Goddelike voorsienigheid in die denke van die “doctor angelicus”
Hoe om die verhouding God-mens Christelikfilosofies te verstaan
Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274), the doctor angelicus (angelic doctor), devoted an exceptionally large part of his Summa Contra Gentiles (its entire book 3, the largest part of all four books) to the question how God’s providence should be understood. His ideas in this regard had a remarkable and longlasting influence on both Catholic and Protestant theologies – the Reformed tradition included. Since this is one of those insoluble, enigmatic but at the same time unavoidable, practical problems, it remains a topical issue till today. From various theological perspectives many volumes already dealt with the issue. This investigation, however, aims at revealing the deeper philosophical presuppositions of Aquinas’ doctrine of providence. It provides the results of a careful reading of his Contra Gentiles, regarded as his main philosophical work.
The study develops as follows: (1) As an introduction Aquinas’ ideas about God is reviewed. (2) The next section explains the fact of God’s providence. (3) The third part investigates the ways in which He executes his providence. (4) Then the general relationship of God’s providence to humankind is discussed. (5) The following section focusses on three specific, practical issues, viz. human freedom, prayers and evil in relation to God. (6) The essay continues with some reflections on how one should today – after more than seven centuries since Aquinas wrote his Contra Gentiles – approach the difficult issue of God’s predestination in election and reprobation. (7) The investigation closes with a few final conclusions.
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