Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Paraphrasing the Summa: First part, Question 1, Article 6

Question 1: The nature and extent of sacred doctrine.

Is Christian doctrine revealed by God?  Does it teach us about the supernatural as well as the natural?

Article 6. Whether this doctrine is the same as wisdom?

Does Christian doctrine teach us all that we need to know?
Objection 1. It seems that this doctrine is not the same as wisdom. For no doctrine which borrows its principles is worthy of the name of wisdom; seeing that the wise man directs, and is not directed (Aristotle, Metaphysics i). But this doctrine borrows its principles. Therefore this science is not wisdom.
 Hm?  The first objection seems to confuse "wisdom" or "knowledge" with its source.  As I understand the objection, if something is taught by someone other than the originator of the doctrine, then neither the thing taught nor the secondary teacher deserve to be called "wisdom" because it is not their own knowledge they pass along.

Therefore, the objector concludes, that neither the Church which passes along Christian doctrine, nor the Christian doctrine which is passed down, may be classified as "wisdom".
Objection 2. Further, it is a part of wisdom to prove the principles of other sciences. Hence it is called the chief of sciences, as is clear in Ethic. vi (another book by Aristotle). But this doctrine does not prove the principles of other sciences. Therefore it is not the same as wisdom.
The second objection says that wisdom confirms the truth of other bodies of knowledge.  Therefore, wisdom is called the most important science.  But Christian doctrine does not substantiate other sciences.  Therefore, it should not be classified as "wisdom".
Objection 3. Further, this doctrine is acquired by study, whereas wisdom is acquired by God's inspiration; so that it is numbered among the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2). Therefore this doctrine is not the same as wisdom.
And, finally, Christian doctrine is obtained by investigation and inquiry.  Whereas, wisdom is given us by divine influence.  According to Scripture (Isaiah 11:2), wisdom is a gift of God. Therefore, since men must study to acquire the knowledge taught in Christian doctrine, then Christian doctrine is not wisdom.
On the contrary, It is written (Deuteronomy 4:6): "This is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of nations."
St. Thomas counters with another verse from Scripture, wherein it says that the content of Scripture is our wisdom and understanding which the world can see.
I answer that, This doctrine is wisdom above all human wisdom; not merely in any one order, but absolutely. For since it is the part of a wise man to arrange and to judge, and since lesser matters should be judged in the light of some higher principle, he is said to be wise in any one order who considers the highest principle in that order: thus in the order of building, he who plans the form of the house is called wise and architect, in opposition to the inferior laborers who trim the wood and make ready the stones: "As a wise architect, I have laid the foundation" (1 Corinthians 3:10). Again, in the order of all human life, the prudent man is called wise, inasmuch as he directs his acts to a fitting end: "Wisdom is prudence to a man" (Proverbs 10:23).
Then St. Thomas invokes many Scriptures to prove the point that wisdom, in the human order, is found in all the disciplines.   All the disciplines have their masters and those masters are called "wise" because they have understood their craft to an excellent degree.
Therefore he who considers absolutely the highest cause of the whole universe, namely God, is most of all called wise.
But, he says, Christian doctrine is of a higher and more excellent order.  It is the knowledge of the architect of the world.  Therefore, the person who masters this knowledge is most deserving of the classification of "wise".
Hence wisdom is said to be the knowledge of divine things, as Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 14).
This is why St. Augustine designates true wisdom as the knowledge of those things revealed by God.
But sacred doctrine essentially treats of God viewed as the highest cause — not only so far as He can be known through creatures just as philosophers knew Him — "That which is known of Godis manifest in them" (Romans 1:19) — but also as far as He is known to Himself alone and revealed to others. Hence sacred doctrine is especially called wisdom.
And Christian doctrine treats of the knowledge of all things revealed by God, as well as those qualities of God which are revealed by studying the natural world. Therefore, Christian doctrine is most deserving of the title, "wisdom".
Reply to Objection 1. Sacred doctrine derives its principles not from any human knowledge, but from the divine knowledge, through which, as through the highest wisdom, all our knowledge is set in order.
Sacred doctrine is from God and not from men.  Therefore, since even the masters of human knowledge are called wise, then Christian doctrine is wisdom of the highest order.
Reply to Objection 2. The principles of other sciences either are evident and cannot be proved, or are proved by natural reason through some other science. But the knowledge proper to this science comes through revelation and not through natural reason.
Other sciences can be proved or understood by unaided reason.  But the principles of Christian doctrine can not be understood by unaided reason and must be revealed by God.
Therefore it has no concern to prove the principles of other sciences, but only to judge of them.
That is why Christian doctrine does not prove other sciences.  It only judges them.
Whatsoever is found in other sciences contrary to any truth of this science must be condemned as false: "Destroying counsels and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Anything which contradicts Christian doctrine, is false.
Reply to Objection 3. Since judgment appertains to wisdom, the twofold manner of judging produces a twofold wisdom. A man may judge in one way by inclination, as whoever has the habit of a virtue judges rightly of what concerns that virtue by his very inclination towards it. Hence it is the virtuous man, as we read, who is the measure and rule of human acts.
The third objection said that wisdom is not taught, but men are born with wisdom since it is a gift of God.

St. Thomas says that it is wisdom is both given by God and acquired by studying the things of God.

St. Thomas begins by explaining that judgment is an expression of wisdom.  But good judgment is also a quality of virtue.
In another way, by knowledge, just as a man learned in moral science might be able to judge rightly about virtuous acts, though he had not the virtue.
Although a man need not be virtuous to judge that which is virtuous.
The first manner of judging divine things belongs to that wisdom which is set down among the gifts of the Holy Ghost: "The spiritual man judgeth all things" (1 Corinthians 2:15).
Now, the first manner of judging, which is the judgement of the virtuous person, is a result of the git of the Holy Spirit.
And Dionysius says (Div. Nom. ii): "Hierotheus is taught not by mere learning, but by experience of divine things."
Therefore, Dionysius the aeropagite, a very wise, early christian, in his book, De divinis nominibus, 2nd chapter, says the wise are taught not simply by studying, but by participating in that which is holy.
The second manner of judging belongs to this doctrine which is acquired by study, though its principles are obtained by revelation.
The second type of wise judgement  requires that one study that which God has made known.

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