Today’s Aquinas: Why is the Word the Son of the Father?

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We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In this Chapter Thomas continues building up a model of the Trinity in Aristotelian terms.  I must note that this is not the definitive model of the Trinity; as Augustine famously noted, the Trinity is a mystery that we cannot encompass.  But it's a way of thinking about the Trinity that Thomas found spiritually useful.He continues from the previous chapter, i … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: Conceiving an Idea vs. Conceiving a Child

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We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the last chapter Thomas explained that God's knowledge of Himself can be called His "Word"; and since His intellect is the same as His essence, His Word must necessarily be in Him rather than apart from Him.What is contained in the intellect, as an interior word, is by common usage said to be a conception of the intellect.As contained in the mind we r … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: What is the Word of God?

ThomasAquinas

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the last chapter, Thomas concluded the purely philosophical part of his discussion of God; now we move on to the Trinity, and specifically to the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God.  As we’ll find, Thomas doesn’t regard that title, “Word”, as purely symbolic, but as reflecting a deep truth about the nature of the Trinity.The Trinity is a murky su … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: How Far Toward God Can We Reason?

ThomasAquinas

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the preceding  thirty-five chapters, Thomas has been addressing natural theology, reasoning about God in the Aristotelian manner from first principles and what we can observe about the world around us: The truths about God thus far proposed have been subtly discussed by a number of pagan philosophers, although some of them erred concerning these matters. And t … [Read more...]

How the Mind Ascends to God

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Recently I've been talking about the rationality of Christian (and specifically Catholic) belief in God, and how one's mind can begin to ascend to the reality of God.  It's an imperfect ascent; God is infinite, and human reason, even at its best, is both weak and finite; but with God's help it is possible.Thomas begins, as Aristotle does, by reflection on the world around us.  He takes for granted the existence of objective reality, and our ability to perceive and grasp it directly, or in o … [Read more...]

My Road to Catholic Belief

Mountain Highway

Last week I explained why there is no magic bullet for belief, no simple, straightforward argument that will compel belief in the Christian God.  This raises some questions: how do believers come to believe in Christianity?  And how can Christian belief be rational absent such proofs?First, most Christians come to belief experientially.  Some are taught as children, and later reach out to accept what God has for them: they "taste and see that the Lord is good," as scripture has it.  Others co … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: Natural Theology in a Nutshell

ThomasAquinas

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Chapter 35 of Thomas’ Compendium Theologiae is a nutshell summary of everything that has gone before: From all the details of doctrines thus far discussed, we can gather that God is one, simple, perfect, and infinite, and that He understands and wills. All these truths are assembled in a brief article of our Creed, wherein we profess to believe “in one God, almig … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: No Magic Bullets for Belief

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Occasionally I'm asked what arguments I have that prove that Christianity is true, as if there were a perfect argument for the Christian God so lucid in its rationality that the most hardened atheist could not help but accept it after a few moments' perusal.  (I exaggerate, but, I think, not by much.)  The trouble is, there is no such argument for any proposition, of any kind, in any field.  The closest we come is basic plane geometry, in the field of mathematics, where all reasonable people can … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: The Will is in the Willing

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We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Thomas has shown that God has a divine will, and that His will is the same as His intellect.  His next move is more of the same:Hence it is also clear that the divine will is the very act of willing in God. As has been pointed out, God’s will is identical with the good willed by Him. But this would be impossible if His willing were not the same as His will; fo … [Read more...]


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