On the Beatific Vision

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

Mt. 5:8

“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”

Ps. 17:15

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold,”

Job 19:25-27

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Order of Contents

Articles  18+
Book  1
Meditations on  4
Quotes  6
Westminster
Historical Theology  8
Latin  10+

Other Visions of God & Christ in Scripture
Definition of the Beatific Vision
Did Christ Experience the Beatific Vision in his Earthly Life?  No
Saints Enjoy the Beatific Vision before the Final Judgment
The Vision will be Spiritually through Christ our Head
On Perfection & Increase


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Articles

Early Church

Augustine – bk. 22, ch. 29, ‘Of the Beatific Vision’  in The City of God

Augustine raises the question of whether saints in Heaven will see God with their eyes (p. 508, lt col bot), but he leaves the question open.

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Medieval

1100’s

Dionysius Syrus – VI. ‘Blessed are the Pure in Heart’  in Exposition of the Ten Beatitudes  in A Clear & Learned Explication of the History of our Blessed Savior Jesus Christ, Taken out of Above Thirty Greek, Syriac & Other Oriental Authors, by Way of Catena  (Dublin [1695]), pp. 71-73

Dionysius Syrus, or Jacob Bar-Salibi, was an Assyrian, metropolitan bishop and the best-known and most prolific writer in the Syriac Orthodox Church of the twelfth century.

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1200’s

Aquinas, Thomas

The Summa Contra Gentiles, bk. 3, ch. 51, ‘How God may be Seen in his Essence’

Aquinas is not wholly recommended on this subject.  Note that the reformed sometimes allowed for God to be seen in his essence apprehensively, though not comprehensively, per the medieval scholastics.

Summa, pt. 1, question 12, ‘How God is Known by Us (13 Articles)’

On the Books of Sentences

bk. 2, distinction 11, question 2, article 1, ‘Whether the angels progress in the vision of God?’ [No]

bk. 4, distinction 49, question 2, ‘The Vision of God’, article 1, ‘Whether the blessed will see God in His essence?’ [Yes]

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1500’s

Bullinger, Henry – pp. 126-30  of Sermons 3, of Decade 4  in The Decades

Junius, Francis – ch. 7, ‘The Theology of Vision in the Heavens’  in A Treatise on True Theology  trans. David Noe  (RHB, 2014)  The English is parallel to the Latin, side by side.

Willet, Andrew

1st Part, ‘Of the Blessed Estate of the Saints before God in Heaven’  in Synopsis Papismi…  (London, 1592), Controversies on the Church Triumphant, 9th Controversy, ‘Concerning Saints Departed’, 2nd pt., ‘Of the Saints Departed that are in Joy & Bliss’, 1st Question, ‘Concerning the blessed & happy estate of the saints departed’, pp. 320-22

A Sixfold Commentary upon the Two First Books of Moses, being Genesis & Exodus  (d. 1621; London, 1633), on Ex. 33, Questions Discussed, pp. 652-68

34. ‘Whether Moses desired to see the very divine nature and essence of God?’
35. ‘What emboldened Moses to make this request?’
36. ‘Whether Moses showed any infirmity in this request, to see God’s glory?’
37. ‘What the Lord means by ‘All my good’.
38. ‘How the Lord is said to pass by, and why.’
39. ‘How the Lord is said to proclaim his name.’
40. ‘Why these words are added, ‘I will show mercy, etc.’
41. ‘Why the word [‘mercy’] is here doubled.’
42. ‘Of the diverse kinds of mercy which the Lord shows’
43. ‘Of the diverse kinds of visions and sights of God’
44. ‘Whether God may be seen with the eyes of the body in this life?’
45. ‘Whether we shall see the divine nature with the eyes of our bodies in the next life?’
46. ‘Whether the divine essence can be seen and comprehended by the mind of man in this life?’
47. ‘Whether the angels now, or the souls of men shall fully see the divine substance in the next life?’
48. ‘Whether Moses here had a sight of the divine essence?’
49. ‘Of the meaning of these words, ‘No man shall see Me and live.’’

