Thomas Aquinas: Whether by grace a higher knowledge of God can be obtained than by natural reason?

Whether by grace a higher knowledge of God
can be obtained than by natural reason?
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –O(1) — It seems that by grace a higher knowledge of
God is not obtained than by natural reason. For Dionysius says (De
Mystica Theol. i) that whoever is the more united to God in this life, is
united to Him as to one entirely unknown. He says the same of Moses,
who nevertheless obtained a certain excellence by the knowledge conferred
by grace. But to be united to God while ignoring of Him “what He is,”
comes about also by natural reason. Therefore God is not more known to
us by grace than by natural reason.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –O(2) — Further, we can acquire the knowledge of
divine things by natural reason only through the imagination; and the same
applies to the knowledge given by grace. For Dionysius says (Coel. Hier.
i) that “it is impossible for the divine ray to shine upon us except as
screened round about by the many colored sacred veils.” Therefore we
cannot know God more fully by grace than by natural reason.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –O(3) — Further, our intellect adheres to God by grace
of faith. But faith does not seem to be knowledge; for Gregory says (Hom.
xxvi in Ev.) that “things not seen are the objects of faith, and not of
knowledge.” Therefore there is not given to us a more excellent knowledge
of God by grace.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) — On the contrary, The Apostle says that “God hath
revealed to us His spirit,” what “none of the princes of this world knew”
(1 Corinthians 2:10), namely, the philosophers, as the gloss expounds.
I answer that, We have a more perfect knowledge of God by grace than by
natural reason. Which is proved thus. The knowledge which we have by
natural reason contains two things: images derived from the sensible
objects; and the natural intelligible light, enabling us to abstract from them
intelligible conceptions.
Now in both of these, human knowledge is assisted by the revelation of
grace. For the intellect’s natural light is strengthened by the infusion of
gratuitous light; and sometimes also the images in the human imagination
are divinely formed, so as to express divine things better than those do
which we receive from sensible objects, as appears in prophetic visions;
while sometimes sensible things, or even voices, are divinely formed to
express some divine meaning; as in the Baptism, the Holy Ghost was seen
in the shape of a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard, “This is My
beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17).
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –RO(1) — Although by the revelation of grace in this
life we cannot know of God “what He is,” and thus are united to Him as to
one unknown; still we know Him more fully according as many and more
excellent of His effects are demonstrated to us, and according as we
attribute to Him some things known by divine revelation, to which natural
reason cannot reach, as, for instance, that God is Three and One.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –RO(2) — From the images either received from sense
in the natural order, or divinely formed in the imagination, we have so
much the more excellent intellectual knowledge, the stronger the intelligible
light is in man; and thus through the revelation given by the images a fuller
knowledge is received by the infusion of the divine light.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –RO(3) — Faith is a kind of knowledge, inasmuch as
the intellect is determined by faith to some knowable object. But this
determination to one object does not proceed from the vision of the
believer, but from the vision of Him who is believed. Thus as far as faith
falls short of vision, it falls short of the knowledge which belongs to
science, for science determines the intellect to one object by the vision and
understanding of first principles.
Summa Theologica

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: