Panentheism.  Revisionism.  Anarchocapitalism.



Essays by Me

Essays by Others

From The Journal of Religion, 70:1, January 1990, 36-47.  Hallman gives articulate voice to my long-held impression (a) that Thomists, following the Saint, affirm that God is both being itself and a being and (b) that these affirmations are not mutually consis-tent.  Constructively, Hallman uncouples the two notions, turning to Whitehead’s philosophy to ground the distinction between creativity (indeterminate and unknowable) and God (knowing and knowable, loving and lovable), creativity’s primordial deter-mination. 

“Pure creativity cannot be God because it has no character.  It is simply a descrip-tive term, not for God, nor God beyond God, nor a person, but an aspect of the one God in two natures.  The focusing of creativity through the divine instantiation does not take it away from all other actual entities but merely organizes it lawfully.  Creativity is certainly Godlike, but unknowable, known only through its in-stantiations.  It simply is.  Creativity is not God the Father of Christian tradition.” 

One implication of this, as I interpret it, is that it is not the doctrine of God that is “apophatic” (i.e., proceeds by way of negation), but rather the doctrine of creativity.

See also Hallman’s The Necessity of the World in Thomas Aquinas and Alfred North Whitehead on this site.

Anthony Flood

April 14, 2008

The Mistake of Thomas Aquinas and the Trinity of A. N. Whitehead 

Joseph M. Hallman

College of Saint Thomas


Thomas Aquinas discussed God’s existence and nature in a systematic and coherent way in the Summa Theologiae.  The description of God that emerged in this work is continuous with Christian tradition in nearly all important respects except one. Thomas contributed and refined Aristotle’s idea that divine existence is purely actual, that it is what it is totally and completely and cannot become anything other than what it is.1

I intend to argue that the assertion that God is actus purus is essentially negative, then to specify the various problems that arise when it is applied to God’s knowledge and will.  I believe that the root of these problems is a mistake on the part of Thomas that is evident in the text itself.  He moved from an assertion that ultimate reality is pure actuality or nonpotentiality to a concept or idea of a divine supreme being that has the fullness of actuality.  And although his view of the divine emotions that Scripture ascribes to God is consistent with this divine nonpotentiality, it creates yet another problem.  Because God has no potentiality, there simply cannot be a divine emotive life, even for a loving deity.

Finally I will appropriate Thomas’s understanding of God in what may be an unorthodox Whiteheadian manner, attempting thereby to outline a consistent theory of God’s being, knowledge, will, and feelings. I will argue that the doctrine of the Trinity is a necessary part of the philosophical discussion of these issues.2  As is well known, the Summa (Pt. 1, Q.2, a.3) begins with the famous five ways to show that God exists.  In my reading, there is a unifying thread continuing from the first way to the end of the entire discussion of the one God in this work (Q.1-26), and it is the heart of Thomas’s understanding of God.  The divine is purely actual, containing nothing of potentiality.

The initial observation of Thomas that some things are observably in motion, meaning that all observable things move, refers to the fact that all things have potentiality.  Motion is not merely movement in space or time but also refers to any and all change, change that he describes as the reduction of potentiality to actuality.

Thomas eliminates two ultimate explanations for change, (1) that things change themselves and (2) that there is an infinite chain of changers.  He then gives his only other explanation for change, that there is a first mover, itself unmoved, that all understand to be God.  Although implied in the conclusion to the first way, it is only clearly stated in the next question (Q.3, a.1—”Whether God is a body”) that God has no potentiality but is purely actual.

In the first way, Thomas demonstrates the existence of pure actuality (for this term read “absolute nonpotentiality”).  This actuality functions as the context within which he derives all of the divine attributes.  It is important to note that Thomas does not directly demonstrate the existence of “God,” but only the existence of a pure actuality that all understand to be God (omnes intelligunt Deum).  The importance of the distinction I make here will become clear later.  I am not interested in questions about the validity and significance of these demonstrations, but only in the conclusion that there is, in existence, one case of absolute nonpotentiality.

