Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. Thanks to a commenter who stated that they understand the switch to married life. It’s an interesting one but a good one. Readers can expect the blog to go up earlier. For our studies, we are looking at the doctrine of God and having our guide for that be the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. This can be read for free at newadvent.org. We’re talking about the justice and mercy of God and tonight, we’re going to be asking if the justice of God is truth. Let’s go to the question!
Immediately, we are presented with the idea of great teachers of the past, and in this case, Anselm and then Aristotle, who wasknown as the Philosopher in the medieval period. Dante had referred to Aristotle as “The Master of those who know.” Anselm is especially famous for the ontological argument. A side note here is that the medievals knew to respect those great teachers who came before them. Would that we could learn that!
For Anselm, we are told that he said that justice resides in the will. However, when we did a study on truth earlier, we concluded that truth resides in the intellect. If justice resides in the will and truth resides in the intellect, then it would seem that the justice of God cannot be truth.
Aquinas answers that when we speak of justice, we are also speaking of the law that governs. The law resides in the mind of God. However, when it comes to meting out the justice, that resides in the action. Thus, the idea resides in the intellect but the working out of the idea resides in the will and thus, there is no contradiction.
But what about the Philosopher? He argued that truth is a virtue separate from justice. If that is the case, then it would seem that the justice of God cannot be truth.
Aquinas knows the passage well however and says that the truth that Aristotle is speaking of here is virtue whereby a man shows himself in word and deed to be what he really is. In other words, he is true to himself. This means that it is in conformity with what is signified and is not simply the effect lining up with its cause and rule.
Why is this the case? Aquinas says that truth does consist in the equation of the idea in the intellect with the reality. However, the intellect can also be the rule or measure of things. How true is an artwork? It is true if it corresponds to the idea the artist had in his mind.
This is the same way it is with justice. The way of justice lies in the wisdom of God. When things are done in accordance with that wisdom, they are done truly. It is because of this that when God acts, we say that God acts in truth. He acts in accordance with his wisdom just as an artwork is to be in accordance with the artist.
Tomorrow, we shall look at part 1 of 2 on mercy.