1 Colin E. Gunton, Becoming and Being: The Doctrine of God in Charles Hartshorne and Karl Barth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 2.
2 As presented by Hartshorne in his 1976 Aquinas lecture. Charles Hartshorne, Aquinas to Whitehead: Seven Centuries of Metaphysics of Religion (Milwaukee: Marquette University Publications, 1976), p. 15.
3 David R. Griffin, God, Power, and Evil: A Process Theodicy (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 44.
4 See for example, Clark H. Pinnock, ‘Between Classical and Process Theism’, Process Theology Ed. Ronald H. Nash (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), p. 316.
5 This is especially evident in Open Theism's critiques. See for example: Clark H. Pinnock et al, The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994) and Clark H. Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God's Openness (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2001).
6 St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, 5 vols. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975), 1.c.15. Hereafter SCG. The extent of the influence of Aristotle on Aquinas' metaphysics here is not of particular concern to the thesis of this paper. What is of interest is whether or not having identified God as necessary (a concept that is surely not foreign to the biblical God even if its basis is predominantly Hellenistic and not Semitic), Aquinas is then able to coherently demonstrate how the Christian God can know and relate to creation without impinging on creation's contingency.
7 St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 61 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), I. q2. a3. Hereafter ST. The major addition is the third point of the argument in ST, that at some time no contingent entities would exist at all.
8 Exactly what point in time Aquinas has in mind here is a matter of debate. The context appears to imply a past time in which nothing would exist, but it could be that he is arguing logically rather than temporally in which case he would be affirming that a universe of contingent beings cannot explain itself. However, I prefer a past time context because the movement from contingency to necessity is a movement through time (corruption to generation) and generation must always be prior to corruption. So if nothing exists then nothing has yet to be generated and therefore nothing has ever corrupted. See, for example, John F. Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas: From Finite Being to Uncreated Being (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2000), p. 464.
9 There is a recognised problem with this point: If we accept that all things that exist have the power to not exist then it does not logically follow that at one time nothing at all existed. Why should not corruptible beings, for example, overlap with each other so that while they may come to be and pass away there is never any time in which nothing at all exists? In other words, ‘each thing at some time or other is not’ is not equivalent to ‘at some time or other everything is not.’ Hence, Anthony Kenny actually prefers the earlier argument in SCG 1.c.15, which while similar in its overall process does not include this logical step. Anthony Kenny, Aquinas on Being (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002), p. 136. For an alternative evaluation of the argument in ST see Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas, p. 466 n. 63.
10 See, for example, the discussion in Colin E. Gunton, Becoming and Being: The Doctrine of God in Charles Hartshorne and Karl Barth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 4. An alternate response is given by Anthony Kenny who comments that in the Third Way Aquinas cannot mean logical necessity since his proof for the existence of God is not concluded when he has established that there exists a necessary being. Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas' Proofs of God's Existence (London: Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1969), pp. 47-8.
11 ST I. q2. a1. See also St Thomas Aquinas, Scriptum Super Sententiis (Amersham: Avebury, 1980), I. d3. q1. a2.
12 Hence, Eberhard Jüngel: ‘God is necessary in order to understand the world as world.’ Eberhard Jüngel, God as the Mystery of the World: On the Foundation of the Theology of the Crucified One in the Dispute between Theism and Atheism, trans. Darrell L. Guder (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), p. 30.
13 John Hick, ‘God as Necessary Being,’The Journal of Philosophy 57, no. 22/23 (1960): 732.
14 Swinburne, The Christian God, pp. 118-122, 146-7. It should be noted that Aquinas often uses the term absolute necessity in his writings and we will encounter this at various times below. Where it does occur it should be understood in the sense of ontological necessity.
15 See Alister McGrath, Nature, A Scientific Theology, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2001), pp. 168-9. Eleonore Stump, Aquinas, Arguments of the Philosophers (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 129-30.
