The Providence of God and the Cross of Christ

When one examines the mystery of divine providence, and its relation to the cross of Christ from the viewpoint of wisdom, which is knowledge of divine things, he sees God’s wonderful plan of redemption for his creatures.

Crucifixion is the most horrific and torturous type of death, perfected by the Romans, to inflict the maximal amount of pain upon the one crucified. This execution consisted of a person being affixed to the cross by having a single nail driven between both of his feet, and one nail in each of his palms or wrists. The person is thus hung in a manner in which the downward force makes it immensely difficult to allow air into the lungs, leading to death by asphyxiation. The only way to stop the immense feeling of suffocation is by pushing up on the nails in your hands and feet, causing excruciating pain, in order to allow the slightest bit of oxygen to flow into your lungs. When the Romans were feeling merciful, they smashed the victim’s legs with a giant mallet in order to speed up the agony. And, yet, Christians believe that God the Father sent his only begotten Son, who is innocent and free from all sin, into the world for the specific purpose of dying on the cross for the salvation of guilty and sinful men. Thus, it is no surprise that St. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, describes the cross of Christ as “a stumbling block to Jews and a folly to Gentiles.” 1 The cross is no less scandalous today than it was in St. Paul’s time. Instead of seeing it as an expression of God’s infinite love and mercy, atheists today view it as a sadistic act from an angry deity with a lust for blood. 2 For this reason, they reject the existence of God altogether.

In answering the objection to the mystery of the cross within the divine providence of God, we must keep in mind that what we are dealing with here is precisely that: a mystery of the faith. But to argue with an atheist is to approach the matter from competing principles, as an atheist denies the articles of faith a priori. This seems to derail the whole project from the start. As St. Thomas Aquinas tells us in his Summa Theologiae, we can argue with one who denies the principles of sacra scriptura only if the opponent grants some of the truths of divine revelation. 3 This, however, is not something an atheist is willing to do. Therefore, “if our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections—if he has any—against faith.” 4 Since faith is not opposed to reason, we can demonstrate to the atheist that what we believe is not irrational and, therefore, his arguments against the faith can be answered. It is precisely this that I propose to do in this article. Following the teaching of St. Thomas, I will show that the cross of Christ fits within God’s providence, and that viewed within the divine providence, the cross is not an unjust and repulsive act of a bloodthirsty and vengeful God, but rather the ultimate act of God’s love for man.

The Providence of God

Before we show how the cross fits in with God’s providence, we must first explain what is meant by the providence of God, what it includes, and what it does not include. Aquinas defines providence as “the order in things toward an end.” 5 Now, the end of all created things is God, who is Goodness itself. So, God, in his divine providence, orders all things towards their proper end, which is himself. There is nothing outside of God’s providence, since he is the first agent, whose causality extends to everything and “since every agent acts for an end, the ordering of effects towards that end extends as far as the causality of the first agent extends.” 6

But, here, an objection arises. If God’s causality extends to all things and, therefore, so does his providence, and we observe evil in the world, it seems that God is the cause of evil. However, as we said above, God is Goodness itself. How then could the source of all good be the cause of evil? In order to answer this, we have to understand what we mean by evil. Aquinas tells us that we can speak of evil in two ways: evil as such (ipsum malum) and evil existing in a subject. 7 Evil as such is not an entity, but the privation of a particular good. Aquinas supports this statement that evil as such is a privation by invoking the principle of Aristotle in the Nichomachean Ethics that “good is what all things desire.” 8 Now, since evil is contrary to good, evil as such is not desired and therefore cannot be an entity for three reasons.

