What is Made Reflects its Maker


What may be known about God is plain …… For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, …….

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is for ever praised. Amen.

Romans 1:19-23, 25

The divine nature of God is perceived in His handiwork – the world He created reflects Him. The human mind that has wisdom perceives its own limitations and looks beyond itself and beyond created things to the One greater than itself.

#2 Exercise Writing a Short Speech

This exercise on writing a short speech follows on from the podcast on how to prepare and deliver a speech.  It gives listeners 6 minutes of training that they can pause while they do the writing exercise for themselves.  The art of public speaking comes from the practise of it.

#1 How to Create a Short Speech

This is a workshop on public speaking I gave to a writers group (belonging to Association of Christian Writers ACW) in September 2022.  It teaches you how to write and deliver a speech.  The recommendations I give come from my own experience of giving speeches.  I have been a member of Toastmasters International and the Association of Speakers Clubs (based in the UK) for over 5 years.  

I am sorry about the sudden beginning and ending of this podcast, but I had to edit out the group discussion which preceded and ensued so I don’t sign off properly in the edit. I’ll get it right next time.

Clare September 2022

The next blog post and tweet will have the mini-speech writing exercise.

#15 God Thinks on a Totally Different Level to Us

God knows all things eternally at once.  God knows things other than himself through himself.  He knows them simultaneously and intuitively.  God is omniscient.

If the thought and writings of any one person changed the course of history, it was the thought of Thomas Aquinas.  The foundations of Western civilization and Western thought are planted in the writings of this 13th century saint and doctor of the church.

End of article

#14 What is Knowledge?

Thomas Aquinas’ thoughts culminate in the analysis of what thought is in itself.  He reflects upon human thought and then upon God’s thoughts.

Human understanding is based on what can be perceived by the senses and captured in the imagination.  The proper object of the human intellect is the ‘whatness’ or quiddity of the material thing.  Aquinas is down-to-earth in being concerned about thoughts based on things that can be perceived.

The judgment of things is, however, based on innate first principles – principles infused into the human soul by God.  We judge things through uncreated truth. 

God is the efficient cause of all things.  God is really related to creatures as their Creator, and their relationship with God is one of dependence.  God knows his own essence and every creature as participating in his essence.  Every creature has its own proper form in which it is like God.  God knows the form or idea of every creature.  In this way God both made the creature and knows the creature.

As human beings, we only know ourselves and are ourselves through God.

#13 To Be or Not to Be? That is the Question

When William Shakespeare put this in his play Hamlet he was, of course, quoting Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica Volume 2.  Hamlet asks the skull of a man who has ceased to be whether it is better to live or die?

In the original reference Aquinas states that every contingent thing has in it something necessary.  Contingency arises from matter.  Things made of matter have in them the potentiality to be or not to be. 

Shakespeare was quoting the following reference: 

Summa Theologica Volume 2: Treatise on man: What our intellect knows in material things: Whether our intellect can know contingent things?

REALISM

The principle of identity – in the order of being (ontology) Aquinas states that everything is identical with itself.  This signifies the unity of things.  Ontologically  something must either be or not be; it cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same sense.  

Most people find ontology difficult to follow, but they get the bit about the dialogue with the skull.  They get that life is a difficult and painful business. Maybe we sometimes wish not to be.

#12 What is Act?

Some theologians have said that Aquinas’ argument is not dependent on a past, but only on a present cause of being.  It is true that act is a continuous present.  God is the continuous present of creation.  What is made is maintained in actuality by God’s own existence.

Aquinas writes that creatures exist and live through their participation in God.  This is one truth, but it does not discount the truth that God conferred existence upon them in the first acts of creation that brought their forms into existence.

Therefore created things had a beginning as well as continuing existence.

#11 A Beginning to Creation

Thomas Aquinas, along with all the other Church Fathers of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, believed that creation had a beginning.  The beginning brought time into being.

Thomas Aquinas also shared the Evangelical Creationist belief that God created many forms of life and the substrate upon which they depend directly; he brought creatures into existence that had not previously existed.

While God’s sustaining of creatures is continuous, their creation refers to their origin in the beginning.

Aquinas’ explanation of creation is that it is to make things by combining form with matter.  God created forms according to ideas in his mind, ideas which are perfect exemplars of forms; each idea is a concept and each concept is a word.

The specification of the form is from mind and from nothing; creatures are made out of matter, but matter does not dictate their original form.  (Just as writing is in ink, but the ink does not determine what is written on the page).

Thomas Aquinas states that to create something from nothing shows infinite power.

#10 Creation and Act

The creative power of God is common to the whole Trinity and belongs to the essence of God. 

God is the Father of the Son from eternity; while He is the Father of the creature in time.

Reference: Summa Theologica Volume 1: Treatise on the creation: The mode of emanation of things from the first principle: Whether to create is proper to any person?

To the Father is appropriated power which is chiefly shown in creation, and therefore it is attributed to Him to be the Creator.  To the Son is appropriated wisdom, through which the intellectual agent acts; and therefore it is said “Through Whom all things were made.” And to the Holy Ghost is appropriated goodness, to which belong both government bringing things to their proper end, and the giving of life – for life consists in a certain interior movement. 

“God is the cause of things by His intellect and will, just as the craftsman is cause of the things made by his craft.  Now the craftsman works through the word conceived in his mind, and through the love of his will regarding some object.  Hence also God the Father made the creature through His Word, which is His Son; and through His Love, which is the Holy Ghost.”  [Page 510]

To create belongs to God according to His being, that is His essence and this is common to the three persons.  Hence to create is proper to the whole Trinity, and not only to one of the Persons.

Reference: Summa Theologica Volume 1: Treatise on the Most Holy Trinity: Of the person of the Son:

Word implies relation to creatures.  For God by knowing Himself, knows every creature.

The knowledge of God is cognitive and operative of creatures  “He spake, and they were made.”  Because in the Word is implied the operative idea of what God makes.

#9 The Trinity

Who is God?

This is the most fundamental question for any believer who feels God’s presence but does not comprehend the Being who is felt, the One who calls.

The vision of Thomas Aquinas is truly sublime.  It is he who consolidated the Christian concept of God as Trinity.

This post is longer as it contains the most important part of this article.

This is what Thomas Aquinas writes in Summa Theologica Volume 1: Treatise on the Most Holy Trinity (I will not quote page numbers too much as they will be different in different editions).

God is one essence and three persons.  The divine persons are distinguished as each subsists distinctly from the others in the divine nature.  There is only one essence though and one Godhead.

God the Father is existence itself, the principle without principle.  The Father is the principle of the whole deity.  It is the property of the Father to beget the Son.  God is the Father of the Son from eternity.

Jesus, the Son is begotten of God the Father receiving the whole Godhead from God.

Jesus is the principle from a principle.  He is wisdom.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God.

The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Jesus.

The Holy Ghost proceeds from Father and Son.  He is not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.  There is unity between Father and Son by the Holy Spirit.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have the essence of God which is existence; which is perfection; which is the goal of all things.

Power belongs to the Father who is the principle of the whole Godhead.  Wisdom belongs to the Son as the Word.  Goodness whose object is love has the likeness of the Holy Spirit.

The Father and Son are in everything one and are one principle of the Holy Spirit.  The Father in begetting the Son communicated His whole nature to Him.  “The Son was not begotten from nothing, but from the Father’s substance.” 

Creatures were originally created from nothing.  The principle of each ‘genus’ or type of creature made came from the over-arching principle of God.  It’s form was originally established by God it’s maker.

Humans are different from all other creatures in that God, the Holy Spirit may be given to us through grace and reside in our souls.  We can begin to know the One who made us.