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A Manual of Catholic Theology

A Manual of Catholic Theology

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Published by Victor Sundaram

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Published by: Victor Sundaram on Apr 03, 2012
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A Manual Of Catholic Theology, Based On Scheeben's “Dogmatik”
Joseph Wilhelm, D.D., PHD. And Thomas B. Scannell, D.D.With A Preface By Cardinal Manning
Vol. 1. The Sources Of Theological Knowledge, God, Creation And The Supernatural OrderThird Edition, Revised, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Lt.New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Benziger Bros.1906[Pp. 154-174]BOOK II. GOD.The natural and usual division of the treatise on God is founded upon the Unity of the DivineSubstance and the Trinity of the Divine Persons. While, however, opposing the Unity to the Trinity, as
is done in the division “Of God as One,” and “Of God as Three” (
De Deo Uno, De Deo Trino 
), we shallhere connect them organically by first studying the Existence and Nature of God, then the Divine Life,and, lastly, the Divine Internal Activity, whereby the One Substance is communicated to the ThreeDivine Persons.PART I.GOD CONSIDERED AS ONE IN SUBSTANCE.The Fathers treat of God as One when they speak of Creation against pagans and Manichaeans.They enter more into detail in their polemical writings on the Trinity and Incarnation, especially againstthe Arians;
St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa,
Contra Eunonium 
; St. Hilary,
De Trinitate; 
and, aboveall, St. Augustine,
De Trinitate.
The completest patristic treatise on God as One is that of Dionysiusthe Areopagite (so-called),
De Divinis Norninibus,
with the commentary by St. Maximus theConfessor. The best collections of texts from the Fathers on this question are those of John ofCyprus,
Expositio materiaria eorum quae de Deo a theologis dicuntur 
Bibl. Patrum, Lugd.,
tom. xxi.),Petavius, Thomassinus, and Frassen,
De Deo; 
and Theophil. Reynaud,
Theol. Naturalis.
In the MiddleAges St. Anselm's
was an epoch-making work. Alexander of Hales and St. Thomas
qq. 2-26) contain copious materials. Of the countless modern writers we need only name Lessius,
De Perfectionibus Moribusque Divinis.
Among theologians of the present time the best treatises are byStaudenmaier, Berlage, Kuhn, Schwetz, Kleutgen, Franzelin, Pesch, Billot, and Janssen.CHAPTER I.OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.A.
Natural Knowledge of God considered generally.
I. The Catholic doctrine on ma
n's natural knowledge of God was defined by the Vatican Council: “Holy
Mother Church doth hold and teach that God, the beginning and end of all things, can certainly beknown from created things by the natural light of reason ; 'for the invisible things of Him from the
creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made' (Rom. i. 20). … If 
any one shall say that the One true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be certainly known by thenatural light of human reason from the th
ings that are made, let him be anathema” (sess. iii.,
De Fide Catholica,
ch. 2 and the corresponding can. ii. I.).
Holy Scripture, upon which the council's definition is based, teaches the same doctrine in manypassages.Rom. i.For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men thatdetain the truth of God in injustice (ver. 18); (For professing themselves to be wise they became fools,and they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible
man, … and they liked not (Greek word omitted)
to have God in their knowledge). (Vers. 22-28.)Because that which is known of God is manifest in them (Greek words omitted). For God hathmanifested it unto them (ver. 19).For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by thethings that are made (Greek word omitted); His eternal power also and divinity (Greek words omitted).So that they are inexcusable. Because that when they knew God (Greek words omitted), they havenot glorified Him as God, or given thanks, but became vain in their own thoughts, and their foolishheart was darkened (vers. 20, 21).Wisd. xiii.But all men are vain
Greek words omitted
in whom there is not the knowledge of God:and who by these good things that are seen could not understand Him that is (Greek word omitted),neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the Workman: but have imaginedeither the fire, or the wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the great water, or the sun andmoon to be the gods that rule the world (vers. 1, 2).With, whose beauty if they being delighted, took them to be gods: let them know how much the Lordof them is more beautiful than they; for the First Author (Greek word omitted)
of beauty made all thosethings. Or if they admired their power and their effects (Greek words omitted),
let them understand bythem that He that made them is mightier than they: for by the greatness of the beauty and of thecreature, the Creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby (Greek words omitted). (Vers.3-5.)But then again they are not to he pardoned; for if they were able to know so much as to make a judgment of the world, how did they not more easily find out the Lord thereof? (Vers. 8, 9.)
 And again: “For when the Gentiles who have not the law do by nature those things that are of the law,
