At the end of a careful look at St. Thomas analysis of divine names in the Summa, David Layman says:

So Aquinas knows that the God of the Bible is a living God, and that to say, “God is a living God,” is essential to God’s identity… Unfortunately, in his own argument the God of the philosophers gets in the way of unpacking that insight.

This way of understanding the “God of the philosophers” and the God of revelation is common. The revealed God is living, concrete and vivid; the God of the philosophers is an abstract piece of armchair speculation. To be blunt, ignorance alone makes us think that we could relate to the God of the philosophers in that way. As soon as someone is convinced of the existence of God- even by reason alone- the only rational response is to adore and worship him. At the risk of laboring the obvious, you’ve just discovered the supreme being: the mover, cause, supreme goodness, highest truth, and author of all things seen and unseen. Of course you have to adore, worship and give thanks to such a being.

Every culture and society helps those in the culture see certain truths and blinds them to others. One of the more irritating blind spots of modern and contemporary Western culture is our utter tone deafness to natural piety. The odd and irrational view we contemporary persons take of the God of the philosophers is only one very small instance of this. How stupid (or wicked) do we have to be to think that we could discover that there was a cause of all that existed, and even every good we have received, and think we don’t have to worship or even thank him?


  1. Tony Sifert said,

    July 10, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    “As soon as someone is convinced of the existence of God–even by reason alone–the only rational response is to adore and worship him.”

    Taking for granted that a better understanding of Aquinas is possible after repudiating the “common” notion of the difference between the Living God and the God of the Philosophers, I wonder whether there is not too much confidence in your answer; it seems to make an unsteady analogical movement from the confidence of logic and philosophical discipline, in which one could, having achieved it, always access the correctness of a propositional argument for God’s existence, to the sustained piety of true devotion. In other words, it seems to say that knowledge of God is always adoration–that it is impossible to know God philosophically without feeling and obeying the necessity of worship.

    I am probably misunderstanding, but I believe there is something that constantly threatens the effect of the “discovery of the cause.”

  2. July 10, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    What is the reasonable response to the supreme being? We acknowledge his supremacy, which is itself adoration. If one says that a stone in the woods is God, he is adoring a stone; so what follows if I say that the prime mover or first cause is God? One can doubt whether some being known by reason deserves to be called God, but once they have determined that there is such a being (a “God of the philosophers”), then they are adoring that being- the only question is whether they will do it well or poorly.

  3. July 10, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I agree on the fact that most (in contemporary society) who come to accept some theistic proof will find it odd to say that they are adoring or worshiping the being revealed. But this seems due to a weakness of our intellect exploited by a weakness in our culture. we are skiddish and indecisive about divine things, constantly going back to them and wringing our hands about them. A healthier and more virile culture would give us support to take a stronger stand on the matter (as Catholicism does now).

    • tonysifert said,

      July 10, 2009 at 6:58 pm

      I would have said there is no strictly reasonable response, but your comment about the stone makes me think you have already anticipated that.

      Does one ever say that a stone in the woods is God–or is that only said of someone long after their descendants have achieved a dubious self-consciousness? I guess I mean that one does not seem to begin to adore following intellectual assent about what one adores, but we can tell what people adored by the way they thought.

      And you then mention the weakness of the intellect, what I would have called the poverty of the imagination, and perhaps we mean the same thing. Some variation on Denken ist Danken.

  4. Jack said,

    July 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more James, unfortunately we live in a culture similar to or even worse than Pagan Rome , I say onward with the soldiers of the White Horse

  5. David Tye said,

    July 10, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Perhaps the problem is that Layman demands that St. Thomas solve a problem that St. Thomas denied existed. Layman makes the standard modern move of erecting a wall between philosophical language (= abstract and conceptual) and biblical language (= concrete and imaged), a wall I think St. Thomas would have rejected. But you know more about this than me… Layman wants St. Thomas to have the two ways of talking about God shout at each other over the wall, which of course St. Thomas never does, since he believes they can engage in the friendly conversation he exhibits in the Summa.

