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Desire for God

Started by Kephapaulos, June 29, 2017, 11:02:23 PM

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Can it be said that man has a natural desire for God? Or was this only the case before the Fall? Or would it have been the case in the state of pure nature?


This is an excellent, relevant question because answering it requires a proper understanding of and distinction between nature and grace, natural and supernatural orders, and reason and faith.

St. Thomas writes in I-II q. 3 a. 8 (transl. from Life Everlasting):
QuoteThe object of the intelligence is the essence or nature of things, and this faculty grows more perfect the more it knows the essence of things. When we know an effect there arises in us a natural desire to know the essence or nature of its cause. If, therefore, we know, not the essence of the first cause, but only its existence, this natural desire would not be completely satisfied and man would not be completely happy.
As Fr. G.-L. writes in ch. 27 on the existence of heaven in Life Everlasting:
QuoteThis natural desire cannot be an efficacious desire, a necessitating desire, because the beatific vision is a gratuitous gift, as the Church has defined against Baius.
Here's Baius's condemned proposition, DZ 1021 (which should answer your second and third questions):
QuoteThe sublimation and exaltation of human nature in participation with the divine nature has been due to the integrity of the first condition, and hence must be called natural, and not supernatural.
Many Modernists (cf. Humani Generi's condemnation of them, quoted at the end of this article on De Lubac; spec. §26: "Others destroy the gratuity of the supernatural order, since God, they say, cannot create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision.") follow in Baius's footsteps (e.g., De Lubac, SJ), conflating the natural and supernatural orders (cf. Pascendi §10), thinking that it is a part of human nature (a "religious sense") and apart from grace that man desires to know God beyond what is naturally knowable of Him (i.e., beyond knowing His existence and attributes knowable from natural theology). These Modernists deny/criticize St. Thomas's sharp distinction between the natural and supernatural.

De Lubac, SJ asserts in his New Theology book Surnaturel:
QuoteNothing is said by St. Thomas regarding the distinction which would be forged later by a number of Thomistic theologians between 'God author of the natural order' and 'God author of the supernatural order'
To which Fr. G.-L. replies in his famous "Where is the New Theology Leading Us?" (answer: back to Modernism) article (OCRed here):
QuoteOn the contrary, St. Thomas often distinguishes the ultimate supernatural end of the ultimate natural end
He quotes I q. 23 a. 1 (inter alia) as proof:
QuoteFinis autem ad quem res creatae ordinantur a Deo, est duplex. Unus, qui excedit proportionem naturae creatae et facultatem, et hic finis est vita aeterna, quae in divina visione consistit, quae est supra naturam cuiuslibet creaturae, ut supra habitum est. Alius autem finis est naturae creatae proportionatus, quem scilicet res creata potest attingere secundum virtutem suae naturae.

[The end towards which created things are directed by God is twofold; one which exceeds all proportion and faculty of created nature; and this end is life eternal, that consists in seeing God which is above the nature of every creature, as shown above (Question [12], Article [4]). The other end, however, is proportionate to created nature, to which end created being can attain according to the power of its nature.]
Even Plato realized the existence of the "end...proportionate to created nature" (cf. Life Everlasting ch. 27 for the quote), but without sanctifying grace, Plato had no elicited desire to see God as triune, for example.

For an excellent book on this, see Ave Maria U. prof. Lawrence Feingold's The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas and His Interpreters.


Searching for "Garrigou-Lagrange," I came across these two short videos:
Introduction to La Nouvelle Theologie with Simon Oliver
He gives a fairly good overview of the Nouvelle Théologie as it relates to the grace-nature debate. I never knew Fr. G.-L. coined the term Nouvelle Théologie.
A couple criticisms:
  • Simon Oliver makes it seem as though the scholastic manuals used in early 20th century seminaries merely transmitted an ossified/immutable, "pristine" doctrine, as though the manuals were disconnected from legitimate modern developments. However, the Cosmology manual of Fr. Hugon, O.P., e.g., does mention modern science with respect to the existence of matter and form.
  • He also makes it seem as though orthodox Thomists did not understand how grace changes, elevates, and perfects nature. He seems to imply that it was necessary, for deepening our understanding of grace and nature, that New Theologians made grace a part of human nature.
Otherwise, it's a pretty good summary of the debate.


Thanks, Geremia! The first two links did not work. I can look them up though.

It is good to know that Thomism in the first half of the 20th century acknowledged legitimate modern scientific development. That confirms the neoscholastic's concept of pure nature, for there is good in human nature still even though it is fallen. Take that, Nouvelle Theologie!

Most fail to realize that wayward philosophy developed for awhile outside the confines, guidance, and wisdom of the Catholic Church and among dissident and misled Catholics. The fact that good Catholics were perceiving the good while accepting the evil and that we see so many falling away from the faith confirms what St. Thomas and the scholastics said.


Quote from: Kephapaulos on July 03, 2017, 08:13:08 PMThe first two links did not work.
I fixed them.

It seems the New Theologians, while criticizing Thomists for being rationalists, were really themselves the rationalists! Making the order a grace a part of human nature, it follows that they deny miracles outside the order of nature, too (just like the rationalists) (or they think everything is a miracle, which doesn't make sense because miracles are an exception to the natural order of things). See, all this stems from and returns to their denial of the supernatural. They've succumbed to naturalism.