The first reason is based on efficient causes. Aquinas states that “every efficient cause acts for the sake of an end and some good.” 9 Now, no thing can be the cause of itself. Therefore, if evil is some being it must be caused by something else. Further, in efficient causes it is impossible to have an infinite regress, because if there is no first cause there would be no subsequent effects. There must therefore be a first efficient cause. That first and universal efficient cause is God. 10 Therefore, Aquinas states:

…the first and universal efficient cause is necessarily itself the first and universal desirable thing, that is, the first and universal good, which produces all things because of the love of its very self. Therefore, as every real thing needs to come from the first and universal cause, so every reality in things needs to come from the first and universal good. And since what the first and universal cause of being causes is a particular being, what the first and universal good causes can only be a particular good. Therefore, everything that is a real thing needs to be a particular good and so, by reason of what exists, cannot be contrary to good.  11

From this, it is clear that evil as such is a privation. The second reason that evil as such is not an entity is that every real thing has an inclination and desire for something befitting itself. But, as Aristotle states, all that is desirable is good. Therefore, every real thing desires good for itself and not evil, which is contrary to it. Hence, evil is not an entity. The third reason is that existing has the nature of being desirable and, therefore, insofar as it is desirable, it is good. But, since evil is contrary to that which is good, and existing is a good, evil has to be contrary to existing and, therefore, it cannot be an entity. So what we end up with is the denial of the existence of evil as such.

In another way, however, evil may be considered inasmuch as it is in a subject. Insofar as the subject exists, it is good, and is caused by God. The evil is in the subject because of the privation of some goodness that ought to be there. For example, if a man is born blind, he suffers an evil because eyes are meant to have sight. But the eyes themselves are good. Hence, “evil is only the privation of a due perfection, and privation is only in being in potency, since this we say to be deprived which is designed to have something and it does not have it.” 12 Evil, therefore, because it is not an entity, and only exists in a subject, does not have an intrinsic cause, but only an accidental cause. 13 While God causes the being of the subject, he does not cause the privation of the good which ought to be in the subject.

This principle can be understood with respect not only to physical evils but also to moral evils. A moral evil is one in which a voluntary rational act is lacking the due order to the end. 14 This is the type of evil we are most concerned with in relation to Christ’s death on the cross, which came about due to the evil actions of sinful men. If God’s causality extends to everything, then it would seem clear that God causes sin also. But this cannot be because God is infinite goodness, Goodness itself. So it must be affirmed that neither God himself sins, nor does he cause others to sin. In God’s providence, everything is ordered to the good, but evil is contrary to good; therefore, God does not cause sin. As Aquinas states:

It belongs to God to direct everything to his very self and so not to divert anything from his very self. But he himself is the supreme good. And so he cannot cause the will to turn away from the supreme good, and the nature of the moral wrong, as we are now speaking about, consists of turning away from that good. 15

God does, indeed, cause a person to have free will, but this need not mean he causes the person to sin. Aquinas gives the example of the power an animal has to move its leg. The power the animal has causes the leg to move, but if the animal happens to limp, the cause of the limp is not the animal’s power to move its leg. The cause of the limp is rather due to some deficiency in the leg and, therefore, it lacks the capacity to receive the power of locomotion. 16 So it is with free will and sin. God is the cause of a person’s free will, but if that person sins, the cause of the sin does not extend back to God, but rather to some defect in the will causing it to turn away from the good.

Here we come to another difficulty. Aquinas affirms that God does not cause sin, but in the next article, Q. 3 of his De malo, he affirms that acts of sin do come from God. How can this be? At first glance, it seems as though Aquinas takes back the principle he established one article previously. But on further investigation, we find that it is not the case. In order to understand St. Thomas’ teaching on this matter, we have to first recognize that God’s universal causality does not rule out secondary causes. This relates to what we said previously, that God is the cause of a person’s free will. God is the first efficient cause and the person is the secondary cause of his free will.

