Can A Name Be Given To God?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. I hope that by tomorrow night I will have the blog site more updated. We’ve been going through the doctrine of God and right now we’re covering the names of God. The guide for this study has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas which can be found at Newadvent.org if you don’t own your own copy. We’ll start our first night on this with, of course, the first article.

Now in a sense, this is an obvious answer. Of course names can be given to God. We have many names for him, including just calling him God. However, what is meant more is can names be given of him in a truly descriptive sense. This might sound like a strange question, but it is one that the early church dealt with as well.

Can God be given a name truly? The real answer in that sense is no. Names are given by another and they are names given by one who is greater. There is no one greater than God to give him a name and since God does not change, he does not give himself a name either. What we see in the name of YHWH in the OT is that God is the one who exists by necessity of his nature.

But there are ways in which we can give God names. However, these names do not define God but they rather describe him. Words are things that signify something beyond themselves. Each word you see on this blog is not an end in itself. It is an idea meant to point to something beyond itself. This is one of the amazing things about language.

We can use that language to name God based on what we do understand about him and nothing totally captures who he is. If we call him Almighty, then we have not captured his omniscience. Saying he is holy does not capture his power. Saying he is Lord does not speak entirely of his love. All of these give us glimpses simply into who God is. The best name for him is still the one that he used to describe himself to Moses.

Interestingly then, for Aquinas, God is not really Lord in himself. Lord is something that describes God’s relationship to the creation. In this way, he is not really creator in himself. He is the creator of the universe and he is the Lord of the universe but saying such things do not add anything to God. After all, God cannot be added to.

By the use of the name however, we make a statement about who God is in relation to the creation. God is Lord in that he is sovereign over his creation for if there had been no creation, there would have been no one for him to be sovereign over. God is creator in that he is the one who is the efficient cause of the creation. Had there been no creation, he would not be creator.

What more can be found out about the names of God? We shall find out as we continue tomorrow.

Can We Know More About God By Divine Grace?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. I’m still working on figuring out the HTML so give some time and hopefully this site will have the added feature for those who want to give some support to Deeper Waters due to be being blessed by what goes on here. Even if none do, I hope this blog is a blessing to many of you. We’ve been going through the doctrine of God and we’ve been using the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas as our guide. We’ve been answering the question of how God is known by us and we’re going to finish up that question tonight. Starting tomorrow, Lord willing, we’ll be looking at the doctrine of the names of God.

Can we know more about God by divine grace? We’ve already seen that we can know him by natural reason alone, but if God chooses to grace us, can we know more about him? Aquinas says we can. There are some things even that natural reason cannot figure out, such as God being a Trinity.

At the start, let this be a warning to those of us on the philosophical path. It can be tempting to leave out the Bible when we study God. We have an urge to want to know as much about God as we can through natural reason and use that in an attempt to convince the nonbeliever that God is there.

I have jokingly had professors in Seminary start a class with Scripture reading in philosophy and say “This is a Bible. Many of you haven’t seen it in awhile.” Of course, some of us in the class who are humorous will answer and say something like “Is that a new book?”

In the very first question in the Summa, Aquinas tells us that the knowledge of God could be reached by reason alone, but few have the intellectual ability or the commitment to make such a journey. Therefore, in order that more people may be saved, God has revealed himself.

The answer is already there, but God helps some of us to get to the answer by reaching down to us. He doesn’t just leave himself there saying “Well I’ll wait and see how many people can reach me on their own.” Instead, he comes and reaches down for us to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It’s not just salvation, but even knowledge of him.

This can be done through dreams and visions, but most notably this is done in Scripture and in the revelation of Christ. Had God not revealed himself, we would never know that he is three in one. We would also never know the way of salvation as natural reason cannot work out that doctrine.

Thus, we conclude the study of how God is known by us with the good news that he has allowed us to know him and helped us on the way. The apostle Paul spoke to some philosophers one time and said that he is not far from each of us. That still holds today. He is not far.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Can God Be Known By Natural Reason?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. I’m still in the process of updating the site. The work of the HTML on the blog itself is quite difficult. Hopefully that will be up and running before too long. I’m also always open to suggestions on what can be done to improve Deeper Waters. We’re going through the doctrine of God now and we’re using the Summa Theologica. Those who do not have a copy can read it at newadvent.org. We’re studying how God is known by us and we’re on the twelfth article now.

