Are There Any Accidents in God?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re looking at the doctrine of God and using the Summa Theologica as our guide which can be found at for those who don’t own a copy of the Summa. We’re studying the doctrine of God’s simplicity. Before that though, I wish to present my usual prayer requests. First off, I sincerely hope you all are praying for my Christlikeness. I become more aware of my fallen nature every day. Second, I ask your prayers for my finances. Third, I ask prayers for the third related area in my life. For now, let’s look at Simplicity.

What is an accident? Many of us might think of two cars suddenly crashing when one loses control. Well in modern parlay, that can be considered an accident, but when it comes to philosophical language, the term accident means something different.

An accident is something that a thing possesses and it in no way affects the substance of the thing. It could lose that thing or have that thing taken away without changing the thing itself. So is there anything in God that he could lose and he would still be God? Is there anything that could be added to him and he could still be God?

One argument is that there are things that are in God that are also in us and they are accidents for us. Wisdom and power for us are accidents, but in God, they are attributes. The necessary idea is that they must be accidents in God as well.

Aquinas will expand on this later, but his main point is that these are not accidents in God because we are understanding them in a univocal sense, that is, in the same way. We do not possess wisdom the way God possesses it. It is not that we get more wisdom and eventually we have God-wisdom. God possesses wisdom by nature whereas we possess it by gift.

An accident is something that has potential as well. It can be or not be in the thing. For God however, there can be no potential. Because of this, it is the case for an accident makes something actual in the very substance of the thing. The accident of laughing makes man a creature capable of laughing.

If God has something added to his essential being, then he is being + something and that constitutes a change. If he has something that can be taken away, then that means he has something that is non-essential to his being. There would be parts of being and that has already been ruled out by saying that God is his essence and his own being. Being is absolutely simple and has no parts.

All that is God is essential to him and he possesses nothing non-essential. Well what about the incarnation? God did not take on human nature. The second person of the Trinity did, but the essence of deity did not. Jesus was and is a person who happened to be fully God and fully human as well without mixing the natures.

So is God altogether simple then? That’s what we shall ask tomorrow.

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