What do you think of Thomas Aquinas’ view of God?
Question: You have written (in Trinity and Process) that the relational God of the Bible is the antithesis of the immutable God of Thomas Aquinas. Could you explain this?
Answer: Aquinas and much of the classical theological tradition borrowed heavily from Aristotle’s notion of God as an “unmoved mover.” God moves the world but remains unmoved himself. Among other things, this entails that God is not reciprocally related to the world. Indeed, for Aquinas, God relates to the world only by relating to himself as the cause of the world. He thus wrote that the relationship between God and the world is real to the world but not to God.
I don’t see how this view of God is at all compatible the central truth of the Christian faith that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. If we grant that Christ—rather than Aristotle—most decisively reveals who God is, it’s hard to see how we can justify the conclusion that God is not reciprocally related to his creation. God is so affected by the plight of humans and of all creation that he become a human to save us and creation from the devil’s oppression.
So far as I can see, this relational and vulnerable view of God is the most exalted and beautiful conception of God ever imagined. Though his intention was to articulate the greatness of God, I view Aquinas’ “unmoved mover” conception as being insulting to God.