Can Affirmative Propositions Be Formed About God?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the Ocean of Truth. First off, I wish to send a thanks to a kind reader who made a donation to Deeper Waters Christian Ministries. It is appreciated. It is my hopes that someday that will be a ministry with more than just a blog but a website as well. Getting back to the blog, we are going through the doctrine of God now and using the Summa Theologica as our guide. This can be read at We are asking the question now of if affirmative propositions can be formed about God.

Aquinas answers that they can. While we have said much of the via negativa, that does not mean that for Aquinas, the only things we can know about God is what he is not. In fact, we’ve been affirming quite a lot about him in this blog. Aquinas also knows that much of what we can know about God is found in Scripture, contrary to those who might think only philosophy was the guide of the medievals. (I recall a philosophy professor who opened up class reading the Bible and reminding students what that book was. It’s easy to lose sight of as a philosophy major.) Aquinas had a high view of Aristotle, but he had a higher view of Scripture. We should follow likewise.

Aquinas says there are some things we know through diverse ideas. For instance, man was defined by Aristotle as “rational animal.” We see that man is an animal in that he is a sensible being who relies on sense experience. However, he is also a rational animal in that he can take what comes through sense experience and draw inferences from it and make judgments.

Those two are quite diverse. However, both of them apply to humans. Even accidents can apply to humans. For instance, you could say that brown-haired applies to me. That could change one day. When what is said in the predicate truly fits the subject, then we can say that something has been affirmed.

This must happen with God in some way according to Aquinas. We do know that God is simple and yet we know that we affirm many diverse things about him. We affirm that he is good and true and beautiful for instance. What is important for us as good theologians is that we realize that while we affirm many diverse conceptions about God, this is because of a lack of understanding on our part.

That is something we must grasp. We need to realize that what we know intellectually we need to live out emotionally and spiritually. For instance, I know intellectually that God is in control. However, in practice, this is a difficult system to live out. Aquinas would probably say then that what needs to be done at this point is to realize the intellectual truth and that we must keep moving forward to that and not live in such a way as to give in to what we know to be false.

It is a work in progress, but it is part of becoming like Christ.

Tomorrow, we shall start looking at God’s knowledge.

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