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.
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
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
Necessity of the World in Thomas Aquinas and Alfred North Whitehead” on
April 14, 2008
Mistake of Thomas Aquinas and the Trinity of A. N. Whitehead
Joseph M. Hallman
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.).
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
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):
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,
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.]
37 Ibid., p. 103.
Posted April 14, 2008