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This book provides a fundamental introduction to Aquinas's theology of the One Creator God. Aimed at making that thought accessible to contemporary audiences, it gives a basic explanation of his theology while showing its compatibility with contemporary science and its relevance to current theological issues. Opening with a brief account of Aquinas’s life, it then describes the purpose and nature of the Summa Theologica and gives a short review of current varieties of Thomism. Without neglecting other works, it then focuses primarily on the discussion of the One God in the first part of the Summa Theologica. God's transcendence and immanence is a recurrent theme in that discussion. Evidence of God's immanent causality in the natural world grounds Aquinas's five arguments for the existence of God (the Five Ways) which then open onto God's transcendence. The subsequent discussion of the divine attributes builds on the modes of God's causality established in the Five Ways. It also shows the need for a language of analogy to preserve God's transcendence and prevent us from reducing God to the level of creatures, even as qualities such as "goodness" and "love," which we first know from creatures, are applied to God. The discussion of God's providence and governance establishes that the transcendent Creator God is most intimately present in creation. God acts in all creatures in a way that does not diminish their proper causality, but is rather its source. As there is no contradiction between God's transcendence and immanence, so there is no competition between the primary causality of God and the secondary causality of creatures. Empirical science, which is limited by its method to the secondary causality of creatures, is shown to be compatible with the broader discipline of theology which also embraces the primary causality of the Creator.
Michael J. Dodds, OP is professor of philosophy and theology at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, CA, and author of Unlocking Divine Action: Contemporary Science and Thomas Aquinas and The Unchanging God of Love: Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary Theology on Divine Immutability.
"Dodds provides a well-written, accessible summary of St. Thomas’ teaching on the doctrine of God while also making a significant contribution in placing this doctrine in dialogue with contemporary science and scientific sensibilities."~Jessica M. Murdoch, Villanova University
"This book is a splendid account of what Aquinas has to say about the existence and nature of God in the first part of his Summa Theologiae. Yet the book is not simply concerned to report on what Aquinas says. It pays much attention to published criticisms of Aquinas and discusses them with great philosophical and theological expertise. Michael J. Dodds has a lot of good things to say about how, in the light of recent science, we should evaluate Aquinas’s thinking about God. Anyone seriously interested in Aquinas will learn a great deal."~Brian Davies, Fordham University
"Modernity and its offspring have wreaked havoc on the doctrine of God in recent Christian theology. Michael J. Dodds convincingly demonstrates the abiding relevance and superiority of Thomas Aquinas’s teaching on God by setting it forth in thoughtful engagement with contemporary alternatives. His rehabilitation of the Angelic Doctor’s profound insight on God’s transcendence and immanence is precisely the cure for modern theology’s diminished theism."~James E. Dolezal, Cairn University
"Dodds presents a remarkable synthesis of the natural theology underlying the revealed theology of the first part of the Summa Theologiae, one that manifests the lay of the land and the central insights in St. Thomas’s arguments. Moreover, he continues the work of his Unlocking Divine Action, engaging recent theologians and philosophers who are often facing the same puzzles about divine causality, foreknowledge, predestination, power, and the problem of evil that St. Thomas addressed so masterfully 750 years ago. Many of these contemporaries have likely only dabbled in Aquinas. I would hope that The One Creator God in Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary Theology provokes a closer look - for these non-Thomists and for beginners who are tempted to follow recent misunderstandings of the divine nature because of a mistaken sense that reason forces such conclusions on them. Aquinas shows that it does not and that sound philosophy - and a sound understanding of how philosophy relates to revelation - is a large part of the remedy."~Christopher A. Decaen, Thomas Aquinas College
"Throughout the book, Fr. Dodds lays out the basics of the subject without belaboring controversy, although he does not skirt it when the need arises. This allows the main text of the book to be accessible to the serious beginners in its audience, while also pointing out where to go to study the difficulties more deeply... This book is warmly recommended to teachers, especially those beginning instructors tasked with an undergraduate natural theology course and looking for a helpful secondary text. It would also serve well as a stand-alone source for independent study."~Thomistica.net
"We are dealing with an inspiring form of summary of St. Thomas teaching on God, who does not want to explain everything, but mark the area the reader must go through. Precision, proximity of the texts, and a bold questioning of ‘why’ such solutions appear in Aquinas’ reflections on God, is what makes this book unique. It is not a textbook or a monograph: it is an original attempt of combining the exegesis of Aquinas’ texts with philosophical reading in specific philosophical realities. And it ought to be added that this is a successful design."~European Journal for the Study of Thomas Aquinas
"One of the strengths of the author, Michael J. Dodds, O.P., is his ability to reveal the relevance of this theology in the concert of contemporary theologies, while integrating some new questions into the Thomistic synthesis… a very good handbook on the one God in the theological tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas."~Thomist