51. ‘How the Lord is said to cover Moses with his hand’
52. ‘Why the Lord covered Moses with his hand’
53. ‘Why the Lord put Moses in the cleft of the rock’
54. ‘What manner of visible demonstration this was here showed unto Moses’

6. Moral Observations, 5.‘Against the Fear of Death’

Zanchi, Jerome – IV. ‘How Happy that Eternal Life shall be, it can Neither be Said, Nor Thought’  in H. Zanchius his Confession of Christian Religion…  (Cambridge, 1599), ch. 30, ‘Of Eternal Life’, pp. 271-2

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1600’s

Bucanus, William – Institutions of Christian Religion...  (London, 1610), ch. 39, ‘Of Eternal Life’

‘What is the Object of Eternal Life’, pp. 486-7

‘But do not we Enjoy God already & See Him in this Earth?’, pp. 487-88

* Walaeus, Anthony – Synopsis of a Purer Theology…  (1625; Brill, 2020)

sections 17-18  of Disputation 40, ‘On the Church’  in vol. 2, pp. 565-7

sections 1-27  of Disputation 52, ‘On Life & Death Everlasting & on the End of the World’  in vol. 3, pp. 582-99

This is one of the fullest discussions in English.

Sibbes, Richard – ‘A Breathing After God’  on Ps. 27:4  in Works  (d. 1635), vol. 2, pp. 209-48

Davenant, John – An Exposition of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians, vol. 1  ed. Josiah Allport  (d. 1641)

on Col. 1:15, pp. 183-4

on Col. 2:10, p. 430-1

Davenant’s statement with reference to the angels that ‘grace is bestowed on no creature except through the Mediation of Christ’ is wrong.

Burroughs, Jeremiah

The Saints’ Happiness…  Delivered in Diverse Lectures on the Beatitudes...  (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1867)  in Nichol’s Series of Commentaries: Burroughs on the Beatitudes & Rogers on Isa. 5:1-7

pp. 160-62  of Sermon 25, ‘Wherein a Pure Heart is Blessed’ on Mt. 5:8

Sermon 26, ‘The Uncleanness of Heart: Cause of Error’, pp. 162-8  on Mt. 5:8

Moses his Choice with his Eye Fixed upon Heaven…  (London, 1650), pp. 535-85

Ch. 45, ‘The Saints Enjoyment of God to be their Portion, their Happiness in Having his Presence’

Burroughs was an English, Independent puritan minister.

Ch. 46, ‘The Happiness of the Beatifical Vision Discovered’

Ch. 47, ‘The Blessedness of Union with God’

Ch. 48, ‘The Blessedness of Communion with God’

Ch. 49, ‘The Happiness of the Saints in their Fruition of God, & their Perfect Rest in Him’

Ch. 50, ‘The Saints Happiness in Communion with Christ’

Leigh, Edward – pp. 868-71  of bk. 10, ch. 4, ‘Of Everlasting Life’  in A System or Body of Divinity…  (London, 1654)

Leigh was an English layman and a Westminster divine.

Harris, Robert – ‘For they shall see God’  in 16th Sermon, ”For they shall see God’; Doctrine: Man’s Blessedness Consists in the Sight of God’  in The Way to True Happiness, delivered in 24 Sermons on Mt. 5:1-12  in Works  (1654), pp. 212-18

Harris was a Westminster divine.

* Norton, John – ch. 15, ‘Of the State of the Blessed…’, pp. 327-337  in The Orthodox Evangelist…  (1654; 1657)

Norton (1606-1663) was a New England puritan divine.  This is one of the fuller discussions in English.

Spurstowe, William – Death & the Grave No Bar to Believers’ Happiness, or, A Sermon Preached at the Funeral of…  Buy  (1656)  50 pp.  on Ps. 17:15

Spurstowe (c. 1605–1666) was a English presbyterian and Westminster divine.

* Hoornbeek, Johannes – ch. 13, sections 19-20  in Institutes of Theology, Arranged from the Most Fitting Authors  (1658)  tr. Charles Johnson.  Quotes by Bucanus, Walaeus & Maccovius are provided.

Hoornbeek was a Dutch, reformed theologian.

* Strong, William – bk. 3, ch. 3, ‘The Beatific Vision of God’s Essence Explicated & Applied’  ToC  in A Discourse of the Two Covenants…  (London, 1678), pp. 283-301

Strong (d. 1654) was an English, Independent divine.

* Watson, Thomas – ch. 17, ‘The Blessed Privilege of Seeing God Explained’  on Mt. 5:8  in The Beatitudes: or a Discourse upon Part of Christ’s Famous Sermon on the Mount…  (London, 1660), pp. 258-68

Watson was an English presbyterian and puritan.

* Ambrose, Isaac

section 10, ‘Of Christ’s…  being All in All to his Blessed, Saved, Redeemed Saints, to All Eternity’  in Looking unto Jesus, as Carrying on the Great Work of Man’s Salvation, or a View of the Everlasting Gospel…  (London, 1680), pp. 609-15

Ambrose (1604-1664) was an English puritan divine.  He was one of the king’s four preachers in Lancashire in 1631.  He was twice imprisoned by commissioners of array.  He worked for the establishment of Presbyterianism and was ejected for nonconformity in 1662.

Ambrose’s emphasis is on the sight of the glorified Christ in Heaven.  He lists out four different views of how this relates to the vision of God on p. 612, but neither takes a position, nor discusses it further.

‘thou shalt be with Me’ & ‘in paradise’, pp. 212-22  in Heaven’s Happiness  on Lk. 23:43  in Ultima, = the Last Things…  (London, 1650)

Owen, John – Works  (d. 1683), vol. 1

pp. 239-40 (1.)  in ch. 19, ‘The Exaltation of Christ…’  in Christologia

Owen was an English, Congregationalist puritan.  He significantly reformulated what the beatific vision is from the traditional view (such as in the Synopsis, Norton & Turretin, etc.), holding that the beatific vision is both an intellectual and physical sight of the exalted, human and divine Person of Christ, through which the deity is revealed.  For a more detailed and careful description of Owen’s view, see p. 79 of Farris & Brandt, ‘Ensouling the Beatific Vision’.  Owen’s view is not recommended.

Meditations & Discourses on the Glory of Christ

Ch. 1, ‘The Explication of the Text’, pp. 292-3 (4.)

Ch. 7, ‘The Glory of Christ in his Exaltation, after the accomplishment of the Work of Mediation in this World’, pp. 342-8

Ch. 12, ‘Differences between our beholding the glory of Christ by faith in this world and by sight in Heaven—the first of them explained’

Ch. 13, ‘The second difference…’

Ch. 14, ‘Other differences…’

* Bates, William – ‘On Heaven’  in The Four Last Things  in Works  (London: James Black, 1815), vol. 3

pp. 373-4, ‘The enjoyment of the divine presence in heaven is the supreme felicity of the saints’  in ch. 1

pp. 377-8, ‘The supreme happiness of man is in the soul’s communion with God’  in ch. 2

ch. 3 (whole), pp. 378-83

ch. 4 (whole), pp. 384-88

ch. 5 (whole), pp. 389-95

pp. 400-3, III. ‘The fulness of joy in heaven is everlasting, without defect and without end’  in ch. 6  Bates excellently answers the objection that an unchanging good would be boring and wearisome.

pp.  in ch. 8

* Turretin, Francis – Question 8, ‘Will Eternal Life Consist in the Vision of God or in the Love & Enjoyment of Him? [Both]  And Under What Symbols is it Usually Described & Why?’  in Institutes  (P&R), 20th Topic, ‘The Last Things’, vol. 3, pp. 608-17

van Mastricht, Peter – Theoretical Practical Theology  (RHB)

vol. 2, bk. 2, ch. 3, sections 3-6, ‘That the Essence of God is Imperceptible’, pp. 75-77   This is on the incomprehensibility of God.

van Mastricht was a Dutch, reformed theologian.

vol. 4, bk. 5

ch. 12, ‘Death of the Mediator’, section 20, ‘Did Christ suffer in his soul?’ [Yes]

ch. 13, ‘Descent of the Mediator’, Exegetical, B.2.a

Heidegger, Johann H. – sections 21-26  of Locus 28, ‘On Glorification’  in The Concise Marrow of Theology  tr. Casey Carmichael  (RHB, 2019)

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1700’s

Boston, Thomas – Works, vol. 10, pp. 99-120

Sermon 8, ‘The Distinguishing Privilege of God’s Faithful Servants’  on Ex. 24:11

Serrmon 9, ‘Gospel Privileges Wonders of Grace’  on Ex. 24:11

Edwards, Jonathan

‘The Pure in Heart Blessed’  on Mt. 5:8  being Sermon 9  in Seventeen Occasional Sermons  in his 2 vol. Works, vol. 2, pp. 905-913

‘Serving God in Heaven’  (1730)  in Sermons & Discourses, 1730-1733  WJE Online, vol. 17

Hawker, Robert – ‘His Servants Shall Serve Him’  on Rev. 22:3-4  August 25th, Morning

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1800’s

Spurgeon, Charles

‘The Hope of Future Bliss’  on Ps. 17:15  (May 20, 1855)

‘The Beatific Vision’  on 1 Jn. 3:2  (Jan. 20, 1856)  in New Park Street Pulpit, vol. 2

‘The Sixth Beatitude’  on Mt. 5:8  (April 27, 1873)

‘The Throne of God & of the Lamb’  #1576, MTP 27.13-24

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2000’s

Jones, Mark – ‘Pictures of Christ & the Beatific Vision’  (2015)

This is good.

Mathis, David – ‘We Will See His Face.  What Is the Beatific Vision?’  at Desiring God

This is a good introductory article and overview, though he takes the view of Owen and others, that the beatific vision is simply seeing Jesus, which view is not recommended.

Strobel, Kyle – ‘A Spiritual Sight of Love: Constructing a Doctrine of the Beatific Vision’  (n.d.)  30 paragraphs

Strobel is an assistant professor of Spiritual Theology and Formation at the Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.and an author of a number of works on Jonathan Edwards.

“The goal of this article is to provide an introduction to the doctrine of the beatific vision…  we start with some general reflections on the biblical material, and move from that into a broad overview of some of the key theological trajectories in the tradition, with particular focus on the Reformed tradition…”

Strobel interacts with Aquinas, Scotus, Owen, Turretin and Edwards.

Feser, Edward – ‘David Bentley Hart’s Post-Christian Pantheism’  (2022)  at Public Discourse

Feser is a Romanist, Analytical Thomist philosopher who here very ably and helpfully, concisely, summarizes numerous aspects of the Thomist understanding of the beatific vision.

This article is generally excellent.  The only point that differs from the dominant view of reformed orthodoxy is Feser’s Romanist view of beatific vision involving knowing God directly.  While the reformed affirmed this in a Scriptural sense, as to the mode of revelation being apart from means, yet the Romanists tended to mean by it something more than that, that is, knowing God’s essence in itself, which seems to go beyond the creature / Creator distinction.


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Book

Howe, John – The Blessedness of the Righteous  on Ps. 17:15  in The Works of John Howe, M.A….  (London: Religious Tract Society, 1862), vol. 1, pp. 1-378  ToC


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Meditations on the Beatific Vision

Articles

1600’s

Gerhard, Johann – Meditation 47, ‘Of the Beatifical Vision of God, in Heaven’  in Gerard’s Meditations…  trans. Ralph Winterton  (Cambridge, 1638), pp. 290-5

Gerhard (1582-1637) was a Lutheran, scholastic, theologian.

Welles, John – ‘A Sweet Contemplation of the Beatifical Joys of Heaven & Heavenly Things: & the Blessed State of a Regenerate Christian’  in The Soul’s Progress to the Celestial Canaan, or Heavenly Jerusalem, by Way of Godly Meditation…  (London, 1639), pp. 363-71

Welles of Beccles was an Englishman.