Can God be known by natural reason? In other words, when you’re out in the world and you meet the non-Christian who does not accept the revelation of God in Scripture in anyway, can you use natural reason to show the existence of God at least? Is it possible by philosophical ideas and the study of the world around you to come to the conclusion that God exists.

Something to note is that when these kinds of arguments are given, it’s not necessarily to prove the Christian God. These arguments are necessary for Christianity to be true but not sufficient. After all, God must exist for Christianity to be true, but it could be true that God exists and he’s Allah in Islam. (I do not think for a moment such is true, but the point is there for the sake of argument.)

Aquinas argues that we can know God by natural reason. Now this doesn’t mean we can know all about God. Some things about God cannot be known by natural reason, such as that God is triune or that God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, but some things can and many such things were found by the pagan philosophers before Christ, such as Aristotle.

For Aquinas, there are no a priori ideas. We are not born with knowledge. All our knowledge arises from sense experience. Now sense experience will not get us to see the essence of God, but sense experience will get us to the point where we can better understand the essence of God.

The way of understanding God in Thomistic thought is really not understanding what he is, but understanding what he is not. What is it about God that makes him distinct from his creation to the point that he doesn’t even need to be created? For instance, when we look at divine simplicity, we come to the conclusion that God is not composed.

This was also the evangelistic method that Aquinas held to in his own life. When one was debating the heretic, one could use the New Testament and the Old Testament for even heretics often accepted them as valid. When debating a Jew, one used the Old Testament. When debating a Muslim, reason would be used. Today, there are many other groups we’d add to the list besides Muslims.

Aquinas is also noted as saying that his arguments are not just based in documents of faith but on the reasons and arguments of the philosophers themselves. This is a lesson we need to learn. It does no good to argue with an opponent from what you accept as an authoritative source and he doesn’t. Quoting Scripture will not work on an atheist who doesn’t accept Scripture. Using the arguments of the philosophers themselves is different and it should hopefully if they submit get them to the point that they will submit to Scripture, the ultimate authority.

This isn’t to limit Scripture of course, but to help us see how we should debate with an atheist. If you don’t think so, just consider how effective it is to you when you have the Book of Mormon quoted to you or when you have the Koran quoted to you.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Can Anyone In This Life See God?

Welcome back once more everyone to Deeper Waters. This site is still in the process of being upgraded so that readers can give their support to this ministry. Hopefully everything will be in place by the time we have a post up tomorrow. As it is, we are now going through the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas in order to understand the doctrine of God and we are discussing how God is known by us. If you do not own the Summa, you can go to newadvent.org and read the Summa Theologica online there for free.

Tonight’s question is if anyone in this life can see God. Aquinas does grant one exception at least to this and this is of course by divine grace. Moses was enabled somehow to see God face to face. However, didn’t Jacob also see God face to face?

Aquinas answers no. He saw God in a likeness that did not represent his full glory. Had that been seen, Jacob would not have survived. In this way, seeing Jesus could be seen as seeing God in that Jesus, being fully God, came in the likeness of flesh. That is, the flesh of Jesus was real flesh and it was also a shield to all to keep them from seeing the fully glory that was within that flesh. No one could have seen that in this mortal body and lived.

Aquinas also deals with an interesting argument of Augustine’s called the argument from truth. Truth is something that is greater than us and beyond us, but somehow, truth can be found in finite minds while it itself is not finite. Unchanging truth is found in minds that change. Augustine argues that there must be an unchanging mind that is not finite in which this truth dwells and as Aquinas would say, this everyone knows to be God.

While I believe this argument, of which I’ve given just a brief synopsis, is valid, Aquinas is told that if we see truth and this truth is in God, then it must be the case that we see God somehow. Aquinas disagrees of course. While all truth is in God, it is not in him that we see the truth but rather by him that we see the truth. Aquinas compares it to saying that we see things in this world not by looking at the sun but by the light of the sun. Of course, this will be different in the next life.