For every movement of secondary causes needs to be caused by the first mover, just as all the movements of earthly material substances are caused by the movements of heavenly bodies. But God is the first mover regarding all movements, both spiritually and material, just as a heavenly body is the source of all the movements of earthly material substances. And so, since acts of sin are movements of free choice, we need to say that such acts, as acts, come from God. 17

Thus, just as God is the cause of any being in which some defect is found, but not of the defect itself, so God is the cause of evil acts insofar as they are acts, not insofar as they suffer some lack, i.e., inasmuch as they are evil. Any act that becomes an evil act is a result of a privation of right order to the good. But if God in his allowing us to have free will means that we are able to abuse our will, and choose lesser goods resulting in evil, why then does God give us free will to begin with? For Aquinas, God’s providence provides the answer:

Providence tends to multiply goods among the things that are governed. So, that whereby many goods are removed from things, does not pertain to providence. But, if freedom of will were taken away, many goods would be removed. Taken away, indeed, would be the praise of human virtue which is nothing, if man does not act freely. Taken away, also, would be justice which rewards and punishes, if man could not freely do good or evil. Even the careful consideration of circumstances in processes of deliberation would cease, for it is useless to dwell upon things that are done of necessity. Therefore, it would be against the very character of providence if liberty of will were removed. 18

Thus, it is better for man, and the created order, that free will remains, even if evil can occur as a result thereof.

One of the fundamental misconceptions of atheists, and perhaps Christians as well, is that evil must be entirely excluded from the providential plan of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. Aquinas, however, shows this to be quite incorrect.

Indeed, divine governance, whereby God works in things, does not exclude the working of secondary causes, as we have already shown. Now, it is possible for a defect to happen in an effect, because of a defect in the secondary agent cause, without there being a defect in the primary agent. 19

So, any defect that occurs is a result of the person, who is the secondary agent cause, and not of God, who is the primary agent. It does, however, fall to God to allow such defects to happen, since, if he so willed it, he could uphold the person from falling. But one may ask, why does God not so order the world that he prevents all defects from occurring? It is obvious that God has not done this, but instead has ordered the world in such a way that evil can result from secondary agent causes. Aquinas gives several reasons for this.

One reason that God permits evil to result from secondary causes is that “perfect goodness would not be found in created things unless there were an order of goodness in them, in the sense that some of them are better than others.” 20 Lacking an order in which there were a hierarchy of goods, then the highest beauty, and also multiplicity, would be taken away. Therefore, there would only be one created good, which disparages the perfection of the creature.

Now, it is a higher grade of goodness for a thing to be good because it cannot fall from goodness; lower than that is the thing which can fall from goodness. So, the perfection of the universe requires both grades of goodness. But it pertains to the providence of the governor to preserve perfection in the things governed, and not to decrease it. Therefore, it does not pertain to divine goodness, entirely to exclude from things the power of falling from the good. 21

The perfection of the universe involves the lower good of a thing which can fall from goodness, i.e., man, endowed with free will. Likewise, whatever has the ability to fall can at times fall. The resultant fall from the good is what produces evil and, thus, it is not part of the divine plan that evil should be entirely excluded.

Another reason for the divine permission of defects in secondary causes is derived from the fact that every agent acts for the sake of some good. No agent acts for an evil end, since the good is what all men desire. For example, if a man has intercourse with a woman, he desires the pleasure of the act, which is a good. However, if the woman is not his wife, the act will be adultery, which is an evil resulting from a disordered pursuit of the intended good of pleasure. “But, to prohibit universally the intending of the good for the individual on the part of created things is not the function of the providence of Him Who is the cause of every good thing. For, in that way, many goods would be taken away from the whole of things.” 22

Still another reason—and this a very important one—is that many goods would not occur unless some evils were allowed. For example, if a lion did not kill a gazelle, which is its source of food, then the lion would not have food to survive. Likewise, we would not have the example of the patience of the martyrs had not the Roman emperors persecuted Christians in the early Church. “So, if evil were totally excluded from the whole of things by divine providence, a multitude of good things would have to be sacrificed. This ought not to be, for the good is stronger in its goodness than evil is in its malice.” 23

