being caused or moved by other things. "God does not fall in love for the same reason that water does not get wet."

In response to the objection, a thing may be loved under one aspect and hated under another. God loves sinners insofar as they are existing natures whom He created and maintains in existence. But insofar as they are sinners, they lack existence, and in this aspect they are hated by God.

Question 20.1 Whether God Loves All Things Equally?


Since to love a thing is to will it good, a thing can be loved more or loved less in two ways: by more or less intensity of the will or by more or less good that is willed.

Since God's will is one, simple and unchanging, the reason that God loves things unequally is not that His love is more or less intense depending on the object.

We know that God loves things unequally because there is greater good in some things than in others, and God is the cause of good. God wills more good for some things than for others.

Question 20.4 Whether God Always Loves More the Better Things?


As above, the reason that some things are better than others is that God wills for them a greater good. Since love is to will the good of another, it follows that God loves more the better things.

Regarding man and angels, from the fact that God became a man and not an angel it does not follow that God loves man more than angels. Man's needs were greater than the angels' needs.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Notes on Summa Question 23.5, 23.7 and 23.8

Question 23.5 Whether the Foreknowledge of Merits Is the Cause of Predestination?


Predestination has its foundation in the goodness of God, not in God's foreknowledge of the good works a man will do.

"Not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." -- Titus 3:5.

As God saved us, so He predestined that we should be saved.

Some have argued that God gives grace to someone because God knows that the person will make good use of it, so that it could be said that God's foreknowledge of the person's merits is the cause of God's predestination of that person.

In fact, both grace and free will can operate together as causes. What is of grace is the effect of predestination, not the reason of predestination.

Question 23.7 Whether the Number of Predestined Is Certain?

Only God knows the number of those for whom is reserved eternal happiness.

Question 23.8 Whether Predesintation Can Be Further By the Prayers of the Saints?

No in one way, yes in another.

Nothing that any man can do (including prayer) can alter the divine preordination.

Yet predestination is fulfilled by means of prayers (including the prayers of the saints) and good works.

"Labor the more that by good works you may make sure your calling and election." 2 Peter 1:10.

Kreeft note: "Prayer changes things." Prayer does not change God, but it changes things and people. The reason to pray is not to change God's will, but to fulfill it. It is the same reason as the reason to work.

Notes on Summa Theologicae (Summa) Questions 23.1 and 23.3

I am studying St. Thomas Aquinas this summer by studying Peter Kreeft's Summa of the Summa. In this volume, Kreeft reprints key aticles of St. Thomas' Summa theologicae and annotates them for beginning students of philosophy and theology. My plan is to publish on LKL my own notes as I make my way through the volume. Rather than begin at the beginning, I have decided to study the Summa topically, starting with those topics that interest me the most. Topic 1 is salvation.

Question 23: On Predestination

I. Whether Men Are Predestined by God?


All things are subject to God’s providence.

It belongs to providence to direct things toward their end.

One end toward which God directs created things is eternal life. (Q. 12.4)

Created things cannot direct themselves to eternal life, since it is beyond the power of their nature.

Therefore they are directed by another, as an arrow is directed toward its end by an archer.

A rational creature is directed, i.e. led toward, eternal life by God.

III. Whether God Reprobates (Damns) Any Man?


It cannot be that God reprobates a man in the same way that God predestines a man, since Scripture says otherwise.

But it is part of God’s providence to permit some men to fall away from the end of eternal life.

Reprobation differs in its causality from predestination.

By predestination, God saves the saved. By reprobation, God permits the damned to damn themselves.