Theology and Mystery - Part 4

From St. Thomas’ treatment of God’s goodness, we know:

  1. that the account of goodness from created things belongs also to God;
  2. that the account of goodness is not said in the same way of created and uncreated things; and
  3. that the way in which God is good exceeds the way in which anything we can experience directly is good.1
Far from destroying the mystery of God, this knowledge intensifies it by pointing out that God’s goodness exceeds any goodness we can directly know in created things. Thus the believer’s possible objection against pursuing formal theology because it infringes upon the ineffability of God is proven blasphemous. For if this opposition were true, God must be such that we are capable of comprehending Him and His attributes. Theology, on the contrary, proves this impious notion false by demonstrating that the attributes of creatures bear an analogous similarity to the attributes of God, which cannot by fully understood by our intellects. The security of God’s transcendence is not a question of the amount of knowledge possible, as if more knowledge would encroach His mystery; the limitation of theology, rather, comes from the kind of knowledge that is possible of God in this life. Therefore, we should never fear that theology, however formal, precise and thorough, will lead to a smug satisfaction in having comprehended God. Instead, we should strive to know as much as we can about the Highest Subject and stand in awe at the mystery uncovered.

1. c.f. S.T., 1, q.XII, a.12


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