Are There Ideas Of All That God Knows?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the Ocean of Truth. We’re going through the doctrine of God now and we’re using the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, the great medieval theologian, philosopher, and apologist as our guide. If you do not own a copy, you can read it online at Tonight, we’re going to finish up the section on ideas. Let’s go to the question.

Aquinas brings up tonight the term exemplar. What does this mean? In the Aristotlean mindset, there were four causes. The material cause was what something was made of. The formal cause was what it is. The efficient cause was what brought it into being. The final cause was the reason for its being.

The medieval theologians added two more causes. The instrumental cause was that through which something came into existence. The exemplar cause, which is what Aquinas is speaking of, is that after which something comes into existence. He does not mean after as in chronology, but after as in the basis for it. The blueprints of a house are the exemplar cause of the house for instance.

In this way, the forms are the exemplar cause of all that is. God is the efficient cause of what he creates, but the exemplar cause are the ideas in the mind of God. We could even say that the Son is the wisdom of God allegorically and thus the Son is the instrumental cause of creation.

An objection comes up at this point however. What about evil. If there are exemplar causes for all that God knows, does that mean that there is a form of evil? God does know things that are evil, but it is said that he himself does not know evil. How can this be if there are ideas of all that God knows?

I hope some of you are thinking this through and are already seeing the solution. God does not know evil as a substance but rather he knows evil in the way he knows the lack of goodness. There is no idea of evil because evil is not a substance but rather a lack in a substance.

Since this is the case, this does not mean that there is an idea of evil but rather God knows evil as it is a likeness. It tries to resemble that which is good in a sense but it does not. It is parallel to the way we describe God. We best describe him by what he is not. We know evil only by what it is not. There can be no such thing as pure evil.

Our application is that all things are good because God created them. It is when they are twisted from what they were that they become evil or if they are used in a way that is not intended. While the environmental movement I do believe does go too far, we should celebrate the diversity of life that God has created and in doing so, we honor him.

Tomorrow, we shall start the study on truth.

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