Hello readers, and welcome back to Deeper Waters, where we go into a quest of diving into the ocean of truth! Right now, we’re studying the Christian doctrine of God. Tonight, we continue the topic of the book of life, using the excellent work of Thomas Aquinas, the Summa Theologica, which can be read at newadvent.org. We are going to be asking tonight exactly what is recorded in this book? Is it the life of the predestined to glory only or is it all life?
For instance, who has more life than God? Does the Book of Life record that there is the God who is living? What about the natural world? Does it record that there are creatures and plant life that are living? What about those who are not elect? Does it record them and then at the moment of their death they are gone?
Aquinas says in response that election relates to something that is not natural to someone. A man is elected to military service not to put on a uniform but for an end, the end of going to war and fighting. The life of glory is that which does not belong to us by nature. Therefore, it too requires that we be elected in order to partake of it.
This would explain why Aquinas believes that the divine life is not recorded in the Book of Life. God is not elected to anything and he is alive by nature. In fact, were God elected to the divine life, then he could not be God for there would be someone that is beyond him who would be electing him to that position.
A similar case applies to the natural world, including lost human beings that are not predestined. These are creatures that have a natural life in them that is, well, natural to them. There is no need to record that in the Book. What this says however about the eternal status of animals, for instance pets, Aquinas does not explain here.
What of passages brought up such as Christ choosing the twelve but one of them, namely Judas, is a devil? Aquinas says that some people are chosen relatively but not absolutely. Judas would be an example of this. He was chosen to have some relation to the life of glory, but he was not chosen to partake of the life of glory.
Once again, how this will work out with debates such as eternal security will have to be settled by readers on their own. However, this is not a new debate and Aquinas has already been thinking in advance about Calvinist and Arminian debates before they ever came around.
What I wish to leave in conclusion is the importance that was placed on salvation however and the knowledge of God in relation to it. While we should all believe in salvation by grace through faith, let us never be lightly about it. Christ told the seventy-two to not rejoice that the demons even obeyed them, but that their names were written in Heaven.
Let us do the same.