The introduction to the third question on divine simplicity contains a remarkable and important statement (my translation): “When the existence of a thing has been known there remains the further question of how it is in order that we may know what it is.  Now because we cannot know what God is, but rather what he is not, we are not able to consider how God is, but rather how he is not.  First therefore we must consider how he is not; secondly, how he is known by us; thirdly, how he is named.”  The topics Thomas will consider, which show how God is not, include not only simplicity (noncomposition), infinity (nonfinity), and immutability (nonmutability) but also divine perfection (I suggest “nonimperfection”) and unity (nonduality).  In other words, all the material from Questions 3-11 is an exercise in negative theology.

From the five ways, then, we know that God is, but only what God is not.  Hence God is not a body (Q.3, a.1) because He is not moved, that is, has no potentiality.  For the same reason, God has no matter (Q.3, a.2), and there is no distinction between divine essence and existence (Q.3, a.4, second reason).  God’s lack of potentiality is also one reason to argue that God is absolutely simple and is, perhaps, the main one (Q.3, a.7).

When Thomas deals with divine perfection, pure actuality again appears as the main reason, “for things are called perfect when they have achieved actuality” (Q.4, a.1).3  Once again, it is important to read perfect actuality negatively.  Perfect actuality equals absolute nonpotentiality.  The next step is to define goodness the same way: “Now clearly desirability is consequent upon perfection, for things always desire their perfection.  And the perfection of a thing depends on how far it has achieved actuality. It is clear then that a thing is good inasmuch as it exists, for as we saw above it is by existing that everything achieves actuality” (Q.5, a.1).  Since God is purely actual, God is perfect goodness and the supreme object of desire.

In Question 9, when Thomas considers God’s immutability, pure actuality is at the heart of his argument.  The sed contra is Mal. 3:6, “I am God, I change not.”  Then Thomas begins with a reference to what preceded this discussion.  It was shown above that “there must be some first existent called God, sheerly actual and unalloyed with potentiality. . . . Now any changing thing, whatsoever the change, is somehow potential.  So it clearly follows that God cannot change in any way” (Q. 9, a.1).

Next he describes various forms of immutability to show that only God is completely immutable. Creatures such as angels share some types of immutability, but only God is exempt from all mutability, whether the universal or specific corruptibility of things, motion in space, or changing one’s end.  Angels, for instance, share two kinds of immutability but do have mutability of place (Q. 9, a.2, reply 2).  Thomas derives God’s eternity from immutability since “whatever is wholly immutable can have no succession, so it has no beginning and no end” (Q.10, a.1).  God also shares eternity like immutability at least partially with creatures (Q.10, a.3).  Finally, Thomas argues that God is one (Q.11).

It is important to recall that the foregoing questions were an exercise in negative theology, showing us what God is not.4  To the careful reader of these questions, it seems that Thomas has not held to his introductory intentions in discussing God’s goodness and perfection.  These certainly sound like positive attributes.  Thomas takes the fatal step, however, in the introduction to Question 12, which contradicts the introductory assertion of Question 3: “Having considered what God is in himself, we turn now to consider what our minds can make of him; how in fact is he known by his creatures?”5

The least one can say is that Thomas vacillates on the question of what we can know about God “secundum se ipsum.”  This gives credence to the opinion of Ivor Leclerc in a recent and very perceptive article, that God in the system of Thomas is conceived as a being rather than as being itself or pure nonpotentiality, in spite of Thomas’s intention to the contrary.6

The obvious question about Question 12 on how God is known by us, and on Question 13, which develops the theory of analogy, is whether Thomas has moved illegitimately from the via negativa to the assumption that there are other valid and meaningful ways to know God.  The separated soul is capable of direct knowledge of God (Q.12, a.1) by grace (a.4), although it cannot comprehend God (a.7).  How can we have a doctrine of analogy unless something about God is knowable “secundum se ipsum”? Thomas has given us no good reasons to support the contention that God is knowable in this sense.7  He vacillates between the understanding that God is pure act, that is, absolute nonpotentiality, or being itself whose essence is unknowable, and a being that is the supreme instance of actuality yet is partially knowable.

When Thomas discusses the divine knowledge and will, the problem becomes even more obvious. His view of God as absolute nonpotentiality does not allow for a meaningful discussion of these attributes or the following ones, such as God’s love, justice, mercy, providence, predestination, power, and happiness. Although these are important theological descriptions, they concern a being who is in some way knowable as such, not being itself in its pure actuality.