The Cross of Christ

As we have seen, God orders the world in such a way that all things are ordered to particular goods and, to him, as the ultimate good. Within this order, as Christians believe, God created the first man and woman in a state of original justice and harmony. Due to their disobedience, they sinned against God, causing them, and all of their descendants, to fall from the original state in which they were created. Because of God’s justice, which it is impossible for him to violate, the human race was punished with separation from God. The separation was not a total depravity of their nature, but the imago dei in man was marred. This act of sin towards God could only be repaired by an act equal with the dignity of the one who was offended. But, since God is infinite, no finite creature is able to make reparation. Thus, only God is capable of mending the rift between God and man, brought about by the sin of Adam. Even though only God is capable of redeeming man, it still is not strictly necessary that God had to become man and die on the cross to achieve this. He could have done it another way, and this is where atheists object to the Christian understanding of the cross. Thus, our atheist interlocutor:

I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sado-masochistic and repellent. …If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment…? 24

Indeed, it is hard for one who has spent his entire life railing against God to understand the mysterious nature of his ways. The cross of Christ, within the divine plan of God, does seem to be foolish to those who are occupied with worldly things.

Christ’s cross is a folly, i.e., it appears foolish, to them that are perishing, i.e., to unbelievers, who consider themselves wise according to the world, for the preaching of the cross of Christ contains something which, to worldly wisdom, seems impossible; for example, that God should die, or that Omnipotence should suffer at the hands of violent men. 25

Yet, if we look at the cross in light of God’s divine plan, and not according to worldly wisdom, we can see that it was most fitting for God to redeem man through the cross, even though he could have accomplished this task in some other way.

Now, Aquinas teaches that, with regards to the cross, there are two ways in which it could be said to be possible, or impossible, for God to save us in some other way. 26 The first is simply and absolutely, the second from supposition. In the first way, it is indeed possible for God to deliver man in some other way than the cross. But according to the second way, supposition, it was not possible. From all eternity, God had ordained salvation to come about through the cross. Since it is not possible for God’s providential plan to be frustrated, according to the divine plan, it was not possible for man to be redeemed in another way. As we noted above, God ordained the world to be according to justice. Therefore, if a sin is committed, it requires a just penalty. He also ordained that man would have free will and, thus, would be able to choose evil instead of the good to which he is ordered. Now, seeing from all eternity the fall of Adam, resulting from the misuse of his free will, and in keeping with his justice and mercy, God preordained that Christ should suffer and die on the cross in order to redeem the world.

That man should be delivered by Christ’s Passion was in keeping with both his mercy and his justice. With his justice, because, by his Passion, Christ made satisfaction for the sin of the human race; and so man was set free by Christ’s justice: and with his mercy, for since man, of himself, could not satisfy for the sin of all human nature. 27

Yet, even if it were necessary for Christ to die on the cross according to God’s providence, the objection can still be raised that it was not the most fitting way for man’s redemption to come about.

St. Thomas posed three objections to the fittingness of the cross which coincide with the objections of our atheist interlocutor: 1) God could have saved man merely by his divine will; 2) Natural actions seem more suitable than violent ones, therefore, it is more fitting that, if Christ were to die for man, it was brought about so that he did not have to suffer with violence; 3) Since the Devil deceived our first parents by guile and held the human race in bondage by a sort of violence, it would seem more fitting that the overthrow of Satan take place without violence, but rather, solely, through the power of Christ. 28 Aquinas answers these objections by pointing out that much more than the deliverance from sin happened as a result of the cross. And since, “among means to an end, that one is the more suitable whereby the various concurring means employed are themselves helpful.” 29 St. Thomas lists the fivefold effects resulting from Christ’s death on the cross as follows:

  1. Man knows, thereby, how much God loves him, and is, thereby, stirred to love him in return, and herein lies the perfection of human salvation.
  2. He set us an example of obedience, humility, constancy, justice, and the other virtues, displayed in the Passion, which are requisite for man’s salvation.
  3. Christ, by his Passion, not only delivered man from sin, but also merited justifying grace for him and the glory of bliss.
  4. By this, man is all the more bound to refrain from sin.
  5. It redounded to man’s greater dignity that, as man, was overcome and deceived by the devil, so also, it should be a man that should overthrow the devil; and as man deserved death, so a man, by dying, should vanquish death. 30

Thus, through the grace poured forth from the cross, man is better off than he would have been had Adam not sinned.

