Is The Name God Applied To God Univocally By Nature, By Participation, And According To Opinion?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I hope all is going well for you. I want readers to know that I will be away again starting tomorrow night and won’t be back until Monday so don’t expect a blog again after this one until Monday night. Prayers for my safe travels and a great weekend are appreciated. Anyway, we’ve been going through the doctrine of God lately and we’ve been using the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas as our guide and we’re on the topic of the Names of God and on the tenth article in that. Today’s blog title is definitely a mouthful so let’s get to it.

God. We Christians apply great meaning to that name, however, at the same time, I, as a Christian, believe that the name of God is one of the most meaningless names that there is. Now I don’t mean that when I speak of God from the pulpit or in a class or in correspondence with other Christians or debating non-Christians. I mean that from the way that the name is used by others.

In our word today, God means anything and everything. Oprah speaks of God. Deepak Chopra speaks of God. Muslims speak of God. The New Age crowd talks about God. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses talk about God. About the only people who have a real problem with God are atheists, some agnostics, and some that come from more naturalistic religions.

Hence, this is one reason it’s so great to speak about Jesus. When you as a Christian speak about Jesus, more people know about who you are. God can be rather impersonal and abstract in modern terminology. Jesus, on the other hand, is not. Now true, there are some that have a twisted view of even him, but we are on firmer ground.

Aquinas would agree. We are not speaking univocally. When the pagan speaks of God and the Christian speaks of God, different things are meant. However, there are some similarities. For instance, the pagan can speak of a god as the one to whom he owes his highest allegiance. He can speak of him as the creator and sovereign of the world.

The reason the pagan cannot speak of God univocally with the Christian is because the pagan does not know the divine nature. While Aquinas was Aristotlean, he would say the same of Aristotle. Aristotle came about as close as a pagan can to the nature of God without really knowing him. Aristotle’s God, for instance, spent all his time thinking about himself and had no interest in the world.

Thus, the terms are not used univocally. We can have enough similarities that we can have a dialogue, but there are great differences. While the Christian also does not know the divine nature as it is furthermore, he comes the closest. Why? Because unlike the pagan, the Christian has divine revelation from God himself so that we can know him better, this in the form of Scripture and the form of Christ.

We shall continue Monday.

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