The ultimate reason that we cannot see God in this life is because we are in corruptible matter. The things that we see with our eyes are material things. Hence when angels show up, they appear in some material form or else as in the case of Elisha and his servant, ones eyes are altered in such a way that they can see the spiritual realities around them, and we can wonder what it would be like for each of us if we could get a chance to see the spiritual warfare that is going on all around us.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Do We See All In God At Once?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. I’m going to be busy updating the site as much as I can. Bear with me. I love theology and apologetics and philosophy, but I am not any good at computer stuff. The sidebar however should contain relevant information soon as well as a way that readers who value Deeper Waters can do their part to make sure the work of this blog keeps going. Our topic lately has been the doctrine of God and we’ve been using the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas which can be found at newadvent.org. We are studying how God is known by us and we’re about to read the tenth article. The question is if we see all in God at once.

Aristotle is quoted as saying “Many things may be known but only one is understood.” In our way of thinking, we can’t easily focus on two things at once. Some of us, like myself, do tend to multi-task, but as I sit here writing the blog, I’ve turned off everything else, although I can still sometimes have an AIM conversation and check on other web sites.

Will this be the way it is when we get to Heaven and see God however? Will we see him and say “Okay. I understand that. Alright. Now I understand that.” In other words, will we have a succession of understanding or will we understand all things simultaneously?

Augustine has also said that God moves the spiritual creature according to time. Now if the angels don’t see all things in God simultaneously, then surely we can’t expect to see all things in God simultaneously. This is common in Aquinas and something philosophers need to realize. Whatever objections you usually have to a philosophical system, the best philosophers are the ones who have already thought of your objection.

Aquinas answers that in fact we do see all in God at once. When we have a diversity of things that we see, we do not understand all at once. I have two different objects before me let’s suppose. I do not understand them both at once. My mind can go back and forth in understanding.

But how does that change the way we see things in God? Aquinas explains Aristotle by saying that when we see a man, we understand the concept of rational and we understand the concept of animal both in the one man. We can do this because both are contained within the one and we understand the two at once because we understand the one.

Hence, when we see God, we see the ultimate oneness and in that oneness we understand the many. Once again, we find ourselves looking back on the simplicity of God.

But what about angels? Well with regards to how they understand things by their natural knowledge, they do not understand all things at once. When they look at God however, they do understand all things at once.

The conclusion is that when we see God, we will indeed understand all things at once. The way to know everything is to know God.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Do We See All Things In God?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the doctrine of God now, highly important in Christianity after all, and our guide for this has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. You can read this online if you go to newadvent.org and click on Summa. Before that, I wish to share my prayer requests. First, I ask that you pray for my Christlikeness that I will realize the truth that is right before me. Second, I ask for prayer with my financial situation. Finally, I ask for your prayers in a third related area in my life. For now, let’s get to the text.

We already found out that we can’t comprehend God when we see him, but can we see all things in him? In other words, will we know all other things even if we don’t know God? After all, God is simple and in him is the ground of all beings and if we can know ourselves in him, why not everything else?

Yet what are we told about the angels? The angels are said to see God, but they do not know all things. Why should we be different? Indeed, we shouldn’t be. Once again, we find the reason we cannot do so is not because of a deficiency in God, for there can be no such thing, but rather it is because we are created and finite creatures and we cannot begin to grasp all things.

I say that we know all things as much as we have had a longing for truth. Many of us today do not have such a longing. We want other things. We want pleasure, money, sex, fame, success, and these are all good and fine things in themselves, but how many of us really want truth?

Many objections to Christianity can come on only a practical level. Now Christianity works on a practical level, but it is not proven untrue there as its claim is a historical one and it must be disproved on historical grounds. Of course, one could set up a disproof of God’s existence and this would be a strange world then if we had reason to believe Jesus was raised from the dead and God didn’t exist, but I digress.

When we become people of truth, we won’t want to believe something just because we like or don’t like it. We will believe it because it is true. In our politically correct world unfortunately, you can speak of a generality about people of a certain sex or ethnicity and you’re automatically assumed to be sexist or racist because that offends people. Well sometimes it could be offensive, but it could also be true, and we need to ask the question of truth before that of offense.

When giving truth also, we need to remember that truth is on the line. Sometimes, we can get too afraid we’ll hurt someone’s feelings. If you’re giving them the gospel, you should expect that. Do you feel good when you realize that you’re a sinner? None of us like that, but that’s part of the gospel. There’s bad news and it’s news you don’t want to hear, but you need it so you can hear the good news, which is also truth.