Baxter, Richard – Section XI  in ch. 11, ‘Some Advantages & Helps for Raising & Affecting the Soul by this Meditation’  in pt. 4 of The Saints’ Everlasting Rest…  (London, 1650), pp. 773-5

Troughton, William – II. ‘A Meditation of the Beatifical Vision of God’  on Ps. 45:15  in The Mystery of the Marriage Song & Mutual Spiritual Embraces Between Christ & his Spouse Opened, in an Exposition with Practical Notes & Observations on the Whole Forty-Fifth Psalm  (London, 1656), pp. 237-41

Troughton (1614?–1677?) was an English, non-conformist minister who was likely ejected in 1662.

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1700’s

Beveridge, William – ‘Thoughts upon the Appearance of Christ the Sun of Righteousness, or the Beatific Vision’  in Private Thoughts, in Two Parts Complete…  (Derby, 1817), pp. 321-24

Beveridge was a Calvinistic Anglican.


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Quotes

1600’s

Lucas Trelcatius

A Brief Institution of the Common Places of Sacred Divinity…  (London, 1610), bk. 3, ch. 8, ‘Of Man’s Estate After this Life’

The Part Confirming, pp. 589-90

“Life Eternal is the life of glory, wherein the soul, joined to our body, enjoys God forever, being advanced to the highest top and height of her felicity.

The Cause of this life is God, to wit, the Father the efficient, the Son the meritorious, and the Holy Ghost the sealing and applying cause.

The Matter, which has the respect of the subject, are those good things, which neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor can the mind of man comprehend.

That which is of the Object, are all the blessed and elect.

The Form is the most perfect knowledge, vision, and fruition of God Himself, and the exceeding felicity & blessedness of man, which accompanies the same, which also consists both in the separation, and absence of all evil things, and in the participation, and presence of all good things; both are both perfect and eternal.

The End is the glory of God’s grace, and the glorifying of the elect.”

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The Part Confuting, of Life Eternal, pp. 594-5

“I.  There are three kinds or differences of life: there is a life of nature, which the apostle calls Natural.  There is a life of Grace, which the sons of God alone do enjoy in this world: there is a life of Glory, which consists in the vision of God.

II.  Life eternal is two ways taken: Metonymically, both for the way to life, and for Christ Himself: Properly, for the state of the blessed after this life.

III.  There is one vision of God natural, in the things created; another specular, or symbolical, by resemblances and signs; another of faith, by the doctrine and doings of Christ; another of present sight, or of glory to come, when we shall see God face to face.”

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Johannes Polyander

Disputation 1, ‘On Sacrosanct Theology’  in A  Synopsis of Pure Theology  (1625)  tr. Charles Johnson

“4.  If indeed theology is considered as it is knowledge endowed by God upon creatures, either communicated in this age or to be communicated in the future age, that theology is ectypal.  And this theology is fashioned by God alone from the archetype, as it were, through various ways and degrees of communication; for men turning to and fro in this world, through the grace of revelation; for angels rather, and for blessed spirits in heaven, it is received through the grace of vision, by benefit of which we also, after this life, face to face; that is, before him and closely, shall contemplate him as he is, 1 Jn. 3:2.”

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Johannes Wolleb

Abridgment of Christian Divinity  (London, 1626), bk. 1, ch. 36, ‘Of the End of the World…’, pp. 305-8

“Life eternal is the highest degree of blessedness, in which we shall be made partakers of Christ’s glory, enjoying the sight of God, and heavenly joys forever and ever.

The Rules:


III.  That eternal happiness consists in our freedom from all evil; in the variety, magnitude and eternity of joys…

IV.  The variety of joys, is considered in the glorification of man, in the delights of heavenly mansions, in the blessed society of the saints, but chiefly in the union with God…

II.  There shall be such a communion with God, that we shall see Him without end, love Him without tediousness, and praise Him without wearisomeness…

XII.  So great shall be that joy, that neither our tongues can express it, nor our minds conceive it…

XIII.  Neither shall any bounds be set to this happiness, nor shall we ever fall from it, but it shall continue forever…”

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William Ames

The Marrow of Theology  trans. John D. Eusden  (1623; Baker, 1997), bk. 1, ch. 41, ‘The End of the World’, p. 214

“7. Because the state of the church then will be one of perfection and not of edification, the ministry, sacraments, and discipline together with the instituted churches themselves will cease, and the mystical church will remain in immediate communion with God.”

