Denys Turner is the author of Thomas Aquinas: A Portrait
Thanks for this Farher. Very informative. The apophatic way of the Eastern Fathers like Dionysius the Areopogite definitely accentuates the ultimate Mystery of God’ s essence. We can surely demonstrate through reason that God exists but we can never really know Who God is.
I had heard the story before about Aquinas experiencing a mystical vision while saying Mass in December of 1273, but did not know that the portion of the Summa that remained unfinished after that event was the section on eschatology. As Turner states in the lecture we never learned of Aquinas’s mature thoughts on the Last Things because, like St. Paul he had undoubtedly heard and seen things during his vision that were too wonderful to utter.
So with that in mind please allow me to amend my most recent comment on the post dealing with Luther and justification. I now believe that even a mystical encounter with the Living God could not give us certainty regarding the Last Things, including the question of the truth or heterodoxy of the apokatastasis. Because God’s essence is inherently unknowable, many truths must remain shrouded in mystery. Besides, if Aquinas’s mystical vision had clarified anything for him, he surely would have completed the Summa rather then relating to Brother Reginald that everything that he had written was no more valuable than straw!
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