Aquinas the Biblical Theologian Conference

Registration is now open for the 2019 Aquinas the Biblical Theologian conference at Ave Maria University (February 7-9, 2019), co-sponsored by The Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal and The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

Scott Hahn and Matthew Levering will be featured as keynote speakers. Featured Thomistic speakers include John Boyle, Randall Smith, Jörgen Vijgen, Michael Dauphinais, and Michael Waldstein. Members of The Sacra Doctrina Project will also present, including Steven Long, Taylor Patrick O’Neill, Daniel Lendman, Brandon L. Wanless, Sean Robertson, and Daniel Garland, Jr.

See the Ave Maria conferences website (below) for more information about the conference, including a tentative schedule of presentations.

New Book: Thomism and Predestination

A new book entitled Thomism and Predestination: Principles and Disputations is now available from The Catholic University of America Press. See below for more details. 


"There is perhaps no aspect of traditional Thomistic thought so contested in modern Catholic theology as the notion of predestination as presented by the classical Thomist school. What is that doctrine, and why is it so controversial? Has it been rightly understood in the context of modern debates? At the same time, the Church's traditional affirmation of a mystery of predestination is largely ignored in modern Catholic theology more generally. Why is this the case? Can a theology that emphasizes the Augustinian notion of the primacy of salvation by grace alone also forego a theology of predestination?

Thomism and Predestination: Principles and Disputations considers these topics from various angles: the principles of the classical Thomistic treatment of predestination, their contested interpretation among modern theologians, examples of the doctrine as illustrated by the spiritual writings of the saints, and the challenges to Catholic theology that the Thomistic tradition continues to pose. This volume initiates readers―especially future theologians and Catholic intellectuals―to a central theme of theology that is speculatively challenging and deeply interconnected to many other elements of the faith.


Steven A. Long is a professor of Theology at Ave Maria University and author of Teleological Grammar of the Moral Act (Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University Publications). Roger W. Nutt is an associate professor of Theology, codirector of the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal, and editor-in-chief of Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University. Thomas Joseph White, OP, is the director of the Thomistic Institute at the Domincan House of Studies. He is the author of several books including The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Study in Christology (CUA Press), and coeditor of the theological journal Nova et Vetera."

A Long Way to Go

What amazes me most about Steven Long’s Analogia Entis (Notre Dame, 2011) - highly to be recommended - is that with a few deft strokes, he at once shores up (a) the absolute transcendence of God, the total lack of any determinate measure of God to the creature and (b) the dignity of the creature, the reality of the stuff of its substance and esse, contra those who unwittingly, in reaching immediately for “participation”, lose the participant.

“Thomas’s persuasion in De veritate with respect to this systematic analysis seems to the present author to underscore the necessity of the analogy of proper proportionality even for analogy of creature to God as effect to cause or one to another. This is so because (1) these necessarily fall short of strict proportion insofar as God is not really determined in relation to the creature, requiring recourse to proportionality; and (2) causal analogy metaphysically presupposes and sets forth from the analogical formality of being in terms of diverse rationes of act, and as the relation of createdness, the relation of efficient and final dependence, can obtain only as consequent upon being. Likewise, the analogical ontological formality of being is prior to all logical and semantic issues whatsoever, inasmuch as (1) the first principle of logic derives from the metaphysical principle of noncontradiction and not the converse; and (2) the being common to substance and the categories is analogically divided by act and potency (at the highest level, being is divided by existence and essence). Precisely this is the reason for Thomas’s famed utterance even with respect to predication that ‘all univocal predications are reduced to one first non-univocal analogical predication, which is being’ (ST I, q. 13, art. 5, ad 1). For both being and ‘being’ [term] are analogous, and the second analogicity derives from the first” (ibid., pp. 78f).

For my own selfish part, I should like to see a future book, following in the footseps of this one, treating the attendant foundational errors in the renewed “critique of the onto-theo-logical constitution” of metaphysics. That renewed critique concedes that Thomas was wrongly impugned, and yet it once again claims that the establishment of any foundations outside of theology (rather, revelation) is idolatrous or constraining. The visability of Marion’s thesis?

***But if I may, I would like to close with a lengthy question grounded in my remaining perplexity at the issue….

Initial Question: Is it the case that “analogy of proportionality” simpliciter is all that is going on, such that all that is maintained in “analogy of proportion” is totally reducible to “analogy of proportionality? (With Long, I am speaking of the divine names only here.) There is a bit that trips me up and is the reason for the question. Observe the difference in the following two sets of proportionality:

SET 1:
Sleeping is to waking, as clay is to the sculpture, as the scientist not thinking is to the scientist thinking, as Hydrogen is to water, …

SET 2:
The stone is to its being, as an animal is to its being, as man is to his being, as an angel is to its being, as God is to his being

WHEREAS in the first set, the analogy is strictly that of relations (this is to that, AS thisother is to thatother), so that sculpture has nothing to do with scientific thought; ON THE OTHER HAND, we find ‘being’ in the second set. The point is of course granted for Thomists that being is not univocal.

STATEMENT: Either in the first set we have or we do not have “proportionality”. We have it. But the formalities of the denominators lack all connection one to another, even though they are each sharing analogous ‘relations’ to their numerators. What more is going on in Set 2 that is not going on in Set 1, if indeed something more is going on?

AT FIRST BLUSH: It seems that “tucked into the proportionality” in Set 2 is still “proportion”: being to being. IT IS TOTALLY GRANTED that the connection is not univocal. Further, let us reduce Set 2 to the proportionality creature / its being // God / his being. Then further it is TOTALLY GRANTED that this is a one-way-street proportion (the creature is the effect of God and really determinable in relation to him, but not at all in any way is God really determinable in relation to the creature). BUT does this latter point make analogy of proportion “only transferred” in the sense that it is totally subsumable under proportionality? If so, then how do you explain the difference between the Two Sets outlined above, if there is a difference?

IS THIS THE SOLUTION? Namely, that any denominator in Set 1 is “as act” to the numerator which is “as potency”, so that YES INDEED there is a commonality cutting across denominators in both sets? Not a commonality of nature of course but of Act? But if that is the case, do we not ‘also’ have an analogy of proportion remaining within the analogy of proportionality?

WHAT OF THIS: When we take the mathematical proportionality, even though it is ‘univocal’ in terms of the ‘ratio’ (English term), nonetheless the 4 (2/4) has nothing to do with the 250 (125/250). By “nothing to do with” I mean these are diverse numbers, and you don’t find ‘4’ in ‘250’. You don’t even find a likeness of ‘4’ in 254. The likeness is ONLY that of the two relations to the two numerators. But was there not, in Set 2 above, a likeness of being to being, act to act?

AND SO MY QUESTION IN A NUTSHELL: As analogy is analogous, so analogy of proportionality is analogous (and in various ways). ***Is not one way in which it is analogous the inclusion of proportion (as a one way street way) within the analogy of proportionality, not as totally subsumed by it but as included in it in a way that, while proportionality negates the “two way” movement (the blasphemous determination of God with respect to creature), yet the proportion still communicates NOT ONLY a relation of proportions (As man is to what is his, so God is to what is his) BUT ALSO a proportion of one to another (man’s being to God’s being)?

I will be grateful for the explanation of the mistake underlying my question.