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Leonard Rissen

A Complete Summary of Elenctic Theology & of as Much Didactic Theology as is Necessary  trans. J. Wesley White  MTh thesis  (Bern, 1676; GPTS, 2009), ch. 18, ‘Last Things’, p. 253

“§VIII.  The blessedness of heaven consists in the glorification of soul and body. This glorification consists in a perfect vision and love of God and a rejoicing in God who communicates Himself in the most perfect mode of communication to His creatures.”

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1800’s

Geerhardus Vos

Reformed Dogmatics  trans. Richard B. Gaffin  1 vol. ed.  (Lexham Press, 2020), Ecclesiology, the Means of Grace, Eschatology, pt. 3, Eschatology, ch. 7, ‘General Eschatology’, pp. 1153-4

“38. Can we say very much about heaven and the blessings of heaven?  No, for this far surpasses our understanding.  We know only:


b)  The enjoyment of heaven is in the first place the enjoyment of God, the visio Dei, a ‘beholding of God.’  This is not to be understood one-sidedly in an intellectualistic manner but in all its magnitude.  The nearness of God will affect every capacity of man, and every capacity will react to it.  Theologians usually speak of visio [seeing], amor [love], gaudium [joy], gloria [glory]; others of knowing, serving, enjoying and glorifying God (cf. 1 Cor. 13:9-13).

It has been asked whether this will be a seeing with physical eyes.  This is not to be assumed.  God is not visible to the senses.  The Mediator certainly is.  No one has ever seen God.  This seeing follows on faith.  It is thus something that is comparable with faith but that still does not necessarily need to be a perceiving with the senses.  There will thus be a perception of God, yet such that it is not a material entity that appears to us.

c)  The enjoyment of heaven in fellowship with God is eternal life in all its fullness.”


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Westminster

Westminster Confession

Ch. 32, ‘Of the State of Men after Death, & of the Resurrection of the Dead’

“I. The bodies of men after death…   but their souls, (which neither die nor sleep) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them.[b]  The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies;[c]

b] Luke 23:43Eccl. 12:7.
[c] Heb. 12:232 Cor. 5:1,6,8Phil. 1:23 with Acts 3:21 and Eph. 4:10

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Ch. 33, ‘Of the Last Judgment’

“II.  The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy in the eternal salvation of the elect…  For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and refreshing which shall come from the presence of the Lord;”

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Larger Catechism

“Q. 86. What is the communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death?

A. The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness,[l] and received into the highest heavens,[m] where they behold the face of God in light and glory,[n] waiting for the full redemption of their bodies,[o]…

[l] Heb. 12:23
[m] 2 Cor. 5:1,6,8Phil. 1:23 compared with Acts 3:21 and with Eph. 4:10
[n] 1 John 3:21 Cor. 13:12
[o] Rom. 8:23Ps. 16:9

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“Q. 90. What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?

A. At the day of judgment, the righteous…  shall be received into heaven,[h]…  filled with inconceivable joys,[k] made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels,[l] but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity.[m]  And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.

[h] Matt. 25:34,46
[k] Ps. 16:11
[l] Heb. 12:22,23
[m] 1 John 3:21 Cor. 13:121 Thess. 4:17,18


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Historical Theology

On the Whole of Church History

Books

Kirk, Kenneth E. – The Vision of God: the Christian Doctrine of the Summum Bonum; the Bapton Lectures for 1928  (Longmans Green, 1934)  ToC  225pp.

This is mainly, in 8 lectures, a survey of the doctrine from the Old Testament to the early 1900’s.

Boersma, Hans – Seeing God: the Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition  Pre  (Eerdmans, 2018)

Boersma (b. 1961) has been identified as a Dutch-Canadian reformed theologian, but has also since been a professor in ascetical theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary of the Anglo-Catholic tradition.  His own personal understanding of the beatific vision is seriously off in numerous respects, as may be seen in the abstract of his article, ‘The Beatific Vision: Contemplating Christ as the Future Present’.

