So a few weeks back I wrote a piece about this article on The Shack which I thought was dumb, and I spent like 4,000 words bagging it. I’d like to spend a bit more time talking about The Shack today – but not attacking this person or that person. Instead, I’d like to look at a particular part of the book and distinguish between a few different levels of meaning. Depending on which level you’re looking at, the scene is going to make more or less sense from a theological perspective. (more…)
We’re still working towards the idea of predestination, having previously covered God’s freedom to act, God’s knowledge of sin, and the necessity of the things willed by God. Today, we’re looking at 1a.19.9, where Aquinas just straight-up asks the question: does God will evil? I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this previously, but it’s worth going to read these sections in your own time. I use this website as a reference point, but it’s not the version I’m reading – my university has the Summa spread across a shelf and a half, uh, and I’m gonna read it all, because fuck you I guess. (more…)
And it’s time for another Aquinas trap. Do we have free will? God’s will is supreme, and His will is done – so where’s our choice in all this? Aquinas phrases it slightly differently: “Does God’s will impose necessity on things?” Remember that Aquinas distinguishes between wishing and willing – so God wishes that everybody would be saved, but maybe He leaves it up to them as to whether they find salvation? (Spoilers: lol no.) This is 1a.19.8. (more…)
Note: For the regular viewers, this week’s post is fucking huge.
So The Shack is a Christian book that got read by heaps of people and then got heaps of blowback for doing theological things that were interpreted in a particular way. I don’t like talking about The Shack, because most of the arguments that people put forward against it are boring. However, I accidentally read this post on a theology blog that I follow, and now my blood’s up, so, ugh, I guess we have to talk about The Shack. You don’t have to actually read the initial post – I’m going to go through it point by point, so you can read it if you want to check I’m not taking things out of context or whatever. (more…)
This is another one of those delightful little traps that Aquinas constructs for himself. Is God’s will done? If so, then is all of the evil and horror of the world willed by God? But if God’s will is not done, then is He really all-powerful? In fact, Aquinas provides a Biblical basis for his answer: he looks at 1 Timothy 2:4, which (in his Bible) reads “God wills all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” He also quotes Psalms 115:11 (113 in Catholic Bibles), which reads “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” So there we go – God wills all men to be saved, and whatever God wants, God does. So, uh, what’s gone wrong? (more…)
As we’re working towards predestination, I’ll cover some of the foundations that Aquinas lays out as starting points. For example, 1a.19.3 asks ‘Is God bound to will whatever He does will?’ Now, predestination is the idea that some people are just destined to go to hell. There’s nothing they can do about it – they’re just fucked. They’ve been fucked from eternity – they were created fucked, they’re going to live fucked, and when they die they’ll go to hell, because they’ve been fucked. Thus 1a.19.3: is God bound to fuck those people over? Does He have to damn them to hell from before the creation of the world? Or could He, you know, not? (more…)
We’ve got some fun coming up now – we’re about to get into God’s will, which includes discussions of whether or not God wills evil, or whether or not God wills people to go to hell. Predestination, kiddies, it’s coming. As an entrée, we’ll look at God’s knowledge. Does God know evil? If He does, then evil has its roots in God – “for God’s knowledge stands to all created things as the artist’s to his products”, according to Aquinas (1a.14.8). If He doesn’t, then… God doesn’t know everything? This is one of the things I love about Aquinas – he sets up a framework of how something works, and then goes ‘Right, how can I break this?’ (more…)