St. Edmund Campion Catechism Group - Series 2 Lesson 15


Podcast: Who is God?
Podcast: Notes

Magisterium: Dei Filius

Catechism: Q16-20
Catholic Encyclopedia: 
Aquinas 101: 
Pints with Aquinas: 
CTS: Who is God?
Summa Theologica: Prima Pars Q1a4ad2, Q1a7ad1
Companion to the Summa: Chp 2

Who is God?

  1. Introduction:

    - Faith: Faith is the supernatural virtue which renders the intellect entirely obedient to the will when God reveals a truth, because of the authority of God revealing.

    - Reason: The act by which the conclusion of a demonstration is reached.

    Knowledge of God: We can know God by faith and reason.

       - Divine Revelation (Scripture and Tradition) is the source of the knowledge of God by faith.

       - Observation of the natural world gives us knowledge of God by reason.

       - Theology (Divine Revelation unpacked by reason) gives us knowledge of God by both faith and reason.
  2. Nature of God

    - God is defined as ipse esse subsistens (subsistent being existing of Himself) or Actus Purus (Pure Act). God is in potential to nothing because He is everything: "I am Who am."

  3. Attributes of God as the Divine Being

    (a) God is absolutely perfect (De fide): That which is absolutely perfect unites within itself all possible excellences. 

        - As God is the first cause of all created things and so virtually contains in Himself all the perfections of every created thing.

    (b) God is inifinite: God has no limit. He cannot be measured in any way.

        - God is actually infinite in every perfection (De fide). 

        - All perfections in created things are participations in the infinite perfection of God and so reflect the infinite perfection of God. All unity, truth, beauty and goodness in nature reflect the unity, truth, beauty and goodness of God.

    (c) God is absolutely simple (De fide)

        - God is not composed of parts (He is not divisible) which means that God is not a physical substance (which is necessarily divisible), but a spiritual substance.

        - God does not have perfections added to Him (as a man would have virtues), but He is those perfections. God is love, justice, wisdom, power etc.

    (d) God is one (De fide)

         - Credo in unum Deum

         - There can be only one infinite and absolutely perfect being, cause of all other beings.

    (e) God is the True God (De fide).

         - Truth is divided into ontological truth (the conformity of a being to the divine intention) or logical truth (the conformity of a concept in the intelligence to the reality).

         - God is necessarily conformed to Himself and so is Ontological Truth

         - God's knowledge of Himself (and necessarily of all His creatures) is the same as Himself and so is Logical Truth.

    (f) God is Goodness (De fide)

         - Definition: A thing is good in as much as it possess the perfections belonging to its nature (eg. a good horse is one that possess all the perfections of horsiness).

        - God is the perfections belonging to His nature, so God is Goodness (Ontological or Substantial Good) in relation to Himself and others.

        - As the possession of truth is perfection of the intellect, the possession of good is perfection of the will. God is the perfect possession of both truth and good, so God is Truth and Goodness.

        - It is the property of goodness to diffuses itself (bonum diffusivum sui). God, by His nature, diffuses His goodness by permitting creatures to share in His perfections in the natural and supernatural order.

    (g) God is absolute Beauty 

        - Definition: Beauty is the union of (i) intregity or completeness (ii) due proportion and (iii) resplendance (claritas) in a thing. 

        - In God, because He is (i) absolute perfection, (ii) absolutely simple and (iii) infinitely resplendent, then He is Substantial Beauty.

    (h) God is absolutely immutable (De fide)

        - As Actus Purus, God is in potential to nothing: He is a pure spirit (no matter), simple and infinite perfection. 

    (i) God is eternal (De fide)

        - God has no beginning or end.

    (j) God is immense (De fide)

        - God is immeasurable in every way.

        - God is omnipresent (uncircumscribed by place) in three ways: by His essence, by His knowledge and by His power.

  4. Attributes of God's Divine Life

    (a) God's knowlege is infinite (De fide)

        - All God's knowledge is actual.

        - God knows the past present and future of all things created.

        - God knows all possible pasts, presents and futures of all things created.

    (b) God' will is infinite (De fide)

        - God loves Himself of necessity.

        - God loves creatures with freedom.

        - God is almighty (De fide)

        - God does not love evil.

        - God is infinitely just (De fide)

        - God is inifinitely merciful (De fide)