    I have to say I have that even though I am intellectually convinced of the existence of God, and even of the truth of the teachings of the Catholic Church, I struggle to exhibit the rational conclusion of that knowledge in my life to the degree I know is expected of me… this is why we are in need of grace, isn’t it?

  6. T. Chan said,

    July 11, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I don’t think I would agree with Mr. Sifert’s objection, but I would pose another instead — that it is not possible to have the virtue of religion without the virtue of charity. Perhaps another way to say this is that the virtue of religion can only be infused, and not acquired (in the absence of charity). I have wavered between accepting and denying this, and am open to being persuaded that it is possible to have religion without charity.

  7. July 11, 2009 at 11:02 am

    That gives me another opportunity to quote my favorite argument in the Summa.

    “Natural reason tells man that he is subject to a higher being, on account of the defects which he perceives in himself, and in which he needs help and direction from someone above him: and whatever this superior being may be, it is known to all under the name of God. Now just as in natural things the lower are naturally subject to the higher, so too it is a dictate of natural reason in accordance with man’s natural inclination that he should tender submission and honor, according to his mode, to that which is above man. Now the mode befitting to man is that he should employ sensible signs in order to signify anything, because he derives his knowledge from sensibles. Hence it is a dictate of natural reason that man should use certain sensibles, by offering them to God in sign of the subjection and honor due to Him, like those who make certain offerings to their lord in recognition of his authority. Now this is what we mean by a sacrifice, and consequently the offering of sacrifice is of the natural law.”

    St. Thomas does give arguments like the one you give: faith does not propery remain when there is no charity, for example; and the notion of “God” is not the same in the Catholic and the pagan, for example. But I read his account of religion as arising from a natural impulse.

    I remember speaking so a non-Christian once who told me that he was very near to “religion”, but he wasn’t quite there yet. I blurted out “Just because you’re a non-Christian doesn’t get you off the hook: you still have to offer a chicken or something.” (or in our modern economy, I suppose you’d have to burn one of your paychecks, or pour out or destroy some of your groceries) I’m convinced of the basic rightness of my outburst, and St. Thomas would insist on it. When your back is against the wall and you come face to face with your own weakness, stupidity, and the sheer delicacy of your body, mind and control over events- and when all the lies of infinite scientific control are seen for what they are- you are going to call out to God whether you want to or not. This is a moment of revelation which deserves to be cultivated, even when it does not bear itself down upon us.

  8. T. Chan said,

    July 11, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I agree the precept to worship God is of the Natural Law, but I still think that it cannot be fulfilled without grace or an infused virtue. If religion is just concerned with making some sort of return for what God has done for us, then grace might not be necessary. St. Thomas does talk about the theological virtues commanding the subordinate virtues (such as religion) (ST II II 81, 5). It seems to me that before one can will the means as means, one must will the end to which the means is ordered, which in this case is God Himself. Hence grace and and charity are required for an act of religion to be possible.

    I suppose one response, to which you allude, might be that we can distinguish between “living” religion and “dead” religion. That those who do not have charity can attempt to make a return, though this act is not properly ordered to God as end. I am inclined to think that this is possible. And yet–when I give recompense to someone they do not have to be present — but for the act to be completed they must receive it and acknowledge it. It seems to me that if we are not properly oriented to God as our end, any return we attempt to make is not really a return, since we are not directed through our will towards God. It would be as if I said I made payment for services rendered, when all I did was leave some money somewhere, without ensuring that it would be received by the one giving the service.

    It also seems to me that how we answer this question has some relevance to question of whether a secular authority can command acts of religion. (One could readily defend “religious liberty” if even acts of religion require grace and an infused virtue–if that is the case, it is not within the competence of a secular authority to command them.)

  9. Brandon said,

    July 11, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Without charity you can’t have religion simpliciter but surely you can have religion secundum quid; religion is a moral virtue, not a theological one. Or to put it another way, without charity you can have imperfect religion, the virtue of religion under construction, so to speak, by organizing the right dispositions in the right way through imperfect prudence; you just can’t have perfect religion, which can only occur when charity completes prudence and therefore the virtue of religion itself. But there seems no reason to think religion would be different from any other virtue on this point: without charity you can have virtues to an extent and in a way, but only to an extent and in a way.