Here, another objection comes about, namely that God sent his Son into the world to die! What kind of God does such a thing, fitting or not? It may show that God loves man, but what about his love for the Son? Sending a person to die on the cross would seem to be a lousy way of showing that you love someone. The atheist would keep us from denying that this is God’s intention by pointing to John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Thomas Aquinas, in commenting on this passage of the Gospel of John responds:

But did God give his Son with the intention that he should die on the cross? He did, indeed, give him for the death of the cross, inasmuch as he gave him the will to suffer on it. And he did this in two ways. First, because as the Son of God he willed from eternity to assume flesh, and to suffer for us; and this will he had from the Father. Secondly, because the will to suffer was infused into the soul of Christ by God.31

Now, this might seem as though God the Father, in sending his Son to die on the cross, not only had him die, but also forced him to die. An atheist hearing this would not move toward Christianity, but, indeed, be repulsed,  accusing God of all kinds of wickedness. After all, if God sent his own innocent Son to die a tortuous death at the hands of criminals that would be the height of wickedness and cruelty. Aquinas agrees that the above statement would be true, but for one key distinction:

It is, indeed, a wicked and cruel act to hand over an innocent man to torment and to death against his will. Yet, God the Father did not so deliver up Christ, but inspired him with the will to suffer for us. 32

What does it mean that God inspired Christ with the will to suffer for us? Does inspire mean that God coerced his Son to die? Did Jesus Christ die on the cross against his will, at the hands of a sadistic God? With Aquinas, we can resolutely answer, “no.” In the Tertia Pars of the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas answers the objection that it seems as if Christ did not have free will:

As was said above (A. 3), there was a double act of the will in Christ; one whereby he was drawn to anything wished for in itself, which implies the nature of an end; the other whereby his will was drawn to anything wished for on account of its ordination to another—which pertains to the nature of means. Now, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii. 2) choice differs from will in this, that will, of itself, regards the end, and choice regards the means. And, thus, simple will is the same as the will as nature; but choice is the same as the will as reason, and is the proper act of free-will, as was said in the First Part (Q. 83, A. 3). Hence, since will as reason is placed in Christ, we must also place choice, and consequently free-will, whose act is choice, as was said in the First Part (ibid.). 33

God does not impose the suffering upon Christ, but instead proposes it, and Christ is obedient and accepts it. Hence, Christ did not suffer against his will, rather he freely chose to sacrifice himself on the cross for man’s salvation, a sacrifice which the Father receives in love.

Given that Christ freely offered himself and went to the cross, not out of coercion, but out of love, one last objection remains from our atheist:

If Jesus wanted to be betrayed and then murdered, in order that he could redeem us all, isn’t it rather unfair of those who consider themselves redeemed to take it out on Judas, and on Jews, down the ages? 34

Aside from the frivolous insinuation that Christians have blamed Jews throughout the centuries for the death of Christ (and his obliviousness to the fact that all of the first Christians were Jews!), the objection of the atheist hinges on the assertion that, if it was preordained from all eternity that Christ should die on the cross, why should Judas, or the Chief Priests, or the Romans, or anyone involved with the death of Christ, be blamed, since they were merely carrying out what God had willed from all eternity? The answer lies in our previous discussion of God’s providence and what it does and does not include.

Every act that is caused by God, which includes every human act, is ordered to the good. Hence, whatever free act man does, is from God. But, whatever evil act comes about is a result of a person’s disordered will, and a privation of the good in the act. Thus, Judas’ free choice to betray Christ came not from God, but from himself. Therefore, the culpability of Christ’s death lies with Judas alone, and not with God and Jesus Christ. What is even more damning for Judas, is that Christ died on the cross for him. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the means for Judas to be forgiven for handing Christ over, just as it was for Peter after his denial. Peter freely chose repentance and forgiveness, Judas chose despair and perdition.

The cross of Christ, then, instead of being a wicked and sadistic act committed on the part of God, is the ultimate expression in the economic order of God’s essence.

For God is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. 35

God loves his creatures so much, that even though he gained no glory in creating them, and even though he did not have to create them, when they spurned him, he humbled himself, taking on the form of sinful nature and, while they were still sinners, died a horrible death on the cross for their salvation. That is the expression of infinite love. That is the cross.


When one examines the mystery of divine providence, and its relation to the cross of Christ from the viewpoint of wisdom, which is knowledge of divine things, he sees God’s wonderful plan of redemption for his creatures. God allows evil to come about because, through such evil, he brings about a greater good. Through the evil of the cross came forth our salvation. With St. Paul, we recognize that those with worldly wisdom see the cross as folly and scandal. Yet, for those with the eyes of faith, the cross is the dei virtutem, and in light of it, we proclaim with the Easter Vigil Liturgy:

O certe necessarium Adae peccatum, quod Christi morte deletum est! O felix culpa, quae talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem!

  1. 1 Cor 1:23. All quotations from Scripture are from the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006).
  2.  Cf. Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), 251: “It is, when you think about it, remarkable that a religion should adopt an instrument of torture and execution as its sacred symbol, often worn around the neck.” Also from Dawkins, The God Delusion, 252: “But now, the sado-masochism. God incarnated himself as a man, Jesus, in order that he should be tortured and executed in atonement for the hereditary sin of Adam.” (emphasis in the original)
  3. Summa Theologiae Ia. Q. 1 a. 8, trans. Fathers of the Dominican Province (Allen, TX: Christian Classics, 1981).
  4. Ibid.: “Si vero adversarius nihil credat eorum, quae divinitus revelantur, non remanet amplius via ad probandum articulos fidei per rationes, sed ad solvendum rationes, si quas inducit contra fidem.”
  5. ST Ia. Q. 22 a. 1: “Ipsa igitur ratio ordinis rerum in finem providentia in Deo nominatur.”
  6. ST Ia Q. 22 a. 2: “Cum enim omne agens agat propter finem, tantum se extendit ordinatio effctuum in finem, quantum se extendit causalitas primi agentis.”
  7. On Evil, Q. 1 a. 1. trans. Richard Regan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003): “Dicendum quod sicut album, ita et malum dupliciter dicitur. Uno enim modo cum dicitur album, potest intelligi id quod est albedini subiectum; alio modo album dicitur id quod est album, in quantum est album, scilicet ipsum accidens. Et similiter malum uno modo potest intelligi id quod est subiectum mali, et hoc aliquid est: alio modo potest intelligi ipsum malum, et hoc non est aliquid, sed est ipsa privatio alicuius particularis boni.”
  8. Ethics, I, 1 (1094a2-3).
  9. On Evil, Q. 1 a. 1: “omne agens agit propter finem, et propter aliquod bonum.”
  10. Cf. ST I Q. 2 a. 3.
  11. On Evil, Q. 1 a. 1.: “…necesse est primum et universale appetibile esse primum et universale bonum, quod omnia operatur propter appetitum sui ipsius. Sicut ergo quidquid est in rebus oportet quod proveniat a prima et universali causa essendi, ita quidquid est in rebus oportet quod proveniat a primo et universali bono. Quod autem provenit a primo et universali bono, non potest esse nisi bonum particulare tantum; sicut quod provenit a prima et universali causa essendi, est aliquod particulare ens. Omne ergo quod est aliquid in rebus, oportet quod sit aliquod particulare bonum; unde non potest secundum id quod est, bono opponi.”
  12. Ibid., Q. 1 a. 2 (translation amended): “Cum autem malum, ut supra dictum est, nihil aliud sit quam privatio debitae perfectionis; privatio autem non sit nisi in ente in potentia, quia hoc privari dicimus quod natum est habere aliquid et non habet.
  13. Cf. Ibid., Q. 1 a. 3: “Manifestum est enim, cum malum non sit aliquid per se existens, sed sit aliquid inhaerens, ut privatio (quae quidem est defectus eius quod est natum inesse et non inest), quod esse malum non naturaliter inest ei cui inest.”
  14. Cf. Ibid.
  15. Ibid., Q. 3 a. 1: “Est ergo hoc Deo conveniens quod omnia ad se ipsum convertat, et per consequens quod nihil avertat a se ipso. Ipse autem est summum bonum. Unde non potest esse causa aversionis voluntatis a summo bono, in quo ratio culpae consistit prout nunc loquimur de culpa.”
  16. Ibid., Q. 3 a. 1 ad. 4.
  17. Ibid., Q. 3 a. 2: “Necesse est enim omnes motus secundarum causarum causari a primo movente, sicut omnes motus inferiorum corporum causantur a motu caeli. Deus autem est primum movens respectu omnium motuum et spiritualium et corporalium, sicut corpus caeleste est principium omnium motuum inferiorum corporum. Unde cum actus peccati sit quidam motus liberi arbitrii, necesse est dicere quod actus peccati, in quantum est actus, sit a Deo.”
  18. Summa Contra Gentiles, Bk 3 ch. 73.5, trans. Vernon J. Bourke (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975): “Providentia est multiplicativa bonorum in rebus gubernatis. Illud ergo per quod multa bona subtraherentur a rebus, non pertinet ad providentiam. Si autem libertas voluntatis tolleretur, multa bona subtraherentur. Tolleretur enim laus virtutis humanae, quae nulla est si homo libere non agit. Tolleretur etiam iustitia praemiantis et punientis, si non libere homo ageret bonum vel malum. Cessaret etiam circumspectio in consiliis, quae de his quae ex necessitate aguntur, frustra tractantur. Esset igitur contra providentiae rationem si subtraheretur voluntatis libertas.”
  19. Ibid., Bk 3 ch. 71.2: “Divina enim gubernatio, qua Deus operatur in rebus, non excludit operationem causarum secundarum, sicut iam ostensum est. Contingit autem provenire defectum in effectu propter defectum causae secundae agentis, absque eo quod sit defectus in primo agente.”
  20. SCG, Bk 3 ch. 71.3:“Perfecta bonitas in rebus creatis non inveniretur nisi esset ordo bonitatis in eis, ut scilicet quaedam sint aliis meliora.
  21. Ibid.: “Gradus autem bonitatis superior est ut aliquid sit bonum quod non possit a bonitate deficere: inferior autem eo est quod potest a bonitate deficere. Utrumque igitur gradum bonitatis perfectio universi requirit. Ad providentiam autem gubernantis pertinet perfectionem in rebus gubernatis servare, non autem eam minuere. Igitur non pertinet ad divinam providentiam ut omnino excludat a rebus potentiam deficiendi a bono.”
  22. Ibid., Bk 3 ch. 71.5: “Prohibere autem cuiuscumque boni intentionem universaliter a rebus creatis, non pertinet ad providentiam eius qui est omnis boni causa: sic enim multa bona subtraherentur ab universitate rerum.”
  23. Ibid., Bk 3 ch. 71.6: “Si ergo malum totaliter ab universitate rerum per divinam providentiam excluderetur, oporteret etiam bonorum multitudinem diminui. Quod esse non debet: quia virtuosius est bonum in bonitate quam in malitia malum.
  24. Dawkins, The God Delusion, 253.
  25. Aquinas, Thomas, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, trans. Fabian Larcher, O.P., Chapter 1, Lecture 3, par. 47: “Crucis Christi, stultitia est, id est stultum aliquid videtur, pereuntibus quidem, id est, infidelibus qui se secundum mundum existimant sapientes, eo quod praedicatio crucis Christi aliquid continet, quod secundum humanam sapientiam impossibile videtur, puta quod Deus moriatur, quod omnipotens violentorum manibus subiiciatur.”
  26. ST III Q. 46 a. 2 co.
  27. ST III Q. 46 a. 1 ad. 3: “Quod hominem liberari per passionem Christi conveniens fuit et misericordiae, et justitiae ejus: justitiae quidem, quia per passionem suam Christus satisfecit pro peccato humani generis: et ita homo per justitiam Christi liberatus est: misericordiae vero, quia cum homo per se satisfacere non posset pro peccato totius humanae naturae.”
  28. ST III Q. 46 a. 3.
  29. Ibid.: “Quod tanto aliquis modus convenientior est ad assequendum finem, quanto per ipsum plura concurrunt, quae sunt expedientia fini.”
  30. Aquinas, Thomas, Commentary on the Gospel of John: Chapter 1-5, ch. 3, lecture 3, par. 478, trans. Fabian Larcher, O.P. and James A. Weisheipl, O.P. (Washington, D.C.: CUA Press, 2010), 181: “Sed numquid ad hoc dedit eum ut moreretur in cruce? Dedit quidem eum ad mortem crucis, inquantum dedit voluntatem patiendi in ea: et hoc dupliciter. Primo quia inquantum filius Dei, ab aeterno habuit voluntatem assumendi carnem, et patiendi pro nobis, et hanc voluntatem habuit a patre. Secundo vero quia animae Christi inspirata est a Deo voluntas patiendi.”
  31. Aquinas, Thomas, Commentary on the Gospel of John: Chapter 1-5, ch. 3, lecture 3, par. 478, trans. Fabian Larcher, O.P. and James A. Weisheipl, O.P. (Washington, D.C.: CUA Press, 2010), 181: “Sed numquid ad hoc dedit eum ut moreretur in cruce? Dedit quidem eum ad mortem crucis, inquantum dedit voluntatem patiendi in ea: et hoc dupliciter. Primo quia inquantum filius Dei, ab aeterno habuit voluntatem assumendi carnem, et patiendi pro nobis, et hanc voluntatem habuit a patre. Secundo vero quia animae Christi inspirata est a Deo voluntas patiendi.”
  32. ST III Q. 47 a. 3 ad. 1, (emphasis added): “Innocentem hominem passioni, et morti tradere contra ejus voluntatem est impium, et crudele: sic autem Deus Pater Christum non tradidit, sed inspirando ei voluntatem patiendi pro nobis.”
  33. ST III Q. 18 a. 4 co. “Sicut dictum est (art. 1. huj. q. ad 3.), in Christo fuit duplex actus voluntatis: unus quidem, quo ejus voluntas ferebatur in aliquid, sicut secundum se volitum: quod pertinet ad rationem finis; alius autem, secundum quem ejus voluntas ferebatur in aliquid per ordinem ad aliud: quod pertinet ad rationem ejus quod est ad finem: differt autem, ut Philosophus dicit in 3. Ethic. (cap. 2.), electio a voluntate in hoc, quod voluntas, per se loquendo, est ipsius finis; electio autem eorum quae sunt ad finem: et sic simpliciter voluntas est idem, quod voluntas ut natura: electio autem est idem, quod voluntas ut ratio; et est proprius actus liberi arbitrii, ut in 1. dictum est (q. 83. art. 3. et 4.); et ideo cum in Christo ponatur voluntas ut ratio, necesse est etiam ponere electionem, et per consequens liberum arbitrium, cujus actus est electio, ut in 1. habitum est (ibid. et 1-2. q. 13. art. 1.).”
  34. Dawkins, The God Delusion, 252.
  35. 1 Jn 4:8-10.
Daniel M. Garland, Jr. About Daniel M. Garland, Jr.

Daniel M. Garland, Jr., is a Ph.D. candidate in Systematic Theology at Ave Maria University. He has taught theology at Ave Maria University, Christendom College, and for the Permanent Diaconate Programs of the Diocese of New Ulm, MN, Arlington, VA, and the Archdiocese of Washington. His articles have appeared in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Maynooth Theological Journal, Heythrop Journal, Angelicum, and National Catholic Register. He is also the first English translator of St. Jerome’s Commentary on the Prophet Haggai, which is published with IVP Academic’s Ancient Christian Texts series.