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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF APOSTASY (TWO ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF APOSTASY (TWO ARTICLES)

We must now consider apostasy: about which there are two points of
inquiry:

(1) Whether apostasy pertains to unbelief?

(2) Whether, on account of apostasy from the faith, subjects are
absolved from allegiance to an apostate prince?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether apostasy pertains to unbelief?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that apostasy does not pertain to unbelief. For
that which is the origin of all sins, does not, seemingly, pertain to
unbelief, since many sins there are without unbelief. Now apostasy seems
to be the origin of every sin, for it is written (Ecclus. 10:14): "The
beginning of the pride of man is apostasy [Douay: 'to fall off'] from
God," and further on, (Ecclus. 10:15): "Pride is the beginning of all
sin." Therefore apostasy does not pertain to unbelief.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, unbelief is an act of the understanding: whereas
apostasy seems rather to consist in some outward deed or utterance, or
even in some inward act of the will, for it is written (Prov. 6:12-14):
"A man that is an apostate, an unprofitable man walketh with a perverse
mouth. He winketh with the eyes, presseth with the foot, speaketh with
the finger. With a wicked heart he deviseth evil, and at all times he
soweth discord." Moreover if anyone were to have himself circumcised, or
to worship at the tomb of Mahomet, he would be deemed an apostate.
Therefore apostasy does not pertain to unbelief.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, heresy, since it pertains to unbelief, is a determinate
species of unbelief. If then, apostasy pertained to unbelief, it would
follow that it is a determinate species of unbelief, which does not seem
to agree with what has been said (Q[10], A[5]). Therefore apostasy does
not pertain to unbelief.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Jn. 6:67): "Many of his disciples went
back," i.e. apostatized, of whom Our Lord had said previously (Jn. 6:65):
"There are some of you that believe not." Therefore apostasy pertains to
unbelief.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Apostasy denotes a backsliding from God. This may happen
in various ways according to the different kinds of union between man and
God. For, in the first place, man is united to God by faith; secondly, by
having his will duly submissive in obeying His commandments; thirdly, by
certain special things pertaining to supererogation such as the religious
life, the clerical state, or Holy Orders. Now if that which follows be
removed, that which precedes, remains, but the converse does not hold.
Accordingly a man may apostatize from God, by withdrawing from the
religious life to which he was bound by profession, or from the Holy
Order which he had received: and this is called "apostasy from religious
life" or "Orders." A man may also apostatize from God, by rebelling in
his mind against the Divine commandments: and though man may apostatize
in both the above ways, he may still remain united to God by faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] Body Para. 2/2

But if he give up the faith, then he seems to turn away from God
altogether: and consequently, apostasy simply and absolutely is that
whereby a man withdraws from the faith, and is called "apostasy of
perfidy." In this way apostasy, simply so called, pertains to unbelief.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This objection refers to the second kind of apostasy, which
denotes an act of the will in rebellion against God's commandments, an
act that is to be found in every mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: It belongs to faith not only that the heart should believe,
but also that external words and deeds should bear witness to the inward
faith, for confession is an act of faith. In this way too, certain
external words or deeds pertain to unbelief, in so far as they are signs
of unbelief, even as a sign of health is said itself to be healthy. Now
although the authority quoted may be understood as referring to every
kind of apostate, yet it applies most truly to an apostate from the
faith. For since faith is the first foundation of things to be hoped for,
and since, without faith it is "impossible to please God"; when once
faith is removed, man retains nothing that may be useful for the
obtaining of eternal salvation, for which reason it is written (Prov.
6:12): "A man that is an apostate, an unprofitable man": because faith is
the life of the soul, according to Rm. 1:17: "The just man liveth by
faith." Therefore, just as when the life of the body is taken away, man's
every member and part loses its due disposition, so when the life of
justice, which is by faith, is done away, disorder appears in all his
members. First, in his mouth, whereby chiefly his mind stands revealed;
secondly, in his eyes; thirdly, in the instrument of movement; fourthly,
in his will, which tends to evil. The result is that "he sows discord,"
endeavoring to sever others from the faith even as he severed himself.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The species of a quality or form are not diversified by the
fact of its being the term "wherefrom" or "whereto" of movement: on the
contrary, it is the movement that takes its species from the terms. Now
apostasy regards unbelief as the term "whereto" of the movement of
withdrawal from the faith; wherefore apostasy does not imply a special
kind of unbelief, but an aggravating circumstance thereof, according to 2
Pt. 2:21: "It had been better for them not to know the truth [Vulg.: 'the
way of justice'], than after they had known it, to turn back."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether a prince forfeits his dominion over his subjects, on account of
apostasy from the faith, so that they no longer owe him allegiance?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that a prince does not so forfeit his dominion over
his subjects, on account of apostasy from the faith, that they no longer
owe him allegiance. For Ambrose [*St. Augustine, Super Ps. 124:3] says
that the Emperor Julian, though an apostate, nevertheless had under him
Christian soldiers, who when he said to them, "Fall into line for the
defense of the republic," were bound to obey. Therefore subjects are not
absolved from their allegiance to their prince on account of his apostasy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, an apostate from the faith is an unbeliever. Now we find
that certain holy men served unbelieving masters; thus Joseph served
Pharaoh, Daniel served Nabuchodonosor, and Mardochai served Assuerus.
Therefore apostasy from the faith does not release subjects from
allegiance to their sovereign.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, just as by apostasy from the faith, a man turns away
from God, so does every sin. Consequently if, on account of apostasy from
the faith, princes were to lose their right to command those of their
subjects who are believers, they would equally lose it on account of
other sins: which is evidently not the case. Therefore we ought not to
refuse allegiance to a sovereign on account of his apostatizing from the
faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory VII says (Council, Roman V): "Holding to the
institutions of our holy predecessors, we, by our apostolic authority,
absolve from their oath those who through loyalty or through the sacred
bond of an oath owe allegiance to excommunicated persons: and we
absolutely forbid them to continue their allegiance to such persons,
until these shall have made amends." Now apostates from the faith, like
heretics, are excommunicated, according to the Decretal [*Extra, De
Haereticis, cap. Ad abolendam]. Therefore princes should not be obeyed
when they have apostatized from the faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (Q[10], A[10]), unbelief, in itself, is
not inconsistent with dominion, since dominion is a device of the law of
nations which is a human law: whereas the distinction between believers
and unbelievers is of Divine right, which does not annul human right.
Nevertheless a man who sins by unbelief may be sentenced to the loss of
his right of dominion, as also, sometimes, on account of other sins.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