  10. July 11, 2009 at 2:37 pm


    Oh, if that’s what you mean, that there is no practice of a moral virtue in fact apart from grace, I agree. But the natural law is active enough in us to make us know that we ought to worship God and cannot. So in this sense at least there is religion without grace, sc. the knowledge of the absence of religion.

  11. T. Chan said,

    July 11, 2009 at 10:11 pm


    Without charity you can’t have religion simpliciter but surely you can have religion secundum quid; religion is a moral virtue, not a theological one.

    I’m open to this being the case, but would like to see some authoritative within the tradition texts explaining how it is so. I haven’t seen much written on this question by followers of the tradition.

    At the very least, without charity, there is no motivating force to perform an act of religion.

    If I pay another human being the owed amount for something they have given me, I have done the just thing. The good achieved by justice is proportionate to our natural powers. But religion seems to be different in so far as its acts are by their very nature directed towards God. It may be possible for someone without grace to pay “lip service” to God, that is to do the external acts of religion–but the internal acts of religion seem to me to be a different story. ST II II 82, 2 ad 1 seems to support this.

    I’ll have to consider this more…

  12. Peeping Thomist said,

    July 12, 2009 at 4:34 am

    This is a great post/thread. Comment on FT posts more often. Thanks much for pointing the St. Thomas natural law/sacrifice quote again.

  13. Kevin F. Keiser said,

    July 12, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    T. Chan said:
    “Without charity you can’t have religion simpliciter but surely you can have religion secundum quid; religion is a moral virtue, not a theological one.

    I’m open to this being the case, but would like to see some authoritative within the tradition texts explaining how it is so. I haven’t seen much written on this question by followers of the tradition. ”

    Well, it really goes back to the question of whether man can do any good without grace. The answer is yes, but not the good meritorious of eternal life. But the fact is, if he does not do what he is bound to do, he is still guilty of sin, and sin, whether you have grace or not, always has a corresponding punishment. But when a man without grace commits a good act, he neither merits, nor demerits, as St. Thomas puts it (De Malo 2, a. 5, ad 7) even though his act is actually good (as no act in the concrete is indifferent). Applied to religion, any man is bound to offer God protestations of His superiority, and if he fails to do so, he sins and demerits. But if he does so, he doesn’t gain Heaven unless he has charity. Furthermore, if He is aware of the way that God has established for Himself to be worshipped, and nevertheless worships him in some other way, he is guilty of sin again, the sin of superstition. But lacking that knowledge, the determination is left to the man himself (In IV Sent., d. 1, q. 1, a. 2, qc. 3, ad 2)

  14. Kevin F. Keiser said,

    July 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    By the way, James, thanks for this post. I get sick of this “God of the philosopher” bashing, too, and especially when people say that it harmed St. Thomas’ ability to do Theology.

  15. Brandon said,

    July 13, 2009 at 5:36 am

    At the very least, without charity, there is no motivating force to perform an act of religion.

    I think it depends on what you mean by a motivating force. When St. Thomas discusses it in the Summa, he says that religion doesn’t actually “reach to God” the way love does; God’s the end, but he’s not the object of the virtue. Religion on its own just deals with means to show respect and honor to the first principle of the universe insofar as it excels everything else. It directs to God, but as a virtue it’s not about God but about us: we cannot be in order ourselves if we do not show respect where respect is due, and respect is due to God. Obviously charity would be the only perfect motivation for this, in the way it is the only perfect motivation for any virtuous act; and it would also be the most effective and forceful motivation. And as Kevin says, only with charity can it be salvific. But particular acts of religion can be done without charity; a sign of which is that acts of religion, i.e., moderate acts of paying respect to God, seem to be fairly common, while charity is not. And, of course, this gets back to the passage James quoted in the comment above.

  16. T. Chan said,

    July 13, 2009 at 8:20 pm


    By motivating force I only mean that the will, in intending a certain end, moves itself with respect to the means to that end.

