St. Edmund Campion Catechism Group - Series 4 Lesson 7

Theology for Beginners: Chp 7. Creation
Theology for Beginners: All chapters
Penny Catechism: Q25-30
Catechism of the Council of Trent (The Roman Catechism): The Creed Art.1
Catholic Encyclopedia: Creation
Aquinas 101: Various
Summa Theologica: Prima Pars Q44-74
Companion to the Summa: Chp 8 The Architect at Work



  1. Recap:

    Chapter 1: Why study theology?

    - Theology is wisdom which is the knowledge of all things in relation to their highest cause.

    - Theology is the greatest of all sciences by the sublimity of its object: God; and by the certitude of its conclusions: the certitude of faith.

    - Theology teaches us our finality: the finality of man is the supernatural perfection of all his faculties - the greatest among these are his intellect and will.

    - Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of ourselves by the perfect love of God.

    - Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of our neighbour: if we love God, then we love everything He loves.

    Chapter 2: Spirit

    - A spirit is an immaterial intelligent living being (types: God, the angels and the souls of men)

    - A soul is defined as the first principle of life of those material things which live (plants, animals and men). Plants, animals and men have souls, but only the souls of men are spirits.

    - Properties: a spirit does not change in its being, does not corrupt, does not die (and is therefore eternal), has no mass, no shape, and no place e say that spirits are subsistent, which means that they have all they need to exist - they do not need a body to exist (like a plant or animal soul).

    Acts: to know and love. No material organ is required for these activities.

    Chapter 3: The Infinite Spirit

    God is the Infinite Spirit. 

    - God is all knowing, all loving, all powerful

    - God is His own existence

    - God was not created, He does not change, He has no past and future, God perpeturally in the present.

    - God is naturally everywhere: by His essence (per essentiam), by His power (per potentiam), by His knowing (per scientiam)

    God is Actus Purus, He cannot ever be in potency to doing anything; He is His action.  St. Thomas says that He is Actus Purus – one , simple, infinite and perfect action which is always in the present.

    Chapter 4: The Blessed Trinity

    The Blessed Trinity is the term used to express the central doctrine on the Christian religion: the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, these Three Persons being truly distinct from one another. There is one being, with one nature and there are Three Persons. The Blessed Trinity is known only by revelation, but can subsequently be explored by reason.

    Chapter 5: The Three Persons

    In an attempt to understand as much as possible about the Blessed Trinity using revelation and our knowledge of the intellect and being (by the science of metaphysics), St. Thomas, building on theologians before him, makes a best attempt to reconcile the unity of God and the distinction of the Three Persons in God. God has one nature by which the Three Persons operate. The distinction of the Three Persons is discerned in the mutually opposed relations resulting from the act of God knowing Himself and loving Himself. The Persons, are distinguished as the subsistant relations or Paternity, Filiation and Passive Spiration.

    Most of us, however, do not have a sufficient grasp of metaphysics to understand this complex theory and so a simpler one is proposed: In the act of knowing Himself, God generates a mental Word which is identical to the Generator. In the generator we discern the Father, in the generated, we discern the Son. These are Persons Who will naturally love each other, this love being personified in the Holy Ghost

    Chapter 6: Making the doctrine of the Trinity a living and loved reality

    For most people something like that happens when they embrace a mystery of the faith revealed to them by the Church:

     - first there is an intellectual response as they grasp the theological exposition of the mystery

     - then a vital response as the wonder and beauty of the mystery draws the observer in

     - then a loving response as the mystery becomes a light and a power in our lives.

  2. Definition of Creation

     - General: 
    Creation is the production of a thing out of nothing.

     - St. Thomas: Creation is the production of a thing in its entire substance, nothing being presupposed either uncreated or created. (IaQ65a3).

  3. Dogma of the Divine Creation of the world

    All that exists outside of God, was, in its whole substance, produced out of nothing by God (de fide, VatI).

  4. Errors concerning the origin of the world

     - Dualistic theories 
    hold that their are two principles which caused the world (perfection & imperfection, good & evil), but there can only be a single first cause of the world.

     - Monistic theories 

        - Pantheism: this holds that the world is God and so there is no cause of the world. Panthesists tried to reconcile the fact of the infinite Being of God and the fact that creatures do not take anything away from God's infinite Being. They failed to understand that we have our being by participation in the Infinite Being rather than by cutting off a bit of God's Being.

        - Evolutionism: This holds the distrinction and perfection of creatures occured by an unexplained and never observed process of evolution. Not only is this philosophically impossible, it still does not explain the origin of the world.

  5. Motive and Purpose of the Creation

    Motive (finis operantis): God was moved by His goodness to create the world (de fide). Bonum diffusivum sui (Goodness diffuses itself).

    Purpose (finis operis): The World was created for the Glorification of God (de fide)

  6. The Trinity and Creation

     - Creation is a work of God "ad extra" which means an external work of God, so it is the work of all Three Persons. It is most often attributed to the Father as the First Person. 

     - St. Augustine says that all creatures are reflections of the Trinity:

       - An unintelligent creature is a "trace of the Trinity" (vestigium Trinitatis)

       - An intelligent creature is an "image of the Trinity" (imago Trinitatis)

       - An intelligent creature in a state of grace is a "similitude of the Trinity" (similitudo Trinitatis)

  7. God has created a good world (de fide)

    God's creation is good, and despite the departure from God's will by sinful angels and men, the whole is directed by Divine Wisdom to natural and supernatural perfection. Ultimately the evil wrought in the world will be the occasion of a greater good.

     - St. Thomas: The universe, the present creation being supposed, cannot be better, on account of the most beautiful order given to things by God; in which the good of the universe consists. For if any one thing were bettered, the proportion of order would be destroyed; as if one string were stretched more than it ought to be, the melody of the harp would be destroyed. Yet God could make other things, or add something to the present creation; and then there would be another and a better universe. (IaQ25a6ad3).

  8.  The Preservation of the World

    God keeps all things in existence (de fide).

  9. The Six Days of Creation (The Biblical Hexahemeron)

    The Biblical account of the duration and order of creation is a literary clothing of the religious truth that the whole world was brought into existence by the creative word of God. It is not to be interpreted in a proper literal sense. It is important to defer to the authority of the Church to interpret the Scriptures.