Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Philosophy of St. Thomas - Necessity and God

In ST Supp Q79 A2, St. Thomas tells us that the resurrection is "necessary." He doesn't mean that there is some exterior force that compels God to raise us up.
The necessity of holding the resurrection arises from this--that man may obtain the last end for which he was made; for this cannot be accomplished in this life, nor in the life of the separated soul, as stated above (75, 1,2): otherwise man would have been made in vain, if he were unable to obtain the end for which he was made. And since it behooves the end to be obtained by the selfsame thing that was made for that end, lest it appear to be made without purpose, it is necessary for the selfsame man to rise again; and this is effected by the selfsame soul being united to the selfsame body. For otherwise there would be no resurrection properly speaking, if the same man were not reformed. Hence to maintain that he who rises again is not the selfsame man is heretical, since it is contrary to the truth of Scripture which proclaims the resurrection.
The necessity is one that arises from the purpose for which God made us. It was not necessary for God to have made Eve, as though he were compelled to it; but having made Adam, it was not good for him to be alone and so out of a sort of necessity God made woman as well.

So we see that the only real necessity upon God is that which arises from himself. Once he begins to create, he must complete the work of creation. When he sends out his Word, it does not return to him void but completes the work he intends by it (Is. 55:11). And with respect to the resurrection (getting back again to the subject of our quotation for this post), since we cannot attain our last end apart from God's grace (as I mentioned briefly in my last post), it is "necessary" that God gives it to us. Now this is a slightly different order of things, because - though he gives us grace - we have free wills and may choose to reject him. But our freedom is also from God, and so his purposes are fulfilled in it, too.


Mike Burgess said...

This post made me think of Leithart's reflection on Yves Congar's engagement of St. Thomas Aquinas on ecclesiology and atonement.

The "necessary" part of your post was what sparked my memory, I think. It took a while to remember where I'd read it. Good stuff you've had coming lately.

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hi Mike,


I found this to be an interesting part of that Leithart essay: "Thomas is not divinizing the church or the creation, but only insisting that there is only a world, and a church, by participating in God."

This is consistent with what I discussed in a couple recent posts, I think. I was going to write another post on this same topic, bringing in some discussion of what Mike Liccione's written about Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (I hope I spelled all that right!) and other things in this post (and other places). It seems to me that this is a rational development from both from EENS and from what St. Thomas said about all men being in the Church in potentiality. Like I say, I wanted to do the post, but I haven't been able to wrap my head around it enough to dare to do so yet :-(

Heh. I tried just now to force out of my brain what I'm trying to say, and it just won't make it to my fingers for typing. But it seems important to my small brain.

I've got just one more post on the Summa Theologica left in my notes. Then I'll be doing some stuff from SCG for a while, which I'm looking forward to. For whatever reason I found it to be more accessible. Maybe I'm not sufficiently a beginner for the beginner's book! LOL!

-- RdP