    Hence ST II II 81, 5 ad 1:

    “The power or virtue whose action deals with an end, moves by its command the power or virtue whose action deals with matters directed to that end. Now the theological virtues, faith, hope and charity have an act in reference to God as their proper object: wherefore, by their command, they cause the act of religion, which performs certain deeds directed to God: and so Augustine says that God is worshiped by faith, hope and charity.”

    If we are in the state of personal sin, can we really be said to be subjected to God as superior (ST II II 81, 1 and 7)?

    • Kevin F. Keiser said,

      July 14, 2009 at 5:58 am

      “If we are in the state of personal sin, can we really be said to be subjected to God as superior (ST II II 81, 1 and 7)?”

      Well, sure. Even if we are not in the habitual status of our will, infected with culpa, nevertheless, in all other aspects, we are subject to God, whether we like it or not. And even our culpa does not escape subjection to him, corrected as it shall be by the Eternal Law (I-II, q. 93, a.6). As for your quote, it only proves that when charity is had, it is the motivating force of religion; it does not prove that the imperfect virtue of religion is practicable without it (I-II, q. 65, a. 2). Even without charity, the sinner has a natural love for his first principle and for the common good intended by it, whatever it is ( Iª q. 60 a. 5 ad 4,ad 5), and he acts in accord with this love if he offers cult to God (which is the actual object of religion); if he does not, he acts against his nature, and sins.

      • T. Chan said,

        July 14, 2009 at 10:09 am

        Aquinas explicitly denies that the sinner has a natural love for God. I II 109, 3

      • T. Chan said,

        July 14, 2009 at 10:11 am

        To be more precise, one in the state of corrupt nature does not have the natural love of God. Someone in the state of personal sin does not have love of God, natural or supernatural, because they have rejected God in sinning against Him.

  17. Kevin F. Keiser said,

    July 14, 2009 at 6:01 am

    sorry, i meant “it does not prove that the imperfect virtue of religion is impracticable without it”

  18. Brandon said,

    July 14, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Hi, T. Chan,

    I agree with Kevin that your quote from 2-2.81.5 ad 1 really just shows that the theological virtues, when we have them command the moral virtues as instruments. This is true, and important, but not, I think, directly relevant. And it is also something that religion shares with every other moral virtue; if because of it acts of religion could only genuinely occur when motivated by charity, this would be true of every act of virtue — if it were true, for a pagan to be genuinely courageous, even incompletely courageous, would be just as impossible as for a pagan to be religious. But we do know that imperfect virtues can be acquired; it’s clear that not every virtue is infused with charity (although every complete virtue is so infused).

    Thomas says, “By the very fact that we revere and honor God, our mind is subjected to Him,” so the very act of religion itself involves subjection. I would agree with your point if you were confining it to perfection, i.e., complete subjection, which is impossible without charity; but to say that without charity there cannot even be imperfect subjection to God without charity is, I think, too strong, for the reason Kevin gives.

  19. Kevin F. Keiser said,

    July 14, 2009 at 10:55 am

    That is partly true, but in that question, Aquinas specifically says that the sinner “is deficient” in the natural love (“dilectio”, i.e., a properly rational love) of God in the will (“in the state of corrupt nature man falls short of this in the appetite of his rational will”). But this is because knowledge led astray by unruled passions leads one to perceive God as more of a hindrance than a help to their happiness, as St. Thomas says in the article I referred to. The objection is:

    “Further, natural love lasts while nature endures. But the love of God more than self does not remain in the angel or man who sins; for Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv), “Two loves have made two cities; namely love of self unto the contempt of God has made the earthly city; while love of God unto the contempt of self has made the heavenly city.” Therefore it is not natural to love God more than self. ”

    And the reply is:

    “Since God’s substance and universal goodness are one and the same, all who behold God’s essence are by the same movement of love moved towards the Divine essence as it is distinct from other things, and according as it is the universal good. And because He is naturally loved by all so far as He is the universal good, it is impossible that whoever sees Him in His essence should not love Him. But such as do not behold His essence, know Him by some particular effects, which are sometimes opposed to their will. So in this way they are said to hate God; yet nevertheless, so far as He is the universal good of all, every thing naturally loves (“diligat”) God more than itself.”

