• SapereAude
    19
    How can Christ still be conceived as God while possessing a human body? According to Aquinas, God by nature cannot have a body. Therefore how can this situation be understood?

    Also, under these same lines, how could Christ have been in Hell if he was a perfect, all-good God?
  • ernestm
    627


    The mistake you are making is to believe that theology must be rational. In fact the opposite is true. The more irrational something is, the more the majority of humankind tries to believe it.
  • Mariner
    366
    @SapereAude

    Check Aquinas' Summa Theologiae III-1-1.

    Here's what he had to say specifically about the question you asked:

    The mystery of Incarnation was not completed through God being changed in any way from the state in which He had been from eternity, but through His having united Himself to the creature in a new way, or rather through having united it to Himself. But it is fitting that a creature which by nature is mutable, should not always be in one way. And therefore, as the creature began to be, although it had not been before, so likewise, not having been previously united to God in Person, it was afterwards united to Him.
  • Mariner
    366
    I missed the part about the descent into hell.

    Here's Aquinas again on it:

    http://newadvent.org/summa/4052.htm
  • Gortar
    12
    Also, under these same lines, how could Christ have been in Hell if he was a perfect, all-good God?SapereAude

    Could you clarify what exactly creates the difficulty for a perfect, all-good God to have been in hell?

    I will try to work out some plausible ways to address this question though from what I understand of the apparent problem. Of course, it is problematic to find a method to arrive at any conclusion about what is 'really true' without committing ourselves to any theological framework. Many streams of Christian faith reject the notion that Christ descended into hell. Many reject the ontological notion of hell as such. But suppose we take as a given that Christ has been to hell. Here we need to note several things:

    1. Unless the conception of hell in view necessarily involves that whoever is present there suffers, there is no need to think of hell in such mechanistic terms. We can plausibly conceive of hell as a place where unforgiven sinners suffer punishment for their sin. Christ is not a sinner, and hence Christ does not suffer punishment for his sins.

    Now, if we do posit that Christ suffered in hell (and hell is defined as a place where unforgiven sinners suffer), there are still satisfactory ways to account for his suffering in legal terms. If we take as a given that in some sense Christ "took on himself the sin of the world," his suffering is justified. Voluntary suffering of someone else's punishment seems just in at least some context, especially if we think of justice in utilitarian terms. If the suffering of Christ brings about maximal good for the maximal number of people, the concept of his suffering in hell is both morally acceptable and coherent (at least given our commitments so far).

    2. The notion of "Christ has been in hell" needs some refinement too. What do we mean by "has been?" If we speak of presence, then what kind of presence? If Christ is God, and God is omnipresent, then in some sense Christ is clearly present in hell at all times. Medieval theologians differ on how they conceive of omnipresence, but they offer some accounts of of omnipresence that render God's presence through the faculties of power (Aquinas) or knowledge (Anselm).

    I hope it makes some sense. It would help to have a clearer grasp of the question and of the assumptions we are working with.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.6k
    According to Aquinas, God by nature cannot have a body.SapereAude

    According to someone, any arbitrary thing you'd like to believe.
  • Mattiesse
    20
    If we do not sin...does that mean he died for nothing? And if he died for all our sins, does that mean anything bad we do will not count?
  • Gortar
    12
    According to someone, any arbitrary thing you'd like to believe.Terrapin Station

    You're right in that Aquinas is not an arbiter of truth, but he is widely considered one of the greatest theologians of the Western church. Most likely, he had good reasons to think what he thought. It would be intellectually dishonest to liken Aquinas to anyone without first considering his arguments.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.6k


    Sacred cows are a bad idea. Really, it's all just people saying stuff. Everyone has reasons for what they say. This doesn't imply that no one is right, of course, but they're never right because of who they are, because of the amount and degree of respect they receive, or even because of their track record.
  • Gortar
    12


    I agree, every fallible human is fallible. Aquinas is not right because he's well-recognized. What I do advocate is an exercise of wisdom when it comes to evaluating positions of influential thinkers. It's something like this:

    1. Influential thinkers are likely to have thought through their stuff pretty well.
    2. Aquinas was an influential thinker.
    3. Hence, he is likely to have thought through his stuff pretty well.