Now it is not within the competency of the Church to punish unbelief in
those who have never received the faith, according to the saying of the
Apostle (1 Cor. 5:12): "What have I to do to judge them that are
without?" She can, however, pass sentence of punishment on the unbelief
of those who have received the faith: and it is fitting that they should
be punished by being deprived of the allegiance of their subjects: for
this same allegiance might conduce to great corruption of the faith,
since, as was stated above (A[1], OBJ[2]), "a man that is an apostate . .
. with a wicked heart deviseth evil, and . . . soweth discord," in order
to sever others from the faith. Consequently, as soon as sentence of
excommunication is passed on a man on account of apostasy from the faith,
his subjects are "ipso facto" absolved from his authority and from the
oath of allegiance whereby they were bound to him.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: At that time the Church was but recently instituted, and
had not, as yet, the power of curbing earthly princes; and so she allowed
the faithful to obey Julian the apostate, in matters that were not
contrary to the faith, in order to avoid incurring a yet greater danger.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: As stated in the article, it is not a question of those
unbelievers who have never received the faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[12] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Apostasy from the faith severs man from God altogether, as
stated above (A[1]), which is not the case in any other sin.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] Out. Para. 1/2

OF THE SIN OF BLASPHEMY, IN GENERAL (FOUR ARTICLES)

We must now consider the sin of blasphemy, which is opposed to the
confession of faith; and (1) blasphemy in general, (2) that blasphemy
which is called the sin against the Holy Ghost.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] Out. Para. 2/2

Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether blasphemy is opposed to the confession of faith?

(2) Whether blasphemy is always a mortal sin?

(3) Whether blasphemy is the most grievous sin?

(4) Whether blasphemy is in the damned?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether blasphemy is opposed to the confession of faith?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that blasphemy is not opposed to the confession of
faith. Because to blaspheme is to utter an affront or insult against the
Creator. Now this pertains to ill-will against God rather than to
unbelief. Therefore blasphemy is not opposed to the confession of faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, on Eph. 4:31, "Let blasphemy . . . be put away from
you," a gloss says, "that which is committed against God or the saints."
But confession of faith, seemingly, is not about other things than those
pertaining to God, Who is the object of faith. Therefore blasphemy is not
always opposed to the confession of faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, according to some, there are three kinds of blasphemy.
The first of these is when something unfitting is affirmed of God; the
second is when something fitting is denied of Him; and the third, when
something proper to God is ascribed to a creature, so that, seemingly,
blasphemy is not only about God, but also about His creatures. Now the
object of faith is God. Therefore blasphemy is not opposed to confession
of faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Tim. 1:12,13): "I . . . before was
a blasphemer and a persecutor," and afterwards, "I did it ignorantly in"
my "unbelief." Hence it seems that blasphemy pertains to unbelief.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, The word blasphemy seems to denote the disparagement of
some surpassing goodness, especially that of God. Now God, as Dionysius
says (Div. Nom. i), is the very essence of true goodness. Hence whatever
befits God, pertains to His goodness, and whatever does not befit Him, is
far removed from the perfection of goodness which is His Essence.
Consequently whoever either denies anything befitting God, or affirms
anything unbefitting Him, disparages the Divine goodness.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] Body Para. 2/2

