Is God Alone Essentially Good?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we continue diving into the Ocean of Truth. We’re going through the Summa Theologica where we are studying the doctrine of God. For those who do not have this fine work of Thomas Aquinas, you’re free to go to We’re right now studying the goodness of God. Before we begin, I wish to present my prayer requests. First, I ask for prayers in Christlikeness and I have seen the change again as I am working on overcoming some inhibitions and embracing all of life as Christ would have us do. Second, I ask for prayers with finances. Finally, I ask for prayers in a third related area in my life.

Is God alone essentially good? Aquinas has some objections to this. First off, haven’t we said goodness is just another way of understanding being? If goodness and being are really the same, then it seems that all beings are essentially good simply by virtue of the fact that they are beings.

Also, if good is what is desired, then the being of each thing is its good. However, everything is a being essentially, therefore everything is essentially good.

Finally, if something is not essentially good, then its goodness must come from something else. However, we cannot have an infinite regress and in order to do that then, we must have everything be good essentially.

I hope astute readers who have been paying attention to our doctrine of being thus far are already making the connections and seeing the problems.

Aquinas of course says that to God alone belongs the property of being essentially good. After all, God is the ultimate perfection and there is nothing lacking in him and he is goodness by his very nature. Of course, some of you might be wondering what is the answer to the objections. Why aren’t all other beings the same way?

The objections are ignoring that God alone is not just essentially good but essentially being. God is what we call a necessary being. It is impossible for him by nature to not be. If God was not, nothing else would be. This is one reason good metaphysics is so important. When you understand more of the doctrine of being, you see why the existence of God is so important and how nothing else exists necessarily by its own nature.

This is also why Spinoza can be seen as a challenge to Aquinas as he equated God with the universe and had everything necessary. Of course, I believe the Thomistic thought can triumph over Spinoza, but it is still a challenge that we ought not neglect. Every philosopher should rise to defend the philosophy that he embraces.

Thus, we conclude that other beings aren’t beings essentially but beings by participation. In the same way, they are not good essentially then but good by participation. Insofar as they have being, they are good essentially, but that being that they have is not essential but contingent. The answer to the third objection should be obvious then. You end the infinite regress by a being who is good essentially and not by participation, namely God.

We shall continue this doctrine tomorrow.

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