these having not the law are a law to themselves; who show the work of the law written in their hearts,their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing or also
defending one another” (Rom. ii. 14
-16). Compare also St. Paul's discourses at Lystra and at Athens(Acts xiv., xvii.), in
which a natural knowledge of God is presupposed as a foundation of and a point ofcontact with Faith.II. The doctrine of Holy Scripture and the Council may be expressed in the following paragraphs:-1. Man is able and is bound to acquire a true knowledge of God by means of his own natural faculties,and is responsible for ignorance or denial of God's existence, and for any consequent neglect ofreligious or moral duties.2. Although it is most difficult for unaided reason to attain a perfect knowledge of God, neverthelesssome elementary knowledge of Him is natural to the human mind; that is to say, a notion of God isacquired spontaneously at the very dawn of reason; no external help, certainly no profoundphilosophical instruction, is needed. The notion of God is likewise so much in harmony with the
spiritual nature of man, that no adverse influences can altogether destroy it. This doctrine is notformally expressed by the Vatican Council; but it is contained clearly enough in Holy Scripture, and isuniversally taught by the Fathers and by theologians (cf.
2).3. This knowledge of God is also natural as proceeding from the very nature of human reason, and asbeing in accordance with its laws; that is to say, this knowledge arises, not from some blind instinct, orblind submission to authority, but from a most simple process of reasoning. Created nature is themedium whereby, as in a mirror, God manifests Himself to the eye of our mind. Our knowledge ofHim, therefore, is not a direct or immediate intuition of Him as He is in Himself, but an inferentialknowledge of Him as the Cause of created things. The Council directly states only that human reasonis unable to attain to an immediate apprehension of God, and that the mediate apprehension bymeans of created things possesses a real, true, and perfect certitude. Hence the definition does notformally exclude the possibility of some other objective and immediate perception of God, not havingthe character of an intuition of or direct gazing upon His Essence. Revelation, however, does notrecognize any such immediate knowledge, and the attempts made by theologians to establish itsexistence are not only without foundation, but even tend to endanger the dogma of the DivineInvisibility, and the dogma of the independent force of the mediate knowledge.4. Our natural knowledge of God is based upon the consideration of the external world, that is, of thethings apprehended by the senses, and also upon the consideration of the spiritual nature of thehuman soul. The external world manifests God chiefly in His Omnipotence and Providence; the life ofthe soul manifests the inner attributes of the Divine Life. The material and the spiritual world are thus,as it were, two mirrors in which we behold the image of the Creator. The material mirror is less perfectthan the other, but for that very reason the knowledge acquired by means of it is easier, more natural,and more popular. Holy Scripture and the Fathers lay special stress upon it.5. Our natural knowledge of God is aided by the supernatural manifestations of the Divine power,which can be perceived by our senses and intellect, the natural means of our knowledge. Physicaland moral miracles, special and general instances of Providence, such as the hearing and answeringof prayer, the punishment of evil-doers, the reward of the good, and the like, are instances of what wemean. This species of Divine Revelation also serves to authenticate the verbal Revelation
themedium of Faith,
and is the continuation of natural Revelation. On the other hand, by it alone theexistence, and many attributes of God, may be known, and therefore it is particularly adapted toexcite, develop, and complete the knowledge founded upon simply natural contemplation. Cf.Franzelin,
De Deo Uno,
thes. viii.SECT. 55.
The Demonstration of the Existence of God.
 The complete treatment of the proof of the Existence of God belongs to Philosophy and Apologetics.(See
A Dialogue on the Existence of God,
by Rev. R. F. Clarke, S.J.) We shall here confine ourattention to some remarks on the nature, force, and organic connection of these proofs.
I. To be or to exist belongs to God's very essence. The proposition, “God exists,” is therefore
immediately evident
in itself (per se nota secundum se).
Nevertheless, since we have no immediateperception of the Divine Essence, this proposition is not immediately evident
to us (per se nota quoad nos).
To our mind it is a knowledge acquired by experience. The manifestations of God areimmediately perceivable by us, and through these we prove the existence of God.II. Although the existence of God requires proof, still our certitude of His existence is not necessarilythe result of a scientific demonstration. A natural demonstration, sufficient to generate a perfectcertitude, offers itself to every human mind, as it were spontaneously. The processes of scientificdemonstration, if made use of at all, find already in the mind a conviction of God's existence, and only

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