Whether The Essence of God Can Be Seen With The Bodily Eye

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. We’ve been studying the doctrine of God right now and we’re on the question of how God is known by man. Our guide for this study has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. If you do not own a copy, and I do hope many of you are going to invest in one, you can read it online at newadvent.org. Before we get to tonight’s question, I’d like to mention my prayer requests. First off, continued Christlikeness, and I am pleased thinking of the way it does seem my thought life is changing and I hope that continues. Second, my finanical situation. Finally, I ask for prayers for a third related area in my life.

Can God be seen by the bodily eye? After all, while Aquinas has said we can know God, it is not enough to say that. We need to know how we can know God. ┬áBut won’t we see God with our bodies? Isn’t that what Job 19:26 says? In our flesh, we will see God? Aquinas says it’s not as simple as that and we should agree.

When we consider the text of this passage, (Yes everyone. Philosophers, medievals, and thus medieval philosophers can read the Bible) it does say that in our flesh we will see God, but it does not say that BY our flesh, we will see God. The passage is instead an affirmation of the faith of Job saying that he will live to see another life and in that other life, he will see God. He does not say how he will see God.

But do we not have appearances of God in the Old Testament? What about the many times where someone is said to see God? Indeed, if readers remember our Trinitarian commentary, we looked at those verses. We did indeed affirm that in some sense, God was seen, however, we have to affirm what sense that was.

Every time we concluded that it wasn’t God in his full nature being seen. After all, John 1:18 says that no one has seen God. We instead stated that it was an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ who has the nature of God. In this case, God is seen through something else in the sense that in our bodily flesh as it is, we could not see God.

The ultimate question however is to ask why it is we cannot see God with our bodies. I hope many of you are having your theological minds turning already and have thought of the conclusion. Our bodies are great with their senses of getting data about sensible objects. God is not a sensible object however and our quest has been to find God by what he is not more often.

How will we see in our bodies? That is something that is to be addressed later on, but it is apparent that we will have to have some sort of transformation, perhaps that which comes about in the resurrection when we have new and glorified bodies, so that we may see he who is.

We shall continue tomorrow.

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