God in Catholicism
The Old Testament names of God in Judaism are the names of God in Catholicism since they originate in the Bible, which the Church regards as the word of God. According to the Church, the name YHWH is the personal name of God, revealing twenty attributes of God: he is not a force but a living being, he wishes to make himself known to mankind, he is the living God and the God of the living, he is incomprehensible, he is holy, he is “merciful and gracious,” he is faithful to himself and to mankind, he is the unique, transcendent, immutable, and eternal creator of everything, he is self-existent and “the fullness of being and of every perfection,” he is absolute truth, his truth is the wisdom that commands and governs everything, he is the personal god of Israel that loves Israel beyond comprehension, and he is love itself. Still, the Tetragrammation, in the context of the liturgy, is considered unutterable by the Church out of reverence for the name, instead being rendered in Bible translations with an equivalent of Adonai, such as the English title “Lord“.
The Church believes in one god, one YHWH, because he has revealed himself. It teaches that God’s nature, essence, substance, being, or reality is love and truth. Love and truth, along with all of God’s attributes, are not distinct but the same: God’s nature is God’s essence, God’s essence is God’s power, God’s power is God’s justice, God’s justice is God’s will, God’s will is God’s wisdom, God’s wisdom is God’s intellect, God’s intellect is God’s nature, etc. The Church proclaims that God is merciful to everyone since he can do everything.
Only omnipotence is named in the Apostles’ creed and in the Nicene creed by calling God the “Father Almighty.” God’s omnipotence is universal, loving, and mysterious, according to the Church: “universal” because nothing is impossible with the creator of everything, “loving” because he shows his uttermost power by justification, and “mysterious” because only faith can see that God’s apparent powerlessness in the face of evil is really his uttermost power. The Church believes that, among the ways God manifests his omnipotence, is by divine providence taking a good from the consequence of an evil.
In addition to omnipotence, the First Vatican Council taught that God is “eternal, immeasurable, incomprehensible, infinite…one, singular, completely simple and unchangeable spiritual substance,…distinct from the world, supremely happy in himself and from himself, and inexpressibly loftier than anything besides himself which either exists or can be imagined.” The Church teaches that God’s attributes can be known by reason contemplating the Universe and mankind, since they reflect God.
The Church does not believe that God is pantheist, dualist, manichaeist, gnostic, deist, materialist, or that “the world is a necessary emanation arising from God and returning to him.”
The kingship, kingdom, or reign of God is, in general, everything, since God ex nihilo creates, orders, upholds, sustains, perfects, cares for, transcends and immanents everything. Specifically, the kingdom of God is Israel, Heaven, Jesus, the Church, Mary, the poor and lowly, repentant sinners, the righteous, and Christian life.
The Church believes that the kingdom is predestined: God destined Israel to be his people, Israel to accept the Torah, the People of God to be glorified, the old and new covenants to be irrevocable, Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, Jesus to fulfill the Old Testament, mankind not to die, mankind to acquire eternal life, everything to be for the common good of mankind, everything to be made perfect, and the papacy to be permanent.
In the kingdom, the Church believes there is a determining struggle between the spirit (virtue) and the flesh (vice) in the soul, which demands daily repentance (contrition).
Main article: Son of God in Christianity
In Catholicism, Jesus is the Messiah. He is the one mediator between God and mankind, as the Son of God made Son of Man, consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit as God and consubstantial with mankind as man, having a divine nature, intellect and will (Godhead) and a human nature, intellect and will (body and soul) united without confusion, the latter nature attuned and subject to the former nature, in his divine person (the Son).
Against certain heresies, the Church has clarified its teachings about Jesus: that Christ is the Son by nature, not adoption; that he is a human being, not a human person, and that Mary is the mother of God; that his humanity was assumed, not absorbed; that everything Jesus did as man is to be ascribed to him as God; that he as man knew everything that he as God came to reveal; and that his humanity is the perfect image of the divinity.
In rabbinic Judaism, the term “son of God” refers to the Israelites (Exodus 4:22), the People of God (Hosea 2:1), the messiahs (2 Samuel 7:14), and the angels (Job 1:6). The Church believes that Jesus revealed God to be the Trinity by revealing himself to be the Son of God, which the Church believes prompted the twelve apostles to believe Jesus to be the eternal Word.
According to the Church, Gabriel gave to Jesus his proper name of “Jesus,” which the Church interprets in Hebrew to mean “God saves” and which the Church believes, in light of his incarnation, contains everything – God, mankind, and the divine economy – and which he has handed over to the Church to be invoked. When the Church calls him by the proper name “Christ” it means he is the Messiah, expressing Jesus’ identity, essence, and the meaning of his life. The Church also invokes Christ by the names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament. See Who is Christ?
With the incarnation of Christ, the Church teaches that the kingdom of God has defeated the kingdom of Satan and God has inaugurated the messianic age, or the end-time, which the Church otherwise calls the age of the Church, the age of the resurrection, and the age of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Main article: Trinity
The Church teaches that YHWH is three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In rabbinic Judaism, God is figuratively the Father of everything and of Israel, he gives his eternal Torah to Israel as part of the Mosaic covenant, and his Holy Spirit dwells with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before dwelling with Israel in the Temple and promising to dwell within Israel’s hearts in the messianic age. In Catholicism, God is figuratively the Father of everything and of Israel and literally the Father in relation to his Son, the eternal Word is the Son of the Father, and the Holy Spirit is not an attribute of God but the third person of the Trinity. The Trinity is an “eternal exchange of love,” the source of the “marvelous exchange” of Christmas and the exchange of spiritual goods in the communion of saints, according to the Church. Also according to the Church, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son “as from one principle and through one aspiration”
The Church teaches that the Trinity, as a mystery of faith, can only be known by faith via the incarnation and Pentecost. Reason, enlightened by faith, can see the Trinity reflected in nature and prefigured (along with the rest of the New Testament) in the Old Testament, the Church clarifies, such as brotherhood, family, and the Church.
The Church teaches that the whole economy of salvation and revelation is the common work of the whole Trinity, since each person is God himself. The Church also teaches that each person does this work personally, so that everything goes from and to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, the Son and the Holy Spirit are like the hands of the Father – in rabbinic Judaism, God commands everything into being “by his word,” but so loves mankind that he fashions mankind as if by hand – and the proper work of the Son is the redemption and recapitulation of mankind and the proper work of the Holy Spirit is the sanctification of the Church.
Within the divine economy are “proofs” of God’s self-revelation: creation, the Ten Commandments, predestination, divine mercy, mankind being God’s image, the Perpetual Virginity, the new creation, moral evil (sin), resurrection of the flesh, and, ultimately, Christ.
Main article: Incarnation in Christianity
In light of the incarnation of Jesus and in order to combat iconoclasm, the Church believes that God can be depicted in art. Other justifications the Church uses are that mankind is the image of God, and Israel being commanded by God to make religious art. Catholic imagery, according to the way the Church interprets the First Commandment, is adoration of Christ, veneration of the saints, and reminder and nourishment of the faith.
The Church believes that arguments against God’s existence and other attributes are but difficulties in coming to know him, especially since Christian faith is infused into rather than acquired by mankind. The Church believes that God predestines no one for Hell, since it believes that everyone, apart from the Immaculate Conception, shares in original sin by fallen nature and shares in causing the Passion of Jesus by committing actual sin, and since it believes that God wills to free everyone from original sin and actual sin.
- God in Christianity
- Catholic moral theology
- Catholic theology
- Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament
- Trinitarianism in the Church Fathers
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 203 and 205
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Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia