Chapter

Talking About God

Brian Davies

in The Thought of Thomas Aquinas

Published in print February 1993 | ISBN: 9780198267539
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600500 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198267533.003.0004

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

 Talking About God

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Since Thomas Aquinas considers God to be entirely mysterious and unknowable, the question is discussed of his position on how we can think of, or indeed say anything about him. The attitude of earlier Christian writers to this matter is outlined, and then Aquinas’ thinking on the subject is discussed: he says that in talking of God in a positive way, we do, in a sense, describe him – even though God is above naming, our statements about him can signify the divine nature. This amounts to what is known as the doctrine of analogy: that words are used of God and creatures in an analogical way. In essence then, Aquinas holds to three theses: (1) We do not know what God is, for he cannot he defined and he differs quite radically from the things to which we compare him; (2) As the source of his creatures, however, God may be said to resemble them, though he lacks all creaturely limitations; and (3) There is room for arguing that certain specific predicates can be ascribed to him. The chapter ends with comments on the conclusion propounded by Aquinas that while creatures are really related to God, God is not really related to them.

Keywords: Thomas Aquinas; doctrine of analogy; God; nature of God; talking about God

Chapter.  9785 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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