    All this is to discourage people from fighting a straw man. It is way too common for people to assume that every pre-Enlightenment thinker is in some way less likely to produce convincing arguments than post-Enlightenment thinkers.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.6k


    I actually don't at all agree with your first premise. I think social forces have more to do with it.
  • Gortar
    12


    They might, but it needs to be demonstrated. And it would need to be demonstrated on a case-to-case basis, not once-for-all. Doing otherwise is pretty ignorant of many complexities involved in historical study of any thought ever.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.6k
    They might, but it needs to be demonstrated.Gortar

    Well, the easy thing to demonstrate is that a lot of these influential folks haven't thought through things very well. A ton of well-respected stuff is basically crap in my view.
  • Rank Amateur
    1.6k
    Well, the easy thing to demonstrate is that a lot of these influential folks haven't thought through things very well. A ton of well-respected stuff is basically crap in my view.Terrapin Station

    Would you see this as a progression of thought ? Similar to the progression of science? Would your logic be the same for Copernicus as it is for Aquinas ?
  • Terrapin Station
    9.6k
    Would you see this as a progression of thought ? Similar to the progression of science? Would your logic be the same for Copernicus as it is for Aquinas ?Rank Amateur

    I don't see either as a progression in the sense of improvement.
  • Gortar
    12


    This may well be true, but I better first understand what and why someone is saying, and only then deem it as crap (not saying you don't, just stating a principle). These issues are pretty complex, and I cannot justify calling something crap without having taken a lot of time to interact with the strongest arguments for that view. Sure enough, I cannot do this for every existing thinker or system of thought, but then I should always be willing to admit, "I haven't really done my homework, so my opinion about this issue is largely uninformed." If not, I am buying into an illusion that today we have a superior worldview/values/metaphysics/morals than the people before us did. In some ways we do have a more extensive knowledge of the world, but it is fallacious to think that we are know better than they did in every way.
  • Rank Amateur
    1.6k
    I don't see either as a progression in the sense of improvement.Terrapin Station

    can you expand some on that thought -
  • Ciceronianus the White
    822

    Good old St. Tommy A. A paragon of special pleading. And, of course, gluttony.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.6k
    can you expand some on that thought -Rank Amateur

    I see it more in a manner analogous to artworks. There's some good and bad (and everything in between) in all eras. It's not a progression overall from worse to better (or vice versa).
  • Gortar
    12
    There's some good and bad (and everything in between) in all eras.Terrapin Station

    What helps to determine what's good and what's bad?
  • Terrapin Station
    9.6k


    Good/bad are assessments we make, based on our prefences.
  • Gortar
    12


    What is then the point of doing philosophy? I understand your view to view evaluation of viewpoints as analogous to evaluation of art in that there's really no quest for either truth or arriving at reasonable beliefs.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.6k


    I wasn't disavowing truth or reasonableness or anything like that.

    I was explaining that I don't agree that science, philosophy, etc. (whatever we're talking about) have developed in a manner of continual improvement, with some unified progression where we increasingly have approached truth, getting nearer to it all the time. It's far messier than that, and I see it more in a way analogous to the arts ONLY in that there's plenty of good stuff and crap stuff in all eras. Some of the good stuff gets overlooked, forgotten, etc. Some of the crap stuff gets a lot of traction for reasons that have nothing to do with its merit re truth. There's a vast number of complex social interactions, with a lot of different social and psychological factors at play all the time.
  • Gortar
    12


    Then what is the method of distinguishing between good and bad stuff in philosophy? It cannot be based on only preference (viz. my inclination to favour some things over others), can it?
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