    The thing is, there are limits to which not even sin can go, and one of those limits is to make one’s will not love the principle of one’s own being, or not love the common good in which one finds one’s own perfection. The love for one’s own principle is even stronger than the love of one’s own self, since it has more to do with our existence than we ourselves do. We can only manage to have a perverted hatred of these things according to a certain aspect that our ignorance or passions present to us, but not insofar as they are these things. Until we lose our own natural form, we love all the things that maintain its existence and promote its perfection. And this love is enough to motivate one to do religious acts. And if one repeats these enough, he establishes a habit of performing religious acts. And since religious acts are good (though not meritorious in the poor sinner’s case), this habit is a virtue. It is not perfect virtue, it is not simple virtue, since it does not dispose man’s powers to that which is the ultimate end simply; but it is a determination of a free undetermined power to a good thing, and that is what acquired moral virtue is.

    The fact is, pagans and sinners perform acts of religion. What motivates them? Not charity, for they don’t have it. Love of self? Maybe it seems so sometimes, but that’s just dishonest. They are clearly worshipping something they regard as a principle of themselves. Their very recognition of something bigger than them leads them to protest their own subjection to it through acts of cult, which are simply acts of attestation of subjection. Somehow, they know that the find their end in that thing, by being a part of it’s intended good, by fitting into one’s own place in the order established by that thing. The impulse of nature is to take your place in the universe, and this impulse nothing other than a natural love. The recognition of subjection is simply willing the good of that principle’s order to subsist. That is all that is required for a thing to be called “love.”

    • T. Chan said,

      July 15, 2009 at 2:57 am

      Mr. Feiser,

      The thing is, there are limits to which not even sin can go, and one of those limits is to make one’s will not love the principle of one’s own being, or not love the common good in which one finds one’s own perfection. The love for one’s own principle is even stronger than the love of one’s own self, since it has more to do with our existence than we ourselves do.

      This goes against the plain meaning of I II 109, 3.

      As additional confirmation, we find in Garrigou-Lagrange’s Three Ages of the Interior Life (which I happened to be looking at tonight):

      This disorder and weakness of the will in fallen man are shown by the fact that we cannot, without healing grace, love God, the Author of our nature, efficaciously and more than ourselves.(17)


      Elsewhere Garrigou-Lagrange explains:

      “Since original sin, we are born without sanctifying grace and charity, with our wills turned away from God, the supernatural last end, and weak for the accomplishment of our duties even in the natural order.(3)

      Without falling into the exaggeration of the first Protestants and the Jansenists, we must say that we are born with a will inclined to egoism, to inordinate self-love. This is called the wound of malice; (4) it often manifests itself by a gross egoism, against which one should guard, an egoism that mingles in all man’s acts. It follows that the will, which has become weak by reason of its lack of docility to God, no longer has absolute power over the sensible faculties, but only a sort of moral power or persuasion to lead them to subject themselves.(5) Doubtless after baptism, which regenerated us by giving us sanctifying grace and charity, this wound, like the others, is in the process of healing; but it also reopens by reason of our personal sins.

      The principal defect of the will is the lack of rectitude, called self-love or inordinate love of self, which forgets the love due to God and that which we should have for our neighbor. Self-love or egoism is manifestly the source of all sins.(6) From it are born “the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (7) The sensible appetites, which are no longer firmly led, incline man to thoughtlessness, feverish eagerness, fruitless agitation, selfish search for all that pleases, flight from all that is painful, nonchalance, discouragement, in which he sees that his will has lost its strength, and to all sorts of bad examples. (8)

      It is clear that self-will, which is defined as that which is not conformed to the will of God, is the source of every sin. Self-will is extremely dangerous because it can corrupt everything; even what is best in one may become evil when self-will enters in, for it takes itself as its end, instead of subordinating itself to God. If the Lord perceives this will in a fast or a sacrifice, He rejects them because He sees therein a divine work accomplished through pride in order to gain approbation. Now, self-will is born of self-love or egoism; it is strong self-love that has become imperious.”

      The footnotes contain the references to the Summa. It is precisely because we love ourselves more than we love God that sin comes to be.

