In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

TRINITY AND CREATION IN THE THEOLOGY OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS DAVID A. WALKER* St. Francis' Church Nottingham, England Preface IT IS BY NO MEANS fortuitous that, in the Summa Theologiae , St. Thomas's treatise concerning 'the procession of divine persons ' is succeeded immediately by the treatise concerning ' the coming forth of creatures from God '. If both the freedom of the creative act and the full consubstantiality of the divine persons are to be safeguarded, then, for St. Thomas, these two types of ' procession ' must be distinguished at all costs. But although distinct, they are also related in St. Thomas's thought. It is with this fundamental relation that we shall be primarily concerned here. Therefore, the question we shall seek to explore in this study concerns the way in which St. Thomas's doctrine of the Trinity determines, informs and impinges upon his theological understanding of the created order. Creation: The ' One God, and the ' Triune God, St. Thomas's celebrated identification of essence and existence in God has important significance for St. Thomas's doctrine of creation. God, according to St. Thomas, is Creator in virtue of his nature or essence-although, of course, this fact in no way undermines the sovereign freedom and contingency of the creative act. Because it is God's nature simply to be, all being or existence outside God is ultimately traceable back to God as its source *The Rev. Dr. David A. Walker was Team Vicar of St. Francis', Clifton, Nottingham at the time of his death in 1989. This paper was given to The Thomist on his behalf by Dr. Brian Marshall of Westminster College, Oxford. 443 444 DAVID A. WALKER and first cause. Therefore, to speak of God as Creator is to speak of God's essence in operation: " Hence creation is God's action by reason of his existence, which is his very nature ... " 1 The trinitarian significance of this association of creative activity primarily with the divine essence is far reaching. In so far as the divine essence is common to, and identical in, the persons of the Trinity, St. Thomas can maintain that "creative action is not peculiar to any one Person, but is common to the whole Trinity." 2 Creation, therefore, is an act in which the triune God acts as the one God; in which a trinitarian unity of operation corresponds to a trinitarian unity of being. Consequently , the creative act primarily "has to do with the unity of nature, but not with the distinction of persons." 3 However, as we shall subsequently show, this is not St. Thomas's final word on the matter. In the light of this, it is possible to discern in the theology of St. Thomas a fairly clear distinction between truths pertaining to the unity of the divine essence and truths pertaining to the trinity of divine persons. This, indeed, is the basis for the distinction between the ' one God ' (de Deo uno) and the ' triune God' (de Deo trin:o) which operates in his thought. Indeed, this distinction is evident even in the structural arrangement of the Summa Theologiae itself. This distinction is paralleled and determined by the distinction between divine truths accessible to reason and truths accessible to man exclusively through revelation and faith, i.e., between 'natural' and 'revealed' theology. These two distinctions, furthermore, are paralleled by, and culminate in, a third distinction, namely that between nature and grace. But although there is a definite parallel between these three distinctions, it is only an approximate one and must not be construed as if it were an exact correspondence, i.e., as if the truths 1 la, Q.45, a.6. All quotations from the Summa are from Summa Theologiae, Latin text and English translation, Blackfriars edition, gen. ed. Thomas Gilby, 61 vols. (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1964-81). 2 Ibid. s la, Q.32, a.1. THEOLOGY OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 445 pertaining to the one God were exhaustively co-extensive with the spheres of reason and nature, or those relating to the triune God with faith and grace. The fact that reason and nature do not exhaust the realm of truth concerning the one God the...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 443-455
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.