Question 14, article 1 attempts to describe God’s knowledge, yet knowledge is in all respects ridden with potentiality even in Thomas’s own epistemology.  Hence the attempt fails.  God’s being, intellect, act of understanding, and object understood are identical.  Indeed, they must be identical in order to preserve pure actuality since any distinction among them indicates potentiality.  To state and to maintain the identities is in fact to admit that God is not a knower at all.  Instead, God is the creator, as Thomas states in Q.4, a.8.  God’s knowledge (read “God’s being”) is the cause of things, and this is all that it can be.  The next article creates even more problems.  God is said to know nonexistent things by a nonsuccessive vision, that is, things that were or will be.  In the divine knowledge of vision, the future and past really exist now, and our sense of their distinct and real asymmetry is an illusion.  God causes the past, present, and future to be eternally and simultaneously.  While this is consistent with God’s pure actuality, it is radically at odds with our sense of the nonexistence of the past and future and the reality of the present and of free decision.

In the thirteenth article of this question, Thomas argues that future contingent things are known infallibly by God in their presentness, something that seems clearly impossible if we hold that the future is truly future.  If he is correct, the contingent future exists now as present since it cannot be merely visualized by God unless God has an intellect that differs from the creative divine essence.  Whatever God “sees,” is.

God also has knowledge of things that were not, are not, nor will be, although they are possible.  This is definitely inconsistent with the claim that God is purely actual and that God’s knowledge is the cause of things.  In order for God to know the possible that never comes into existence, God must contain potentiality.  I believe that Thomas is correct in assigning this knowledge to God but that, in his scheme, it is impossible.8  For Thomas the divine way of knowing implies either the simultaneous existence of the past, present, and future or potentiality of some kind.  There can be no real distinction between God’s being and mind, or mind and knowing.

The inconsistency in Thomas’s treatment of God’s knowledge reappears in his discussion of God’s will because the concept of will likewise has no meaning apart from potentiality.  With no real distinction between being and willing, and between willing and not willing, the term “will” means nothing.  Yet these distinctions incorrigibly imply potentiality.  Thomas devises brilliant strategies to escape this dilemma in Question 19 and elsewhere, wishing especially to avoid the possibility that God wills creatures by necessity or could be indicted for willing evil (Q.19, a.9).9


God’s Feelings

Like Augustine before him, Thomas discusses biblical passages about divine repentance, jealousy, and anger together, but he includes other emotions as well, such as hope, desire, sorrow, and feeling pain.  Some of these passages, such as Gen. 6:6-7, where God repents that he created the human race, and the many biblical references to divine anger and jealousy, have always presented problems for the doctrine of immutability and impassibility.  In the Summa Contra Gentiles, Book I, Chapter 89, Thomas states that the passions of affect (passiones affectum) are not in God and that one of the reasons is that God has no potentiality.  Some passions are also excluded by the nature of their species, such as sorrow and pain, because their objects are evil.  The objects of hope and desire are likewise improper for God because God cannot acquire anything.  Fear is excluded on two counts, “both because it belongs only to a being that is in potentiality, and because its object is an evil that can become present.” Repentance, jealousy, and anger are removed from God because of their relation to sorrow.

Repentance is repugnant to God because it “is a kind of sorrow and because it implies a change of will.”  Envy is also a “kind of sorrow.”  It “grieves over the good of another, and thus judges another’s good as its own evil.”  Anger is excluded “because it is an effect of sorrow, but also it is a desire for vengeance on account of sorrow arising from a harm inflicted.” 

Thomas is aware of the principal problem texts in the theological tradition, such as Gen. 6:6 and Jer. 18:9, and opposes them to solution texts that are likewise traditional, such as 1 Kings 15:29.10  For Thomas, the repentance, jealousy, and anger texts are metaphorical.  In the case of Jonah, for example, God is said to repent metaphorically insofar as he changes his sentence or decision but not his will.11  

Although God does not have the affective passion, he does experience love and joy, says Thomas.  “Joy springs from a present good.  Thus neither because of its object which is a good, nor because of the way in which it is referred to that object, which is actually possessed, is joy. . . repugnant to the divine perfection.”12  God’s true object of joy, however, can only be the divine self.  Even when God delights in other things, he “rejoices in himself in other things.” Concerning God’s love, Thomas reasons that, since there is will in God, there is love.13  It is clear that God loves creatures as well as the divine self.14  But in what does that love consist?  It is simply the act of creation.  It is correct to say that God loves us because God causes us to be.  And in this loving, just as in God’s joy, there is no passio.15  For Thomas, God’s pure actuality as the cause of things is the same as God’s love for creatures.  The divine Father is the Unmoved Mover.  Thus the divine love for creatures is merely a verbal addition to the earlier discussion of God in the Summa Theologiae.