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On the Early Church

Article

Boersma, Hans – ‘Becoming Human in the Face of God: Gregory of Nyssa’s Unending Search for the Beatific Vision’  International Journal of Systematic Theology, vol. 17, no. 2 (April 2015)

This covers similar material as ch. 3 of Boersma’s book; he cites Nyssen’s sixth homily on the beatitudes, his commentary on the life of moses and his homilies on the Song of Songs.

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On the Early & Medieval Church

Article

Ingham, Mary Beth & Mechthild Dreyer – pp. 30-32  of The Philosophical Vision of John Duns Scotus: an Introduction  Pre  (Catholic Univ. of America Press, 2004)

Scotus denied the need for a special ‘light of glory’, which Albert the Great and Aquinas had stressed the need for.

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Books

Kitanov, Severin Valentinov – Beatific Enjoyment in Medieval Scholastic Debates: The Complex Legacy of Saint Augustine & Peter Lombard  Pre  Buy  (Lexington Books, 2014)  307 pp.

See a review of this book by Kyle Strobel.

Blankenhorn, Bernard – The Mystery of Union with God: Dionysian Mysticism in Albert the Great & Thomas Aquinas  Pre  (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2015)

“In the thirteenth century the issue [of whether the saints will see the divine essence directly or only a certain radiance or image of it] resurfaced in the midst of wider disputes over the legacy of the Irish Neo-Platonic theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena.  In 1241 and again in 1244 the doctrine of a mediate vision of the divine essence was condemned.  In the wake of these condemnations Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas developed a sophisticated account of immediate vision taking place both by the essence of God directly informing the human soul and by the mediation of a created ‘light of glory’…” – Synopsis of a Purer Theology, 3.591 fn.

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On Aquinas

Article

Darley, Alan – ‘The Epistemological Hope: Aquinas Versus other Receptions of Pseudo-Dionysius on the Beatific Vision’  Heythrop Journal 59 (4) (2018), pp. 663-88

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Books

Krause, Katja – Thomas Aquinas on Seeing God. The Beatific Vision in his Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences  Ref  (Marquette Univ. Press, 2020)

“Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences is, alas, rarely read.  Thanks to Krause’s English translation of the gigantic q. 2 of book 4, distinction 49 (on the beatific vision), however, Aquinas’s early thought on this important theological and philosophical puzzle is now accessible to a wider readership.”

“Krause shows in detail how resourcefully the young Aquinas developed his understanding of the beatific vision, on the shoulders of giants: his teacher Albert the Great, as well as Aristotle, Avicenna, and Averroes on the one hand, Augustine and pseudo-Dionysius on the other.”

Feingold, Lawrence – The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas Aquinas & His Interpreters  Ref  (Sapientia Press of Ave Marie Univ., 2010)  490 pp.

“What kind of natural desire is this?  How can there be a natural desire for what can only be supernaturally obtained?  How can such a desire be reconciled with the gratuitousness of grace and glory?…

This work seeks to determine the nature of this desire and its relationship with the supernatural order through an examination of the thought of St. Thomas and some of his most prominent interpreters, including Scotus, Cajetan, Suárez, and Henri de Lubac.”

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On the Medieval Church

Bugnolo, Alexis F. – The Beatific Vision of Christ according to the Doctrine of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, handed down in his Commentaria in Quatuor Libros Sententiarum  (2013)  This was a paper for a Romanist seminary.

Abstract: “Bonaventure situates his teaching on the Beatific Vision enjoyed by Christ squarely at the center of his Christology, to affirm the unity and harmony of the authority of the Eternal Word and of Christ the Man.”

Cross, Richard – ‘Scholastic Debates on Beatific Union with God: Henry of Ghent (c.1217-1293) & his Interlocutors’  in Traditio

“Uniquely among the thirteenth-century Scholastic theologians, Henry of Ghent (c.1217–1293) gives an account of beatific union with God according to which it consists not simply in God’s being the object of a creature’s acts of cognition and/or volition, but in God’s fully interpenetrating the creature in such a way that the creature becomes in some sense identical with God.

