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Article Seven

Whether God is the Subject of This Science

We proceed to the seventh article thus:

1. It seems that God is not the subject of this science. The philosopher says that the subject of any science must be presupposed (1 Post. An.). But sacred doctrine does not presuppose what God is. Indeed, as the Damascene says, “it is impossible to say what is in God” (3 De Fid. Orth. 24). It follows that God is not the subject of this science.

2. Again, the conclusions of any science are all contained in its subject. But in sacred Scripture conclusions are reached about many things other than God, for example, about creatures, and the customs of men. It follows that God is not the subject of this science.

On the other hand: it is its main theme that is the subject of a science, and the main theme of this science is God. It is indeed called theology because its theme is God. It follows that God is the subject of this science.

I answer: God is the subject of this science. Its subject is related to a science as is its object to a power or habit. Now that under the aspect of which all things are referred to any power or habit is rightly named as the object of that power or habit. 44Thus a man and a stone are referred to sight because they are coloured, and hence colour is the proper object of sight. Likewise all things are viewed by sacred doctrine under the aspect of God, either because they are God himself, or because they have God for their beginning or end. It follows that God is truly the subject of this science. This is indeed obvious from its principles, the articles of faith, which are about God. The subject of the principles and the subject of the whole science are the same, since the whole science is virtually contained in its principles. Anyone who attends to the matters with which it deals without attending to the aspect under which it views them may indeed attribute a different subject to this science, such as things, signs, the work of salvation, or Christ in his fullness as both Head and members. Sacred doctrine deals with all of these things, but deals with them in their relation to God.

On the first point: although we cannot know what God is, in this doctrine we can use the effects of God, whether of nature or of grace, in place of a definition of the divine things of which the doctrine treats. We similarly use an effect in place of a definition of a cause in certain philosophical sciences, when we demonstrate something about a cause by means of its effect.

On the second point: all other things about which sacred Scripture reaches conclusions are comprehended in God, not indeed as parts or species or accidents, but as related to God in some way.

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