Contemporary Thomists have written several articles on the question of God’s ability to relate to the world.16  The common thread in these articles is a distinction between God’s ontological essence and divine intentional being.  Supposedly the first remains immutable, while the second, God’s knowledge, is capable of change.  To put it in Thomistic terms, God as ontological cannot have a real relation to the world, but only a rational relation, existing in the human mind alone.17  But, his modern defenders say, such is not the case with intentional being, God’s knowing and loving.  There, God is capable of a real relation with the world involving a change in the divine intentional being.

Yet this simply carries on the major inconsistency in Thomas himself, which I described above.  There is no way to distinguish between the ontological and the intentional being of God without introducing potentiality into the divine.  And if potentiality is introduced, God is no longer actus purus.  Hence Thomas’s view of God needs to be revised more radically.  Western religious faith certainly conceives of a God who is knowable and lovable, who has knowledge and will, and who is in some sense personal.  At the same time, is not the assertion that God is purely actual, or some form of that assertion, possibly correct?  Theology may be able to combine this insight of Thomas with an understanding that God also has a perfect form of potentiality.  In the Whiteheadian view, God has just such a form, both abstractly and concretely.18


Whitehead’s Trinity

In outline form, Whitehead’s conception of God is well known.  To summarize very briefly, God has two natures, primordial and consequent.   The primordial divine nature is the reservoir of eternal objects that are felt as future possibilities in the cosmos; the consequent nature inherits the past.  Through this nature God feels everything that comes into existence.   Thus initial aims for all entities come from God via the primordial nature; the concrete realities of the world are perfectly preserved by God via the consequent nature after these entities are complete.

Less well known, perhaps, is Whitehead’s discussion of creativity, which was the “universal of universals” in his metaphysical scheme.  He developed this notion in three stages: it is called “substantial activity” in Science and the Modern World; creativity is a “formative element” in Religion in the Making; and finally, creativity is one of the three notions that make up the category of the ultimate in Process and Reality.19  As the concept evolved in Whitehead’s thought, creativity became more and more characterless, or unknowable.20  At the same time, he maintains the ontological principle as one of the key features of metaphysics, that is, as Whitehead puts it, “no actual entity, then no reason.”21  Creativity seems to violate this principle because Whitehead uses it in an explanatory way. Garland’s convincing argument is that, although creativity is not an actual entity, it can be used as an explanation in spite of the ontological principle because it describes everything ultimately.  It accounts for the “ongoingness of time and the connectedness which obtains in the universe.”22  In other words, this ultimate explanation is exempt from the ontological principle.

As an actual entity, the knowable God is both primordial and consequent.  Whitehead describes the functions of each nature.  That he sometimes loses sight of their unity is partially explained by the fact that the relation between the two natures and creativity is seldom presented.  The unity of the two natures is grounded in the fact that both together are the divine “many becoming one” as the primordial instantiation of creativity.

I believe that the pure act that Thomas discovered in the first way is the same as creativity in Whitehead.  Thomas mistakenly confuses the unknowable pure act with God as knowable, that is, God as personal being who knows and wills. Whitehead correctly avoids the term “God” for creativity.  Nevertheless, of the thirty or so references to creativity in Process and Reality, nearly half describe it as either transcendent or ultimate.23  “Creativity is the ultimate behind all forms, inexplicable by forms, and conditioned by its creatures. . . . It is the universal of universals characterizing ultimate matter of fact.  It is that ultimate principle by which the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively.”24 Creativity is “the pure notion of activity conditioned by the objective immortality of the actual world. “25 Although it has no character of its own, “It is that ultimate notion of the highest generality at the base of actuality.”26  Essentially, creativity explains the transition from the many to the one in Whitehead’s system, and no reason can be given as to why this is the case beyond it.  It is, in and of itself, unknowable.

