The Eastern Churches and St. Thomas Aquinas
#38
(02-06-2012, 11:32 AM)Laetare Wrote: I think the entire thread revolves around this sort of statement. It won't really do to bring up pre-schism saints as representative of some sort of "Eastern way". The distinction between the eastern apophasis (opting to say what God is not) vs. the broadly western cataphasis (opting to say what God is) does not arise until after the schism. With Western cataphatic, scholastic theology trying to define every niche, nook, and cranny of God, the mostly-schismatic East felt the need to do the opposite. They had to develop mysterious Palamism and other weird stuff, in my opinion, only so they could be not-Latin. The East did not develop great manuals of theology, because it was too busy praying. The Western universities developed their great summae, but at the price of being Goliard-ridden, secular, and atheistic (yes, even before Aquinas and after).

But this is a misrepresentation of the West.

There is philosophy, knowledge obtained by building up from reason. Then there is sacred doctrine, examining what is revealed with reason.

It is a denial of human nature to think that one cannot do this. We are rational, made in God's image.

Now, one could fail in one's studies, like the Pharisees, but that does not mean the science is wrong or fruitless. Remember, despite the errors of the Pharisees, Jesus did not condemn their teachings. It was their acts. They were hypocrites...hypocrites exist. It is not the fault of the truth which they are professing but not following.

Consider:

Summa Theologica Wrote:I answer that, This doctrine is wisdom above all human wisdom; not merely in any one order, but absolutely. For since it is the part of a wise man to arrange and to judge, and since lesser matters should be judged in the light of some higher principle, he is said to be wise in any one order who considers the highest principle in that order: thus in the order of building, he who plans the form of the house is called wise and architect, in opposition to the inferior laborers who trim the wood and make ready the stones: "As a wise architect, I have laid the foundation" (1 Corinthians 3:10). Again, in the order of all human life, the prudent man is called wise, inasmuch as he directs his acts to a fitting end: "Wisdom is prudence to a man" (Proverbs 10:23). Therefore he who considers absolutely the highest cause of the whole universe, namely God, is most of all called wise. Hence wisdom is said to be the knowledge of divine things, as Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 14). But sacred doctrine essentially treats of God viewed as the highest cause — not only so far as He can be known through creatures just as philosophers knew Him — "That which is known of God is manifest in them" (Romans 1:19) — but also as far as He is known to Himself alone and revealed to others. Hence sacred doctrine is especially called wisdom.

Also, the Summa Theologica itself states that we cannot know God's essence (ousia)

Quote:Now because we do not know the essence of God, the proposition is not self-evident to us; but needs to be demonstrated by things that are more known to us, though less known in their nature — namely, by effects.

So from the beginning, St. Thomas is concerned not with what God is, but what God is not. That St. Thomas does this better than others to the point of saying a lot of what God is not does not make him deserving of any derision. In fact, it makes his works more laudable. The works are not self important. There is nothing to be gained by focusing on them. The works themselves state the End is eternal salvation.
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Re: The Eastern Churches and St. Thomas Aquinas - by Historian - 02-06-2012, 11:59 AM



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