Is God Just? And Where is Jesus?

In Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, ch. 52, here’s what Thomas Aquinas says is the sufficient reason for God withdrawing and withholding his protection from the descendants of Adam and Eve, leaving them exposed to dissolution (coming apart), degeneration, death, and human and natural evils:

“[We Chrisians] affirm that man was, from the beginning, so fashioned that as long as his reason was subject to God, not only would his lower powers serve him without hindrance; but there would be nothing in his body to lessen its subjection; since whatever was lacking in nature to bring this about God by His grace would supply.”

In other words, it’s Adam and Eve’s fault. Thomas says God made the composite bodies of the first parents naturally subject to dissolution, decay, violence, and death–but that God’s grace would miraculously protect them from ever experiencing these so long as their “reason was subject to God.”

But their reason stopped being subject to God when Eve gave Adam the apple, and “he ate thereof.”

So out of Adam and Eve’s first sin, God withdrew his grace from them. No do-overs for the first parents. No second chances. One strike, and they were out.

And that’s why we, their descendants, are now beings unto dissolution. God has abandoned us. The descendants of a couple once under God’s grace are now under a curse. We are children of wrath; children whose bodies are left to go on their own natural course; beings unto death.

God is mad at us, so he lets us follow our natural course through the world; to suffer and die. That’s Aquinas’ thesis in a nutshell.

Is this even remotely plausible? The solution to the problem of evil? Set aside the fact that biology tells us there were no “first parents” of humanity living in Mesopotamia 10,000 years ago as Thomas thought. Just deal with the logic.

Does God’s withdrawal and withholding of protection from Adam and Eve, for a first sin they could barely have comprehended, justify the ongoing collective crucifixion that is history (including its anxieties, genocides, wars, plagues, and earthquakes)?

Julia Sweeney once said, “Jesus had a really bad weekend for your sins.” Shouldn’t that have been enough? If God was mad, and expressed his wrath upon his son’s body (a pretty creepy thought), aren’t we done? The apostle Paul thought the logic of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension would be a swift return (in Paul’s lifetime) to make a new heaven and earth. So where’s the “coming quickly” part of this equation? Why 2000 more years of ordeal, including the Holocaust and the 2004 Christmas tsunami? What’s the sufficient reason for all of this?

Does God still have anger issues? What about Jesus?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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One Response to Is God Just? And Where is Jesus?

  1. Pingback: Jesus, Justice, and why Atheists can’t talk about it. | Right Wing Nuts and Bolts

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