Is God The Highest Good?

Hello everyone and welcome to Deeper Waters. Tonight, put on your scuba gear again for we are continuing our plummet into the ocean of truth. We’re going through the doctrine of God and we’re talking about the goodness of God. Our guide on the journey is Thomas Aquinas using his Summa Theologica. A copy of that can be found at I wish to offer my prayer requests before we begin. First, I ask for prayers for my Christlikeness. I have found I tend to be self-conscious lately, when I need to be other-conscious, especially Christ-conscious. Second, I ask for prayers for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for prayers for a third related area in my life to both of these.

Our question tonight. Is God the highest good? One objection will be that goodness seems to add something to God, but God is simple as has been shown. However, if we say he is good, then have we not added this to his being?

What about goodness being included in a genus? Doesn’t that put God on the comparison level? Are we not then saying that God can be compared to other things? All we have going on is a comparison game.

Basically then, we’re coming back to simplicity and asking if this goes against the simplicity of God. Of course, Thomas is going to say no and the way he explains this is by telling how we do God-talk properly.

One way we can talk about anything is univocally. If I say that my Dad is a man and I say that I am a man, I mean man in the same way. Now we are different men, but the idea of man hasn’t changed meaning. Whenever you use a word and it has one meaning throughout, that is univocal language.

The second way is equivocal language. Equivocal language would be like saying “I am going to deposit my money in the bank” and “I am going to go by the bank of the river.” Bank in that sense means two different things. Thus, equivocal is when you use the same word and it has two different meanings.

The last way is analogical language. Imagine writing out on a sheet of paper “2 + 2 = 4.” Now you can say “I see that” and when you say that, you mean you see the proposition written on the sheet of paper is visible to your eyes. However, you could also say “I see that” and you mean that you see with your mind that 2 + 2 = 4. See has different meanings, but there’s also a similarity to them, which is what analogical language is.

That’s how Aquinas answers the objection. God is a greater good not by degree than we are but by kind. You cannot add more and more goodness to us and get the goodness of God. This is something we need to realize. God is not a superman. You do not take our qualities and add them up and lo and behold, there’s God! He is altogether unique. Thus, he is the highest good not by comparison but by degree.

Also, goodness does not add to being. Goodness is a relation. We say God is good not in the sense that goodness is added but that he is what goodness itself depends upon. In the same way, God is knowable because the existence of knowledge is only possible because there is a God who exists.

Thus, we start to see more as we go along why simplicity is so important and why Aquinas started there. We shall see more of why he’s taken the route he has in the Summa as we continue tomorrow.

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