Now this may happen in two ways. In the first way it may happen merely
in respect of the opinion in the intellect; in the second way this
opinion is united to a certain detestation in the affections, even as, on
the other hand, faith in God is perfected by love of Him. Accordingly
this disparagement of the Divine goodness is either in the intellect
alone, or in the affections also. If it is in thought only, it is
blasphemy of the heart, whereas if it betrays itself outwardly in speech
it is blasphemy is opposed to confession of faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: He that speaks against God, with the intention of reviling
Him, disparages the Divine goodness, not only in respect of the falsehood
in his intellect, but also by reason of the wickedness of his will,
whereby he detests and strives to hinder the honor due to God, and this
is perfect blasphemy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Even as God is praised in His saints, in so far as praise
is given to the works which God does in His saints, so does blasphemy
against the saints, redound, as a consequence, against God.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Properly speaking, the sin of blasphemy is not in this way
divided into three species: since to affirm unfitting things, or to deny
fitting things of God, differ merely as affirmation and negation. For
this diversity does not cause distinct species of habits, since the
falsehood of affirmations and negations is made known by the same
knowledge, and it is the same ignorance which errs in either way, since
negatives are proved by affirmatives, according to Poster. i, 25. Again
to ascribe to creatures things that are proper to God, seems to amount to
the same as affirming something unfitting of Him, since whatever is
proper to God is God Himself: and to ascribe to a creature, that which is
proper to God, is to assert that God is the same as a creature.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether blasphemy is always a mortal sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that blasphemy is not always a mortal sin. Because
a gloss on the words, "Now lay you also all away," etc. (Col. 3:8) says:
"After prohibiting greater crimes he forbids lesser sins": and yet among
the latter he includes blasphemy. Therefore blasphemy is comprised among
the lesser, i.e. venial, sins.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, every mortal sin is opposed to one of the precepts of
the decalogue. But, seemingly, blasphemy is not contrary to any of them.
Therefore blasphemy is not a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, sins committed without deliberation, are not mortal:
hence first movements are not mortal sins, because they precede the
deliberation of the reason, as was shown above (FS, Q[74], AA[3],10). Now
blasphemy sometimes occurs without deliberation of the reason. Therefore
it is not always a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Lev. 24:16): "He that blasphemeth the
name of the Lord, dying let him die." Now the death punishment is not
inflicted except for a mortal sin. Therefore blasphemy is a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (FS, Q[72], A[5]), a mortal sin is one
whereby a man is severed from the first principle of spiritual life,
which principle is the charity of God. Therefore whatever things are
contrary to charity, are mortal sins in respect of their genus. Now
blasphemy, as to its genus, is opposed to Divine charity, because, as
stated above (A[1]), it disparages the Divine goodness, which is the
object of charity. Consequently blasphemy is a mortal sin, by reason of
its genus.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This gloss is not to be understood as meaning that all the
sins which follow, are mortal, but that whereas all those mentioned
previously are more grievous sins, some of those mentioned afterwards are
less grievous; and yet among the latter some more grievous sins are
included.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Since, as stated above (A[1]), blasphemy is contrary to the
confession of faith, its prohibition is comprised under the prohibition
of unbelief, expressed by the words: "I am the Lord thy God," etc. (Ex.
20:1). Or else, it is forbidden by the words: "Thou shalt not take the
name of . . . God in vain" (Ex. 20:7). Because he who asserts something
false about God, takes His name in vain even more than he who uses the
name of God in confirmation of a falsehood.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: There are two ways in which blasphemy may occur unawares
and without deliberation. In the first way, by a man failing to advert to
the blasphemous nature of his words, and this may happen through his
being moved suddenly by passion so as to break out into words suggested
by his imagination, without heeding to the meaning of those words: this
is a venial sin, and is not a blasphemy properly so called. In the second
way, by adverting to the meaning of his words, and to their blasphemous
nature: in which case he is not excused from mortal sin, even as neither
is he who, in a sudden movement of anger, kills one who is sitting beside
him.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the sin of blasphemy is the greatest sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the sin of blasphemy is not the greatest sin.
For, according to Augustine (Enchiridion xii), a thing is said to be evil
because it does harm. Now the sin of murder, since it destroys a man's
life, does more harm than the sin of blasphemy, which can do no harm to
God. Therefore the sin of murder is more grievous than that of blasphemy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, a perjurer calls upon God to witness to a falsehood, and
thus seems to assert that God is false. But not every blasphemer goes so
far as to say that God is false. Therefore perjury is a more grievous sin
than blasphemy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, on Ps. 74:6, "Lift not up your horn on high," a gloss
says: "To excuse oneself for sin is the greatest sin of all." Therefore
blasphemy is not the greatest sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, On Is. 18:2, "To a terrible people," etc. a gloss says:
"In comparison with blasphemy, every sin is slight."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (A[1]), blasphemy is opposed to the
confession of faith, so that it contains the gravity of unbelief: while
the sin is aggravated if the will's detestation is added thereto, and yet
more, if it breaks out into words, even as love and confession add to the
praise of faith.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