Therefore, let us be people of truth today. Let us further seek it tomorrow, so that we will have more enjoyment of it in eternity.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Do Those Who See God Comprehend Him?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the doctrine of God lately and our guide for this has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. Those who do not own a copy of this fine work can go to newadvent.org and read it online. We are studying the doctrine of how God is known by man. Before we get to that, I wish to present my usual prayer requests. First, I ask for prayers for my Christlikeness in especially that I will realize the truth in all things. Second, I ask for prayers for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for prayers for a third related area of my life. For now, let’s get to the question.

Do those who see God comprehend him? This is something many of us have wondered about eternity. After all, we are told that we will see God, but we wonder what exactly we will see. We are told that we will see him as he is. Add in to this that God is simple as we have seen. It would seem then that we cannot see part of God simply because he has no parts. The conclusion would seem to be then that we can comprehend God.

However, if we can comprehend God, then it would seem that we do not have an infinite God. Will it be that when we come we will see God as he is and then be able to know everything about him and thus be able to say “Well, that’s certainly interesting that that is the way that God is.”

Aquinas doesn’t think we will comprehend God. I agree with him. We do know God is simple and so there can be no parts to him. However, we also know that God is infinite and we by nature are finite beings. If we were made to be infinite, we would have to be creatures without limits. If we were creatures without limits, then we would have to have the other important aspects that are prerequisites for infinity, such as being simple, perfect, and immutable.

Thus, we see God as much as it is that we can understand him. If we comprehended him, we would be saying that our intellect is equal to his being, which is impossible. The problem again is not on God for God is the most knowable of all and infinitely knowable. We just have a finite knowledge and we can only know God finitely.

This also presents a problem for the Mormon concept of deity as in Mormonism, God was once a man and he eventually became God. I would hope that readers who have been reading up to this point, and I hope you will keep reading beyond this point have seen the problems with this as man would have to become an uncreated being, which is impossible. All creation will ultimately always have limits upon it by nature.

We shall continue our study of the doctrine of God tomorrow.

Do All See God Equally?

Hello everyone. Welcome back to the blog of Deeper Waters where we are continuing our dive into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the doctrine of God and our guide has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. We are studying how God is known by us and if you want to follow along, you can do so at newadvent.org. Before we get to that, I have my prayer requests. First, for my continued Christlikeness and that that will be what I truly do want. Second, I ask for prayers for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for your prayers in a third related area in my life.

This is a question that we’re going to spend a lot of time on with application. Any capacity we have to see God as has been said previously is granted to us by grace. However, many of us get different measures of grace. Now we’re all equally forgiven. That is not being brought into question.

However, we also all do act differently with the grace we have in our lives and we’re day by day either becoming more accustomed to the kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of darkness. What we do after salvation does matter. I’m not going to get into eternal security. That’s a secondary debate. However, it is no debate that what we do in this life matters and when we make Christ our Lord, that ought to make a difference in the way that we live.

What we are to do with our lives is to learn to seek the things of Heaven. When we do that, we are preparing ourselves to be greater recipients of the blessing of God. We are opening ourselves up to who he is and coming to know him more and the more we come to know him, the more he can reveal himself to us.

What keeps that from happening now is that we act in a way that we either say we want or don’t want him. It is not a failure on God’s part however if we do not come to him and seek him all the more. It is a failure on our part. God simply guides us step by step and he will lead us as we come to the light that we have.

This is a problem I have with so many atheists that seem to think that God should personally appear to them in some way. Now not all atheists do this I realize, but some do. It is a most unrealistic demand. I would hope I have lived a good Christian life, but I have not come anywhere near that experience. I cannot think of anyone, including many I know far more saintly than I am, which would include several, who has.

So Christian, what are you doing in your life today? Are you preparing yourself for the seeing of God? When you get there, you will realize that ultimately, that was the most worthwhile thing to do. This is not a call to asceticism, but rather it is a call to have God be the most important factor in every aspect of our lives.

We shall continue this tomorrow.

