Summary Against Modern Thought: Understanding The Trinity V

Summary Against Modern Thought: Understanding The Trinity V

Previous post.

We’re coming to the end of the contrary arguments. Next week begins the case for the Defense


1 However, since God by understanding Himself understands all else, as Book I showed, but understands Himself by a single simple inward look, since His act of understanding is His act of being, necessarily the Word of God is unique. Since, of course, in divinity the generation of the Son is not other than the conception of the Word. it follows that there is one sole generation in divinity and that a unique Son is alone, begotten by the Father. Hence, John says: “We saw Him, as it were the only-begotten of the Father”; and again: “The only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (1:14, 18).

2 For all that, it seems to follow from the foregoing both that the divine Word has another word and the divine Son another son. For it was shown that the Word of God is true God. Whatever, therefore, belongs to God must belong also to the Word of God. But God necessarily understands Himself. Therefore, the Word of God also understands Himself. If, then, one says that because He understands Himself there is in God a Word begotten by Him, it seems to follow that in the Word so far as He understands Himself one must allow another word. And thus there will be a word of the Word and a son of the Son. And that word, if he be God, will again understand himself and will have another word. In this way, the divine generation will proceed to infinity.

Notes And infinity is a much bigger place than you can imagine.

3 Now, the solution of this difficulty can be gathered from the foregoing. For, when it was shown that the Word of God is God, it was nevertheless shown that He is not a god other than that God whose Word He is, but a God entirely one. In this alone is He distinct from Him: He is the Word proceeding from Him.

But, just as the Word is not another god, so neither is He another intellect; consequently, not another act of understanding; hence, not another word. Neither does it follow from this that there is a word of the Word Himself because the Word understands Himself. For, in this alone is the Word distinguished from the speaker (as we said): that it is from Him. Everything else, therefore, must be attributed commonly to God speaking, who is the Father, and to the Word, who is the Son, precisely because the Word also is God. But this alone: that the Word is from Him must be ascribed properly to the Father; and this alone: being from God speaking must be attributed properly to the Son.

4 From this it is also clear that the Son is not impotent, although He cannot generate a Son, whereas the Father does generate a Son. For the very same power is the Father’s and the Son’s as is the very same divinity. And, since generation in divinity is the intelligible Word’s conception, namely, in that God understands Himself, it must be that the power to generate in God is like the power to understand Himself. And, since the act of understanding Himself is in God one and simple, the power of understanding Himself, which is not other than His act, must be only one power.

Therefore, it is from the same power that the Word is conceived and that the speaker conceives the Word. Hence, it is from the same power that the Father generates and that the Son is generated. Therefore, the Father has no power which the Son does not have, but the Father has the generative power to beget, the Son has it to be begotten; that these are different only in relation is clear from what has been said.

5 However, since the Apostle says that the Son of God has a word from which it seems to follow that there is a son of the Son and a word of the Word, one must weigh the fashion in which the words of the Apostle as he says this are to be understood. He says in Hebrews (1:2-3): “In these days He has spoken to us by His Son,” and, later: “Who being the brightness of His glory and the figure of His substance, and upholding all things by the word of His power,” etc.

Now, our understanding of this must be taken from the things already said, for it was said that the conception of wisdom, which is a word, deserves the name of wisdom for itself. Now, if one goes further, it is apparent that even the exterior effect which comes from the conception of wisdom can be called wisdom in the way in which an effect takes for itself the name of its cause. One’s wisdom is not only that which he thinks out wisely, but also that which be does wisely.

Thus it happens that even the unfolding of divine wisdom by His work in things created is called God’s wisdom; for example, Sirach (1:9-10): “He created her” (wisdom) “in the Holy Spirit”; and later: “And He poured her out upon all His works.” Thus, also, then, what is effected by the Word gets the name of word. Even in our case the expression of the interior word by the voice is called a word, as though it were the “word’s word,” because it tends to manifest the interior word. Thus, then, not only is the conception of the divine intellect called a Word, which is the Son, but even the unfolding of the divinely conceived in exterior works is named the word of the Word. And thus must one understand that the Son upholds all things “by the word of His power,” and thus what one reads in the Psalmist: “Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds which fulfill His word” (Ps. 148:8); and that is this: by the powers of creatures the effects of the divine conception are unfolded in things.

6 However, since God by understanding Himself understands all other things, as was said, the Word conceived in God by His understanding of Himself must also be the Word of all things. Nevertheless, He is not in the very same way the Word of God and of other things. For He is God’s Word as proceeding from Him; and He is the Word of other things, but not as proceeding from them. For God does not gather knowledge from things; rather, by His knowledge He produces things in being, as was shown above. Therefore, the Word of God must for all the things which are made be the perfect existing intelligibility. But how He can be the intelligibility Of things taken singly is manifest from the points treated in Book I. There it was shown that God has a proper knowledge of all things.

7 Whoever, of course, makes anything by understanding does his work through the account of the things made which be has in himself, for the house which is material is made by the builder according to the account of the house which he has in his mind. Now, it was shown above that God produced, things in being not by a natural necessity, but as an intellectual and voluntary agent. Therefore, God made all things by His Word, which is the intelligibility of things made by Him. Hence, we read in John (1:3): “All things were made by Him.”