To say that it is unknowable is not to say it is truly such and such, and that we do not happen to know what that such and such is.  Rather, it is strictly unknowable apart from any exemplification. Although Thomists generally claim that the pure act of Thomas is unknowable in itself, some treat the term “esse” as though it expressed a concept that actually corresponds to a particular being, a being who is supreme, immutable, perfect, creator of the world.  One attractive feature of the transcendental Thomism of Rahner and Lonergan is their attempt to overcome this objectifying tendency.27  The mystery of God is the creative otherness for which no reason can be given.  This is primordially exemplified in the divine case.  Creativity pours itself out in God as its primordial instantiation.  Yet God is also knowable primordially and, consequently, in creation and revelation as a supreme personal being.

Several authors influenced by Whitehead have approached the question of the Trinity somewhat differently.  Wilmot holds that in the last chapter of Process and Reality, “Creativity is now clearly hypostasized and treated as itself a purposive agency.”28  In this interpretation, Whitehead “found it necessary to hypostasize the Ultimate in order to save the system from incoherence.”29  I find this argument weak.  Creativity is mentioned only twice in the last chapter.  The first states the following: “The primordial nature of God is that acquirement by creativity of a primordial character.”30  This passage is obviously nonhypostatic since the primordial nature of God gives creativity its character.

The second passage is the only one to which Wilmot can appeal.  “God and the World are the contrasted opposites in terms of which Creativity [capitalized] achieves its supreme task.”31  The text need not indicate that creativity is philosophically hypostasized, but only figuratively so.  In the light of Whitehead’s many other statements about the matter, this is clearly a better interpretation.

Because he himself hypostasizes creativity as an impersonal penultimate principle, Wilmot finds it necessary to go beyond it in the category of the Ultimate to “something more fundamental lying behind it. . . . Through revelation this ultimate has been disclosed to mankind as creative love, the love of a personal God who while transcendent is at the same time immanent and actively at work in the world.”32  He appeals to the Trinitarian theology of Athanasius as a corrective for Whitehead.  The problem here is that Athanasius himself is not a full-blown philosophical Trinitarian.  Since his concern is mainly soteriological and christological, in his approach “philosophical and cosmological considerations played a very minor part.”33  And so far as Whitehead is concerned, to multiply understandings of God beyond creativity, primordial and consequent divine natures seems unnecessary.  He can explain what needs explaining both philosophically and theologically by means of these constructs.

Bracken’s approach gives more individuality to the Father, Son, and Spirit.  He conceives God to be “not a single non-temporal actual entity, but rather a structured society of three subsocieties. . . . These three ‘personally ordered’ subsocieties . . . combine to produce the structured society which is their reality as one God.”34  This revision of Whitehead may be useful for Christian theological purposes but does not seem to cohere internally with the metaphysical system that gave it birth.  Each of the elements of Whitehead’s doctrine of God flow from his philosophy: creativity, because it is the universal generalization about reality—the many become one; the primordial nature, because it ultimately explains initial aim, hence order in the world; the consequent nature of God, because of the ontological principle—God, if used as an explanation, must be an actual entity, hence needs an avenue of reception from the world.  This Trinity is more Whiteheadian than Bracken’s.

I submit that a theological reevaluation of Trinitarian theology should not expect to find the old immanent three of the classical understanding complete with the perichoresis.  Most of the approaches to christology, which is certainly the starting point for Trinitarian thought, seem to disallow it.  Perhaps it was only a disguised form of tritheism from which theology is now recovering.

My approach has most in common with that of Lewis Ford.  Like him, I mistrust the use of the term “person” for the three because it causes confusion.34 (Here we are both in the good company of Saint Augustine!)  Ford wants to maintain the nondivinity of creativity and find the third “person” in “the aboriginal nontemporal act from which all aspects of God are generated. . . . The nontemporal activity must result in some sort of definite, atemporal unity, while the primordial nature must be the outcome of some sort of nontemporal activity.”36  I cannot agree that the act of envisagement or of divine unification can be distinguished from the primordial nature or from God’s creativity.  The term “act” is incurably temporal, indicating a before and after, that is, a temporal decision.  Since such cannot be the case in eternity, no such distinction can be made.  Divine unity is explained by the same creativity that operates everywhere, bringing the abstract and concrete together as the many become one, for which no explanation can be given.