Do We Need Created Light To See God?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters as we continue our dive into the ocean of truth hoping to find some pearls of wisdom. We’ve been going through the doctrine of God and our guide has been Thomas Aquinas and his work, the Summa Theologica. Readers who do not own a copy of this great work are invited to go to newadvent.org and read along as we study the question of how God is known by man. Before we begin our question tonight, I wish to present my prayer requests. First off, I ask for your prayers for my Christlikeness as I learn to appreciate better the joys around me. Second, I ask for your prayers for my finances. Finally, I ask for prayers for a third related area in my life. For now, let’s get to the blog.

We’ve been discussing just how it is that man will behold God one day and we have determined that man will indeed see God and he will see him as he is. ¬†However, we have also determined that no man or even an angel for that point will be able to see God by his natural powers alone. ¬†Tonight, we’re going to ask if any created light is needed in order for man to see God.

Aquinas says however that our natures as they are are too weak in order to see God. We must be raised up in order to just be capable of this exalted experience. In order for this to take place, the power of understanding must be in some way illuminated by the grace of God so that man will behold God in his nature.

However, isn’t God understandable as he is? If that is the case, why do we need light to understand that which is understandable? In fact, if we’re using Aquinas’s thought, God is the one who we can know the most about as truth is his very nature and something is knowable insofar as it is actual. God is the most actual, therefore he is the most knowable.

The problem with this objection is that the error does not lie in the being of God but in the being of man. It does not matter how bright the room you are in is if you are blind. We approach God the same way as we are blinded, not by darkness but rather by the finitude of our being.

But didn’t we say earlier that God is not seen through a likeness but is rather seen as he is. If this light is needed to see God, then it would seem that he is seen through a likeness. However, the light is not that through which God is seen but by which he is seen. The light enables our intellect to see God. We do not see through it but rather with it.

The conclusion then is that we will need the assistance of divine grace to see God and that will come in the broadening of our intellect in such a way that we will finally be able to see him as he is. Once again, we are reminded, or should be at least, of how awesome our God is and that we should look forward with joy to the day we will see him.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Can Any Created Intellect See God By Nature?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Namely, we’re diving into the truth of God. We’re going through the doctrine of God now little by little. Our guide has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. We’re asking the question now of how God is known by us and tonight’s post will actually not be about us explicitly. For those who do not own a copy of the Summa, it can be read online at newadvent.org. Before that, my prayer requests. First off, continued Christlikeness. At this point, I’m talking to a friend now related the need to release a critical attitude. Second, for my financial situation. Finally, for a third related area in my life. Let’s get to the question for now.

We know we can’t see God by our natural powers, but what about angels. Can They? Angels are said to know themselves and insofar as they are they are reflections of the divine beauty. If that is the case, then surely we can make a case that the angels can see God by nature.

Once again, we have gone through these in order and Thomas reminds us that no one sees God by a likeness. If the angels are only beholding a reflection however by the natural powers of knowledge that they possess, then they are not seeing God as he is. Thus, an angel does not see God in this way.

But angels are creatures without defect aren’t they? (For the time being, we are not thinking of the fallen angels.) The reason man does not see God is because he is a fallen creature isn’t it? If that is the case, then since angels are creatures without defect, and a defect would be the inability to see God, then it would seem that an angel can see God.

Now it is true that an angel does possess all the perfections that are fitting for its being, and in that sense it is without defect. However, it is defective in that it is a creature and has privations in the sense that it does not possess the full nature of God. It is lacking in that way.

Why is it that an angel cannot see God? We will start this by looking at ourselves. Our eyes can only take in corporeal things. If I see the proposition 2 + 2 = 4, by my eyesight alone, I can only see lines written on a page. It is when I begin using my intellect that I begin reading a message that is in the text.

However, once I get my intellect engaged, and my intellect is not corporeal, then I can begin to see truths that are abstract. I cannot see the truth of 2 + 2 = 4 with my corporeal eyes for the truth is not corporeal. I apprehend it with my mind however. We can only know something by the mode.

Something can only be known by the mode of the knower. The physical eye can only see physical objects. The intellect cannot grasp by its nature that which is superior to it. Since God is the most superior of all, then if man is to see God, or if angel is for that matter, then it will only be by the grace of God.

We shall continue tomorrow.