The Evangelical Universalist Forum

A fascinating thread

For those of you who are philosophically minded and don’t mind working a bit to understand something, this thread over at MaverickPHilosopher is just great stuff. The question of whether God is a Being, or God IS Being, is a meaty subject and lots of fun. Not easy stuff, though! The post has a whole bunch of comments following it. … tself.html

If you want to get immersed in the whole enchilada, enter ‘existence’ in the ‘search’ box on the MavPhil site.

I found this interesting today. SInce the author talks about N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, John Wesley, Eastern Orthodoxy and universalism. It’s entitled Why I Became Orthodox

I found this user commentary exchange interesting - from part 4:

Just a footnote here. The Calvinist is referring to Monergism vs. synergism. And the second one, is a position held by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Arminian theology, such as Methodists - as well as yours truly.

Aquinas has taken a bad rap from some protestants - mainly Francis Schaeffer from what I remember. Schaeffer thought that Aquinas had divided reality into a two-story building, ‘nature’ being the bottom floor, ‘grace’ being the top floor; and over time ‘nature’ had ‘eaten up’ grace, by which he (FS) meant that men had reduced all of reality to the natural, and explained away all so-called ‘supernatural’. In any case the results have been tragic. I think the book of FS is Escape from Reason, a good read that may have a flaw or two.
I don’t read Aquinas in that same way. I’ve been influenced by a wonderful translation, with introductory comments for each section, of the Summa Theologiae. The editor is Timothy McDermott, and he has take the 66 volumes or so of the standard 1960"s translation and miraculously saved the ‘meat’ of Aquinas’ teaching into a concise translation, very readable, in one volume. Here is a short section of introductory comments on Volume 14 “Human Life as a Journey to God”:

Do you think that the following is an acceptable representation of what God has been ‘up to’? Or do you opt more for the Stern Calvinist God, or the airy ethereal new-age ‘god’? (Ok, that was a false dichotomy - there are nuanced positions ‘in between’) Or do you like the way that it is put below?


What the scriptures teach is that man failed the gardening task and ruined God’s creation, but that God graciously came, as a friend and
cooperator, to help him salvage and recreate. In choosing that way to help man with his original goal God gave man’s life a new goal - that of fellowship with God himself as friend. The journey of this life is no longer simply a journey to the fulfilment of man’s nature, for that journey has been taken up into a journey into the presence of God HImself, into the good and happy state which God himself is.
This is Thomas’s preferred way of describing the relationship between what later commentators called man’s natural and supernatural ends. He does not talk, as they do, of man first knowing God as author of nature, and then as author of supernature. Rather he consistently talks of God, known to man’s learning as the author of nature, becoming through God’s teaching the object of his happiness. The word translated ‘happiness’ has more the sense of ‘happy state’ or ‘blessed state’, meaning a state which has blessedly happened or turned out well - a state of goodhap rather than mishap. It corresponds to the Aristotelian word ‘eudaimonia’, which some modern scholars translate as ‘flourishing’. When Thomas uses happiness as a name for God himself he is thinking of God as fulfilled life; and this explains why he talks of happiness as being accompanied by delight, rather than as consisting in it.
God has destined us for a goal beyond the grasp of reason.

end quote … +mcdermott

Dave, wouldn’t you think that perhaps Aquinas was a stepping stone to what we are now working to achieve? :open_mouth:

I wonder.

What I liked about the quote, that captures Aquinas’ thought, is …the story.
We have a Bible filled with stuff of all kinds, genres, times and places, poetry, prophecy, gospel, letters - and like people do, we try to express what the ‘story’ is, what takes all of those things into account, is faithful exegetically, and gives us a framework to make sense of it all.

Now one paragraph does not catch 1% of the good Dr.'s theological philosophy (or vice-versa) BUT imo the ‘story line’ is put exceedingly well.
The vocabulary is good : God as Friend, cooperator; salvage, recreate, new fellowship, flourishing, happiness.

Does that represent the overall tenor of the Book? Of course it cannot get everything into a paragraph, but the overall ‘feel’, the grammar of the Story, seems very right to me. Within the story we argue about every d*** thing, of course, but as to where God is taking us, I think that is a pretty good map.

What say you, Chad? :smiley:

Dave said that Aquinas said:

I am on board! In fact, the verbiage of God is a friend is very prevalent in the Good news Bible translation.

I have not read much of St T’s work, though I myself was a catholic in my youth (shame on me :laughing: ) so forgive me my ignorance.

But would not you agree that God has presented Himself as a friend, especially through the sending of His son the Messiah?

This was much of the simplistic message that Paul brought to the gentile churches… Simple though so direct :open_mouth:

Agreed all 'round, Chad!