I do agree, however, that we should not use the term “God” for creativity.  Creativity is not only primordially instantiated but is also shared by all actual entities, and the freedom of those entities is at stake.  Pure creativity cannot be God because it has no character.  It is simply a descriptive term, not for God, nor God beyond God, nor a person, but an aspect of the one God in two natures.  The focusing of creativity through the divine instantiation does not take it away from all other actual entities but merely organizes it lawfully.  Creativity is certainly Godlike, but unknowable, known only through its instantiations.  It simply is.  Creativity is not God the Father of Christian tradition.

The term “Father” is Jesus’ word for the God of Israel, not creativity.  We should not see anything other than a rough correspondence here, especially in a culture that needs feminine symbols for the divine rather than a philosophical justification for this term.  “Logos” is already a philosophical word, so there is an easy comparison between it and the primordial nature.  But this is not the case for the Spirit and the consequent nature.  “In a very real sense the Spirit and the consequent nature are opposites, since the Spirit makes it possible for God to be immanent in the world, . . . while the consequent nature makes it possible for the world to be immanent in God.”37

Hence there is no neat or strict one-on-one identity with the Christian symbol of the Trinity to be gained from Whitehead.  Nevertheless, he did discover a basic ultimate triplicity in the world at large, a one-in-three found independently of Christian teaching.  This provides at least a rational backdrop for the Trinitarian image of God.

To say that creativity is, is to contrast it to any of its forms, that is, to any given creature, God included.  It is not this, not that.  We may also contrast it to a theoretical state of affairs in which the many would remain many and not be increased by one, a multiverse of static nontransition.  We know that creativity is from observation of the universe and ourselves, yet we do not know what it is, but only what its creatures are.  The sole appeal is to intuition, an inference knowing that but not what, or knowing existence but not essence.  It is essenceless, having only the character that entities condition it to have, primordially, God.

We should forgo the use of the term “God” for creativity because “God” should refer to a being. Creativity is unknowable in itself, but primordially revealed in God’s essence, which is primordial and consequent.  God’s primordial nature, knowable by reflection on the cosmos in Whitehead, is the Logos revealed in Torah and in Jesus as well.  The existence of the consequent nature, knowable theoretically because God is an actual entity, is concretely revealed to Christians as God’s intimate receptive presence in the community.  Creativity is incomprehensible mystery, primordial nature is the eternal immutable reservoir of ordered potentiality, and the consequent nature is everlasting ever-present divine receptivity.  Both divine natures “proceed from” or are “begotten by” creativity, to use the traditional terminology.

Whiteheadian conceptuality easily expresses God’s knowledge and will.  The divine presence in the cosmos exerts a lure for entities to come into existence, aiming at their best form of self-construction.  God wills this and knows perfectly, through the consequent nature, the past of each entity.  God does not, however, have infallible knowledge of future contingents, thus resolving the problems of foreknowledge and predestination.  Yet the divine call is perfect, although not perfectly achieved by temporal entities.  Their own self-creativity determines their outcome in a final and decisive way.

This approach seems to lead to a portrayal of God which is both biblical and traditional, as well as internally consistent.  I hope it preserves the oneness of God, as well as the reality of the Trinity. 



1 E. Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (New York: Random House, 1956), p. 102. References to the Summa Theologiae will be by Part (Pt.), Question (Q.), and article (a.).

2 See esp. W. Waite Willis, Jr., Theism, Atheism, and the Doctrine of the Trinity (Atlanta: Scholars, 1987). He argues persuasively that Christians need the doctrine of the Trinity for the refutation of atheism.

3 “Unde primum principium activum oportet maxime esse in actu, et per consequens maxime perfectum.  Secundum hoc enim dicitur aliquid esse perfectum, quod est actu, nam perfectum dicitur, cui nihil deest secundum modum suae perfectionis.”  I used the Blackfriars edition of the Summa TheologWe (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963) for Latin and English translation as well unless otherwise indicated. Translations from Summa Contra Gentiles are mine. The edition is Opera Omnia (New York: Masurgia, 1948).

4 Gilson, chap. 5. Notice the difference in R. Garrigou-Lagrange, The One God (St. Louis: Herder, 1943), pp. 30-31.

5 “Quia in superioribus consideravimus qualiter Deus sit secundum se ipsum, restat considerandum qualiter sit in cognitione nostra, idest quomodo cognoscatur a creaturis.”