In agreement with this, Moses, describing the origin of the universe, uses such a manner of speech for the single works: “God said: Be light made and light was made… God said: Let there be a firmament made” (Gen. 1:1-3), and so of the rest, All of which the Psalmist includes, saying: “He spoke and they were made (Ps. 148:5), for to speak is to produce a word. Thus, therefore, one must understand that God spoke and they were made because He produced the Word by which He produced things in being as by their perfect intelligibility.

8 But, since there is identity between the cause of the conservation of things and of their production as all things were made by the Word, so by the Word of God all things are conserved in being. Hence, the Psalmist says: “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were established,” (Ps. 32:6), and the Apostle speaks of the Son “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). How this is to be taken was explained above.

9 One nevertheless ought to know that the Word of God differs from an account in the mind of an artist in this: The Word of God is subsistent God; the account of the artefact in the mind of the artist is not a subsistent thing, but only an intelligible form. But, if a form is not subsistent, it does not properly belong to it to act, for action belongs to a finished and subsistent thing; but the latter acts by the form, for form is the principle by which an agent acts.

Therefore, the plan of the house in the mind of the architect does not build the house; the architect builds it according to the plan. However, the Word of God, which is a plan of things made by God, does, since He is subsistent, act, there is not merely an action through Him. For this reason, the Wisdom of God says: I was with Him forming all things” (Prov. 8:30); and in John (5:17) our Lord says: “My Father works, and I work.”

10 Consideration should also be given to this: A thing made by an understanding pre-exists in the plan understood even before it is in itself, for the house exists in the understanding of the architect before it is brought to actuality.

Now, the Word of God is the knowledge of all those things which are made by God—as was shown. Necessarily, then, all those things which are made by God have pre-existed in the Word of God even before they are in their own proper nature. Now, what is in something is in it in the way proper to that in which it is; it is not in that thing in its own proper manner, for the building in the mind of the architect exists intelligibly and immaterially.

Things must, therefore, be understood to have pre-existed in the Word of God in the manner of the Word Himself. The manner of the Word Himself is this: He is one, simple, immaterial, and not only living but even life, since He is His own being. Necessarily, then, the things made by God have pre-existed in the Word of God from eternity, immaterially, without any composition. Moreover, they can be nothing else in Him but the Word Himself who is life. For this reason, we read: “that which was made in Him,” that is, in the Word, “was life” (John 1:3-4).

11 Now, just as an intellectual agent, because of the account he has in himself, produces things in being, so also a teacher, because of the account he has in himself, causes science in another, since the science of the learner is drawn from the science of the teacher, as a kind of image of the latter. God is not only the cause by His intellect of all things which naturally subsist, but even every intellectual cognition is derived from the divine intellect, as is clear from the foregoing.” Necessarily, then, it is by the Word of God, which is the knowledge of the divine intellect, that every intellectual cognition is caused.

Accordingly, we read in John (1:4): “The life was the light of men,” that is, because the Word Himself who is life and in whom all things are life does, as a kind of light, make the truth manifest to the minds of men. Nor is it a failure of the Word that not all men arrive at a knowledge of the truth, but that some exist in darkness. This comes, rather, from a failure of men who are not converted to the Word and cannot fully grasp Him. Hence, there still remains darkness among men greater or less, as men are more or less converted to the Word and cleave to Him.

Hence, John, to exclude every defect from the clarifying power of the Word when he had said that the “life was the light of men,” adds that it “shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it” (1:5). The darkness is not because the Word does not shine, but because some do not grasp the light of the Word, just as with the light of the bodily sun diffused through the world there is darkness for him whose eyes are closed or weak.

12 Such, then, are the points on divine generation and the power of the only-begotten Son which, taught by holy Scripture, we can in some way comprehend.


  1. C-Marie

    Thank you, St. Thomas Aquinas!!
    Some thing to share about Jesus, Who is the Word of God, as we await next time. Thinking on the Our Father prayer, which the Word of God gave to us, the following came to mind just this afternoon, which idea I had not ever thought of before.

    I do recall a few years back that there was a great carrying-on about the Our Father’s wording. Pope Francis wanted the wording changed to: “do not let s fall into temptation”, but obviously that is not what Jesus taught.

    In the Our Father, Jesus teaches the Apostles and us to pray: ” And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil ….” Matthew 6: 13.

    In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed: “41And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22: 41-42.

    The similarity between Jesus instructing us to pray that Father not lead us into temptation but to deliver us from evil ….. and Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prays “Father if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” for God our Father is leading Jesus into the most horrendous of temptations, is true.

    Three times, Jesus prays to not have to undergo the temptations, and tthe sufferings and the death, of which a horrendous part will be the terrible temptations of the enemy who will try to get Jesus to give up. We know from the Old Testament, that Jesus knew that God would see Him through, even so, Jesus had His own will of His human nature, and that is why He shared this so clearly with us.

    Let us Pray to God our Father that He not lead us into temptation, but that He delivers us from evil, but if He has us go through something, He will see us through. We must trust, for God’s Word says:

    “13No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10: 13.

    Remember, Jesus’ cry, “My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And that is Jesus crying out in the midst of all the devil can throw at Him. No wonder He has us pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
    Jesus’ Agony: Three times Jesus asked that this Cup be removed from Him, and three times His Beloved Father said “No,” to His only Begottne Son, the Word of God.

    “39And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

    42He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” Matthew 26

    God bless, C-Marie

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