      After reading through II II question 81 again, I see that when Aquinas speaks of the subjection of our mind to God with respect to the virtue of religion, he is referring to religion’s direction of our actions to God as our last end. So in this case, subjection is just giving what is due to God as First Principle and Lord of all things.

      At this point I am inclined to think that acts of religion are possible for those who are in the state of sin, but the possibility of acquiring the virtue to some degree is even less than that of the other moral virtues, given its proximity to God. With that being the case, one could still argue that the state should not compel acts of religion.

      • Kevin F. Keiser said,

        July 15, 2009 at 4:45 am

        I am well aware of these texts of Garrigou-Lagrange, as well as other similar ones in the Christian Perfection and Contemplation, The Three Ways, and in his commentary on the Summa. I had to undertake the study of them for my doctoral thesis.
        Nevertheless, I still maintain what I said, that in St. Thomas’ mind, the deliberative love of the will is perverted through sin, but not even sin can remove the natural love of God as principle of nature and as extrinsic common good. See for example De Veritate 22, a. 2, ad 3:
        “To the third it must be said that God can be considered in two ways: either in himself, or in his effects. In himself indeed, since he is the essence of goodness, he cannot be not loved. Wherefore, by all those seeing him through his essence, he is loved, and there as much as someone knows him, so much does he love him. But in some of his effects, insofar as they are contrary to the will, such as punishments inflicted, or commandments which seem heavy, God himself is refused, and in a certain way is hated. And nevertheless, it is necessary that they who hate him as so some effects, love him in other effects; just as the Demons themselves, according to Dionysius in the 4th book of the Divine Names, they desire to be and to live naturally, and in this, they desire and love God himself.”

        It is perhaps better explained in the Commentary on the Sentences, lib. 4 d. 50 q. 2 a. 1 qc. 1:
        “I answer that, A twofold will may be considered in the damned, namely the deliberate will and the natural will. Their natural will is theirs not of themselves but of the Author of nature, Who gave nature this inclination which we call the natural will. Wherefore since nature remains in them, it follows that the natural will in them can be good. But their deliberate will is theirs of themselves, inasmuch as it is in their power to be inclined by their affections to this or that. This will is in them always evil”

        The upshot of this is that… (qc. 5):
        “Now God is apprehended in two ways, namely in Himself, as by the blessed, who see Him in His essence; and in His effects, as by us and by the damned. Since, then, He is goodness by His essence, He cannot in Himself be displeasing to any will; wherefore whoever sees Him in His essence cannot hate Him. On the other hand, some of His effects are displeasing to the will in so far as they are opposed to any one: and accordingly a person may hate God not in Himself, but by reason of His effects.”

        Even better is II-II, q. 34, a. 1:
        “I answer that, As shown above (I-II, 29, 1), hatred is a movement of the appetitive power, which power is not set in motion save by something apprehended. Now God can be apprehended by man in two ways; first, in Himself, as when He is seen in His Essence; secondly, in His effects, when, to wit, “the invisible things” of God . . . “are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Romans 1:20). Now God in His Essence is goodness itself, which no man can hate–for it is natural to good to be loved. Hence it is impossible for one who sees God in His Essence, to hate Him.
        Moreover some of His effects are such that they can nowise be contrary to the human will, since “to be, to live, to understand,” which are effects of God, are desirable and lovable to all. Wherefore again God cannot be an object of hatred if we consider Him as the Author of such like effects. Some of God’s effects, however, are contrary to an inordinate will, such as the infliction of punishment, and the prohibition of sin by the Divine Law. Such like effects are repugnant to a will debased by sin, and as regards the consideration of them, God may be an object of hatred to some, in so far as they look upon Him as forbidding sin, and inflicting punishment.”

        I realize that these texts are speaking about hatred of God, and not about the inability to love him. Nevertheless, they are quite pertinent, since they all speak of a natural love of God that cannot be subverted or displaced by sin, not even by the obstinacy in actual mortal sin found in the demons and the damned.