6 I. Leclerc, “The Problem of God in Whitehead’s System,” Process Studies 14, no. 4 (Winter 1985): 312.

7 Gilson, pp. 105-6. See Burton Z. Cooper, The Idea of God: A Whiteheadian Critique of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Concept of God (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1974), p. 82.

8 For Whitehead, God’s knowledge of the possible becomes a persuasive lure for the process and, one hopes, for the progress of creation.

9 See my article, “The Necessity of the World in Thomas Aquinas and Alfred North Whitehead,” Modern Schoolman 60, no. 4 (May 1983): 264-72.

10 See also Ps. 109:5; 1 Tim. 6:16; Ps. 101:28; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17.  These texts recur in the tradition as Christian authors wrestle with the question.  On this see Summa Theologiae Pt.1, Q.19, a.7, objections (objs.) 1 and 2 and replies; II-II.  Q.171, a.6, obj. 2; II-II. Q.83, a.2, obj. 2; Commentum in Primum Librum Sententiarum Magistri Petri Lombardi, Distinctio VIII, prologue et quaestio III, articulus primus (Commentary on the first book of the sentences of Peter the Lombard, distinction 8, prologue and question 3, article 1); Summa contra Gentiles, bk. 1, chap. 91.

11 “Inquantum ad modum poenitentis se habet, prout scilicet mutat sententiam, etsi non mutet consilium.” Summa Theologiae, II-II Q.171, a.6, reply 2; also Pt.1, Q.19, a.7, reply 2.

12 Summa Contra Gentiles, bk. 1, chap. 90.

13 Summa Theologiae, Pt.1, Q.20, a.1.

14 Summa Contra Gentiles, bk. I, chap. 91; Commentum in Tertium Librum Sententiarum Magistri Petri Lombardi, Distinctio XXXII, quaestio I, articulus primus (Commentary on the third book of the sentences of Peter the Lombard, distinction 32, question 1, article 1).

15 Summa Theologiae, Pt.1, Q.20, a.2.

16 For a summary of the problem and the recent literature defending Thomas, see Thomas G. Weinandy, Does God Change? The Word’s Becoming in the Incarnation (Still River, Mass.: St. Bede’s, 1985), chap. 3, pp. 66-100.

17 Summa Theologiae, Pt.1, Q.13, a.7; Weinandy, pp. 87-100.

18 All of these questions about God’s knowledge and will are aptly summarized by John C. Moskop, Divine Omniscience and Human Freedom: Thomas Aquinas and Charles Hartshorne (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1984), chaps. 2-3.

19 A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: Free Press, 1967), pp. 107, 123, 165, Religion in the Making (New York: Meridian, 1960), pt.3, and Process and Reality, corrected ed. (New York: Free Press, 1978).

20 I am basing this construct on the argument of William J. Garland, “The Ultimacy of Creativity,” in Explorations in Whitehead’s Philosophy, ed. Lewis Ford and George Kline (New York: Fordham, 1983), pp. 212-38.

21 Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 19.

22 Garland, p. 226.

23 Whitehead, Process and Reality, pp. 7, 20, 26, 43, 87, 88, 102, 108, 222, 237, 277, 280, 348.

24 Ibid., pp. 20, 21.

25 Ibid., p. 31.

26 Ibid., p. 31.

27 See Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology (New York: Herder, 1974), pt. 1, chap. 4; and Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith (New York: Crossroad, 1986), chaps. 1-4.

28 Laurence F. Wilmot, Whitehead and God: Prolegomena to Theological Reconstruction (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1979), p. 66.

29 Ibid., p. 101; also p. 131.

30 Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 344.

31 Ibid., p. 348.

32 Wilmot, p. 152.

33 J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, rev. ed. (New York: Harper, 1978).

34 Joseph A. Bracken, The Triune Symbol: Persons, Process, and Community (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1985), p. 44.

35 Lewis S. Ford, The Lure of God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978), p. 105.  [Since the publication of Hallman’s article, Ford has reconceived God as the activity of the future and therefore as temporal.—A.F.]

36 Ibid.

37 Ibid., p. 103.

Posted April 14, 2008

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