Welcome again all readers and greetings to those as well who are reading via the medium of TheologyWeb. I welcome people with comments to also come to TheologyWeb and join in the fun as I hope we have many lively debates started on relevant topics. Tonight, we continue our look at the most relevant topic of all, the doctrine of God. Our guide for our study has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas which can be read for free at newadvent.org. Tonight, we’re going to continue our study of the love of God by asking if God loves all things equally.
To begin with, an objection is that God has equal care for all. Since he has equal care for all, it would follow that he loves all equally. Therefore, he loves all equally. Aquinas says that this is not so however. God does not deal out equal good to all and we as Christians know this seeing as not all get the final good of being in the presence of God with the beatific vision. However, God uses the same wisdom in his care of all.
But is not the love of God his essence? Since that is the case, then it would seem that since his essence does not change, then his love cannot change and if his love cannot change, then what reason do we have to believe that God wills his love towards others differently?
However, the love of another is the willing of that person’s good. God does not will His essence to them, for no creature can have the essence of God. He does will the good that is fitting to that creature for them to have in relation to the kind of being that that creature is. Therefore, he does not in this case either love all things equally.
God’s love extends to created things, but so does his knowledge and will. However, he does not know some things more than others or will some things more than others. If that holds true, then it would be true also that God does not love some things more than others.
Aquinas answers that knowing and willing signify only acts and the acts are not equal to the creatures that are the recipients of those acts. God could very well know some things more because there is more to know about them and will some things more because they have more being to them. In the same way, he can love some things more as well.
The basic answer Aquinas also gives is that if love is the willing of the good of another, then it is self-evident that there are some things that he loves more because not all things are equally good. If you disagree with this, then just ask yourself a question. Are you as good as God is? No.
We do this also on a human level. Your friends and your family and yourself are all equally human, but you also love each differently. We would not respect a man who treated his wife in the exact same way he treated all women. Of course, he should love all women in the sense that they are all humans, but he should give a different kind of love to the woman he’s married. A person should love all humans as they are all humans, but his parents and friends have a different love.
God most of all loves himself and we should as well. Is this egotistical on God’s part? No. It’s realistic. God is treating himself as the greatest good because he is the greatest good. He could not treat anything else as if it was the greatest good. God acts in conformity with reality. We should do the same.
Love all? Of course you should. However, realize love does vary, and that’s just fine.
We shall conclude this topic tomorrow.