16 Hick, ‘God as Necessary Being,’ 733.
17 As Pannenberg makes clear: Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988-98), p. 1:83 n.55.
18 Hick, ‘God as Necessary Being,’ 733.
19 Gunton, Becoming and Being, p. 4.
20 Ibid., p. 18.
21 See for example Charles Hartshorne, Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method (London: SCM Press LTD, 1970), p. 48.
22 See the discussion in Bernard Lonergan, Grace and Freedom: Operative Grace in the Thought of St. Thomas Aquinas (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1971), p. 77.
23 Spinoza, Ethics, Prop. 29.
24 Gunton, Becoming and Being, p. 32.
25 Open theists particularly emphasise this point. See for example Clark H. Pinnock, ‘Open Theism: An Answer to My Critics’, Dialog: A Journal of Theology 44 (2005), pp. 240-2.
26 Gunton, Becoming and Being, p. 33.
27 N.P. Wolterstorff, ‘Does God Suffer’, Modern Reformation 8 (1999), p. 47. claims that the classical position is unravelled in this process to the point of undermining even God's aseity. Quoted by Pinnock, ‘Most Moved Mover’, p. 78.
28 Clark H. Pinnock, ‘Between Classical and Process Theism’, in Process Theology, ed. Ronald Nash (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), p. 317.
29 Aquinas, 1 Sent., d.38, q.1. a.5.
30 Bernard McGinn, ‘The Development of the Thought of Thomas Aquinas on the Reconciliation of Divine Providence and Contingent Action’, The Thomist 39 (1975), p. 743.
31 See Aquinas' discussion on immutability, ST 1, q.9, a.1.
32 See Stump, Aquinas, p. 117.
33 A conclusion said to be unavoidable, Pinnock, ‘Open Theism’, p. 242.
34 SCG I.67.
35 See McGinn, ‘Divine Providence and Contingent Action’, p. 744. Also Lonergan, Grace and Freedom, pp. 104-5.
36 Stump, Aquinas, p. 117.
37 Lonergan, Grace and Freedom, pp. 103-4. As a further point of interest, modern science has effectively debunked the Newtonian model of absolute space and time. Now time, space and matter are all understood to be interconnected and explicated along Einstein's theory of General Relativity. Time is therefore unintelligible apart from space and matter which fits in nicely with the classical position that holds that all three are in fact created realities. The Process conception of God within time requires that God also be related to space and matter a point that seems to have escaped most proponents of this view. See Neil Ormerod, ‘Chance and Necessity, Providence and God’, Irish Theological Quarterly 70 (2005), p. 276.
38 SCG III.94.
39 On this see the discussion in Stump, Aquinas, p. 129.
40 1 Sent., d.38, q.1, a.5
41 SCG I.83; ST 1, q.19, a.3.
42 See Stump, Aquinas, p. 123. Also, Bernard Lonergan, Philosophy of God, and Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1973), p. 64-5.
43 ST 1, q.44, a.4.
44 SCG I.85.
46 See the further affirmation of this point in ST 1, q.19, a.8.
47 C.f. Lonergan: ‘What providence intends to be contingent will inevitably be contingent.’Grace and Freedom, p. 108.
48 ST 1, q.19, a.8. God is therefore the per se cause of the whole order of contingency. McGinn, ‘Divine Providence and Contingent Action’, p. 751.
49 It must be pointed out that for Aquinas, this does not result in God being responsible for contingent acts of evil, which as a deficit of the will remain strictly uncaused. See the discussion in Lonergan, Grace and Freedom, pp. 97-103. A defence of this point is not possible within the scope of this paper.
50 Lonergan, Grace and Freedom, p. 108.
51 Ibid., p. 79.
52 McGinn lists the following uses of the theorem from the Third Part of ST: q.46, a.2; q.1, a.2; q.14, a.2; q.65, a.4; q.84, a.5. ‘Divine Providence and Contingent Action’, p. 752.