Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the Summa Theologica in an attempt to get at a deeper understanding of the knowledge of God. Those who do not have a copy lying around, though I wish everyone did, can read it at newadvent.org. First, I ask for your prayers for my Christlikeness. There are several facets of my person that need to be worked out. Second, I ask for prayers for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for your prayers for a third related area in my life.
We’re talking about the doctrine of God’s simplicity. We answered yesterday if God has a body or not and decided he doesn’t. Today, we’re going to be discussing if he has any matter in him at all. Interestingly, one of the points that is brought up is that God gets angry in Scripture. Anger, however, requires a body. It wasn’t until modern philosophy came along with Descartes that we began thinking otherwise. Anger is always a response to something. It is because of X, that one is angry.
Thomas gives an answer that surprises us today but we will touch on more later on. Thomas says that God doesn’t get angry but the outcome of his justice is likened to that of an angry person. The effects are similar so this is to be taken in a metaphorical way. This is the doctrine of God’s impassibility. It means that God does not experience emotions. I will warn readers in advance that this is a position that I hold to, but I will be speaking more on it later.
Also, Aquinas speaks of that which is composed of matter and form, which is the question. All such goods are composite goods and because they are composite, then they are received. For Aquinas however, God does not receive good. Rather, God is his goodness, which is something we will look to later. Aquinas has a section on goodness in general and goodness in God.
There are also all the objections that were raised based on the question of if God has a body and these all apply here. If there was any matter in God, then God would be a being who would have potential and would be capable of change. Now there are some Christians who do believe God can change. When we get to the topic of God’s immutability, another doctrine that I hold to, we will examine that further. One thing we’ll find as we go through this is that Thomas is very systematic in his thinking and arranges the doctrines in this order for a reason.
Now I can see one possible objection being raised also. Someone might say “You just did a whole series on the Trinity! Didn’t your God take on a body? How can he not be material then? I can understand where the objector is coming from, but I think he’s wrong on numerous accounts.
To begin with, it is not the Trinitarian claim that God took on a body. The second person of the Trinity who is fully God in nature took on human nature which includes having a human body. The Father has never been embodied nor has the Spirit.
Also, even for the second person of the Trinity, the body is not essential to his deity. If he is to become human and remain human, it is essential that he be embodied. I do believe we can be separated from our bodies, but we are not complete without our bodies, such as we have an inability to express emotions.
This also answers the objection of “God can’t die!” God never did. The second person of the Trinity was separated from his body. He never ceased to exist however, as Colossians says when it says that by him all things exist. If he ceased to exist, so would all things. Thus, the Son never ceased to exist even though he tasted death.
Thus, I don’t think that objection holds water.
We shall continue tomorrow looking at divine simplicity.