Therefore, since, as stated above (Q[10], A[3]), unbelief is the
greatest of sins in respect of its genus, it follows that blasphemy also
is a very great sin, through belonging to the same genus as unbelief and
being an aggravated form of that sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: If we compare murder and blasphemy as regards the objects
of those sins, it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed
directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against
one's neighbor. On the other hand, if we compare them in respect of the
harm wrought by them, murder is the graver sin, for murder does more harm
to one's neighbor, than blasphemy does to God. Since, however, the
gravity of a sin depends on the intention of the evil will, rather than
on the effect of the deed, as was shown above (FS, Q[73], A[8]), it
follows that, as the blasphemer intends to do harm to God's honor,
absolutely speaking, he sins more grievously that the murderer.
Nevertheless murder takes precedence, as to punishment, among sins
committed against our neighbor.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: A gloss on the words, "Let . . . blasphemy be put away from
you" (Eph. 4:31) says: "Blasphemy is worse than perjury." The reason is
that the perjurer does not say or think something false about God, as the
blasphemer does: but he calls God to witness to a falsehood, not that he
deems God a false witness, but in the hope, as it were, that God will not
testify to the matter by some evident sign.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: To excuse oneself for sin is a circumstance that aggravates
every sin, even blasphemy itself: and it is called the most grievous sin,
for as much as it makes every sin more grievous.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the damned blaspheme?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the damned do not blaspheme. Because some
wicked men are deterred from blaspheming now, on account of the fear of
future punishment. But the damned are undergoing these punishments, so
that they abhor them yet more. Therefore, much more are they restrained
from blaspheming.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, since blasphemy is a most grievous sin, it is most
demeritorious. Now in the life to come there is no state of meriting or
demeriting. Therefore there will be no place for blasphemy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, it is written (Eccles. 11:3) that "the tree . . . in
what place soever it shall fall, there shall it be": whence it clearly
follows that, after this life, man acquires neither merit nor sin, which
he did not already possess in this life. Now many will be damned who were
not blasphemous in this life. Neither, therefore, will they blaspheme in
the life to come.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Apoc. 16:9): "The men were scorched with
great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God, Who hath power over
these plagues," and a gloss on these words says that "those who are in
hell, though aware that they are deservedly punished, will nevertheless
complain that God is so powerful as to torture them thus." Now this would
be blasphemy in their present state: and consequently it will also be in
their future state.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (AA[1],3), detestation of the Divine
goodness is a necessary condition of blasphemy. Now those who are in hell
retain their wicked will which is turned away from God's justice, since
they love the things for which they are punished, would wish to use them
if they could, and hate the punishments inflicted on them for those same
sins. They regret indeed the sins which they have committed, not because
they hate them, but because they are punished for them. Accordingly this
detestation of the Divine justice is, in them, the interior blasphemy of
the heart: and it is credible that after the resurrection they will
blaspheme God with the tongue, even as the saints will praise Him with
their voices.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: In the present life men are deterred from blasphemy through
fear of punishment which they think they can escape: whereas, in hell,
the damned have no hope of escape, so that, in despair, they are borne
towards whatever their wicked will suggests to them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Merit and demerit belong to the state of a wayfarer,
wherefore good is meritorious in them, while evil is demeritorious. In
the blessed, on the other hand, good is not meritorious, but is part of
their blissful reward, and, in like manner, in the damned, evil is not
demeritorious, but is part of the punishment of damnation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[13] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Whoever dies in mortal sin, bears with him a will that
detests the Divine justice with regard to a certain thing, and in this
respect there can be blasphemy in him.





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