        It is not sufficient, then, simply to assert that my previous post “goes against the plain meaning of I II 109, 3.” Does St. Thomas go against the plain meaning of I II 109, 3. I should say not, unless by plain you mean not requiring any understanding of the terms used, But I think the plain meaning is, well, what St. Thomas says there, namely, “in statu naturae corruptae homo ab hoc deficit secundum appetitum voluntatis rationalis.” It is quite plainly consistent with St. Thomas’ other thought elsewhere.

        As for Garrigou-LaGrange, my adherence to him is quite strong, but my adherence to St. Thomas is stronger, And I have found that Garrigou-LaGrange is a sure guide to Thomas’ thought, with few exceptions. This is one of those exceptions, where, with the Carmelites of Salamanca and many others, he placed an already existing aversio to God in the will of man in Original Sin, an aversio with which he is born, present even before a child’s first motion of will (as the texts you supplied so clearly point out). St. Thomas, on the other hand, does not think so; he says that in original sin, there is “something corresponding to the aversion [i.e. of actual sin], namely, the destitution of Original Justice” (De malo, q. 5 a. 2). For St. Thomas, the essence of Original Sin is not an inordinate love of self that we are born with, but the loss of the gratuitous integrity of our Original State (which makes it so that our first rational act will certainly be one of inordiinate love of self unless we are helped by grace, I-II, q. 89, a. 6), plus the real culpa that accrues to our nature, since the loss of Original Justice was perpetrated by the human will in the active principle of our nature, i.e. Adam. Even the wound of malice for St. Thomas is by way of privation of a previous order, not by way of position of a perverting self-love (I-II, q. 85, a. 3).

        As for religion in sinners, we agree. As for whether the State can compel acts of religion, I’m not sure, but you might want to look at De Regimine Principum, Bk. 1, ch. 15. My first interpretation would be that before Christ, the State could command acts of religion, but afterwards, it must leave that to the Church,

      • T. Chan said,

        July 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

        I don’t see how the proof texts speak of “a natural love of God that cannot be subverted or displaced by sin, not even by the obstinacy in actual mortal sin found in the demons and the damned.” They do speak of whether it is possible for those who apprehend the essence of God to not love Him, but this apprehension is not possible for us in this life.

  20. Kevin F. Keiser said,

    July 14, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Sorry, that was supposed to be a response to T. Chan’s “Aquinas explicitly denies that the sinner has a natural love for God. I II 109, 3”, not a reply to Brandon.

  21. July 15, 2009 at 8:57 am

    What a thread. Wow. Blogging at its best.

  22. July 15, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I think the “proof texts” are pretty clear.

    “And nevertheless, it is necessary that they who hate him as to some effects, love him in other effects; just as the Demons themselves, according to Dionysius in the 4th book of the Divine Names, desire to be and to live naturally, and in this, they desire and love God himself.” (de verit. 22, a. 2, ad 3)

    The demons, needless to say, do not enjoy the Beatific Vision.

  23. July 15, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Just because the will that follows on deliberative reason is perverse, the order of nature, given by God, remains. Unless we shall say that created wills can change a thing’s own nature? Or shall we say that the good, as good, and therefore lovable, is evil, and therefore able to be hated? This is simply a contradiction. When a demon considers God as his first principle, under the aspect of first principle, his will must love it, since not even the angelic intellect is able to force itself to judge the first principle as bad. The voluntas ut natura spontaneously tends toward it, following the intellect’s judgment. But when the demon, the damned, or the sinner consider this first principle as an obstacle to their mistaken notion of happiness, because he punishes them for being proud or following their passions, or because his order imposes certain laws on our behavior which are perceived as onerous, they can then call it evil, and hate it. And action follows deliberative reason, and the consequent voluntas ut ratio. If voluntas ut natura tends to one thing, and voluntas ut ratio tends to another, the voluntas ut ratio wins, since choice is the term of deliberation. So of course sinners and demons who do not have the vision of the divine essence can choose to hate God, but not according to himself, nor according as he is their principle. In I-II, q. 109, 3, St. Thomas explicitly says that man falls short as to the rational appetite of the will. That is the voluntas ut ratio.

%d bloggers like this: