Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene

How Do We Draw Near to God?

We draw near to God spiritually (God is spirit, after all); or so says Thomas.

In ST I, Q. 3, Art. 1, Aquinas raises the following as the fifth objection to the question “Whether God is a body?”:

Objection 5. Further, only bodies or things corporeal can be a local term “wherefrom” or “whereto.” But in the Scriptures God is spoken of as a local term “whereto,” according to the words, “Come ye to Him and be enlightened” (Psalm 33:6), and as a term “wherefrom”: “All they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth” (Jeremiah 17:13). Therefore God is a body. (ST I, Q. 3, Art. 1, arg. 5)

He replies in the following way:

Reply to Objection 5. We draw near to God by no corporeal steps, since He is everywhere, but by the affections of our soul, and by the actions of that same soul do we withdraw from Him; thus, to draw near to or to withdraw signifies merely spiritual actions based on the metaphor of local motion. (ST I, Q. 3, Art. 1, ad. 5)


By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.