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Aquinas Lecture 2015

Wednesday 25th February 2015

Fr Thomas Joseph's title was “Divine Simplicity and the Holy Trinity”. He expounded the simplicity of God as defended by St. Thomas in Prima Pars, Question 3, showing that the complexities or compositions found in creatures are not found in God. It follows, he argued, that God as God is not in history; nor does He react to the world; nor is He a “kind of thing”. Hence we cannot envisage God as, for example, “an acorporeal mind with infinite power”. As the Author of being, who alone does not need to receive being, God is “He Who Is” of Exodus 3, and is neither a member of the sum of all beings, nor the being within them. In line with the apophaticism of Exodus, and the Patristic theologies of East and West, Fr. Thomas Joseph critiqued forms of Trinitarian theology that are anthropomorphic, albeit in a high way. He also rejected attempts to prove the doctrine of the Holy Trinity on the basis of creation or on the basis of the essential attributes of goodness and of inter­personal communion. Rather, we should appreciate God’s graciousness in revealing a Mystery that transcends all natural knowledge, yet does not contradict or confound human reason. Authentic Christian Trinitarianism is in no tension with the Old Testament revelation, nor does it do away with the sound philosophy that can attain to God’s simplicity. The lecture was, as usual, well attended, and was followed by a lively question and discussion session, a reception, and Vespers of St. Thomas.

 

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