Thomas Aquinas on the Beatific Vision: A Christological Deficit
This article argues Aquinas’s doctrine of the beatific vision suffers from a twofold christological deficit: (1) Aquinas rarely alludes to an eternally continuing link (whether as cause or as means) between Christ’s beatific vision and ours; and (2) for Aquinas the beatific vision is not theophanic, that is to say, for Aquinas, Christ is not the object of the beatific vision; instead, he maintains the divine essence constitutes the object. Even if Aquinas were to have followed his “principle of the maximum” in the unfinished third part of the Summa and so had discussed Christ’s own beatific vision as the cause of the saints’ beatific vision, he would still have ended up with a christological deficit, inasmuch as Christ would still not be the means and the object of the saints’ beatific vision. For a more christologically robust way forward, I draw on John Owen and several other Puritan theologians, who treat the beatific vision as the climactic theophany.
Copyright (c) 2018 Hans Boersma
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