This article places Henry’s view in its immediate theological context, and outlines the two most important immediate reactions to it – including its influence, hitherto unnoticed, on Meister Eckhart’s account of mystical union.  In so doing, it highlights a continuity between Scholastic and non-Scholastic theology in the Middle Ages.”

Gereby, Gyorgy – ’A Supremely Idle Question: Issues of the Beatific Vision Debate between 1331-1336’  (2018)

Abstract:  “The beatific vision debate (1331–1336) presents two problems. First, what could have been the motivation of Pope John XXII for raising the issue?  Second, why was his proposed theology of the delayed vision [till after the Final Judgment] rejected nearly unanimously?  This paper, after a summary of the debate, tries to answer these two questions.  It appears that the Pope initiated the controversy in the name of a conservative theology reaching back past High Scholasticism to Patristic authors….”

Duba, William – ‘The Beatific Vision in the Sentences Commentary of Gerald Odonis’  Vivarium 47 (2009), pp. 348-63

Odonis (1285–1349) was a French theologian and Minister General of the Romanist, Franciscan Order.

“The most studied source for Gerald Odonis’ doctrine of the beatific vision is the text of his Advent 1333 disputed question known as his
Quodlibet.  The polemic nature of the question and its structural idiosyncrasies have led to difficulties in interpreting Odonis’ theory of the ‘middle vision’ of the divine essence that the separate souls of the blessed have, as well as in understanding his defense of Pope John XXII’s controversial opinion [that saints do not enjoy the complete Beatific Vision till after the Final Judgment] (which excludes such a middle vision).  By relating Odonis’ 1333 disputation to his earlier commentary on the Sentences…  this paper shows how Odonis tried to fit his doctrine of the ‘middle vision’ with his previous discussion…”

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On the Post-Reformation

Articles

Muller, Richard

Dictionary of Latin & Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology  1st ed.  (Baker, 1985)

‘beati’ & ‘beatitudo’, p. 57

‘theologia beatorum’, p. 300

‘visio Dei’, p. 327

pp. 256-60  in pt. 2, ch. 5.5, ‘Theology as Communicated to Human Beings’  in PRRD, vol. 1

Heppe, Heinrich – section 22  of ch. 28, ‘Glorification’  in Reformed Dogmatics  ed. Bizer  tr. Thomson  (1950; Wipf & Stock, 2007), pp. 706-7

Heppe quotes Bucan, Walaeus & Alting.

Schendel, Joshua – ‘The Reformed Orthodox & the Visio Dei‘  in The Reformed Theological Review  77.1  (2018), pp. 24-44  Abstract

Abstract:  “Some recent scholarship has claimed that the doctrine of the beatific vision of God remained at the periphery of reformed orthodox thought and even there was somewhat dogmatically haphazard.  This essay challenges this claim arguing that the doctrine of the visio Dei was pervasive in reformed orthodox theology, both in its pastoral and dogmatic expressions.”

Boersma, Hans – ch. 11, ‘Christ & Vision: Puritan & Dutch Reformed Articulations of the Beatific Vision’  in Seeing God: the Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition  Pre  (Eerdmans, 2018), pp. 315-54  This surveys Ambrose, Owen, Baxter, Watson and Kuyper.

Lee, Seung-Joo – ‘Beatific Vision & Moral Perfection: Basic Categories in Reformed Scholastic Ethics’  (2021)

Lee survey’s Francis Junius’s teaching.  He cites Junius, De libero hominis arbitrio, ante & post lapsum, theses 33-34 & 38 (only the latter thesis expressly deals with the vision of God).

Mosser, Carl – ‘Recovering the Reformation’s Ecumenical Vision of Redemption as Deification & Beatific Vision’  Perichoresis, vol. 18.1 (2020), pp. 3–24

Mosser has served as a professor of Christian theology at Gateway Seminary and as a visiting research professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Mosser surveys Zwingli, Bucer, Bullinger and Calvin on the doctrine.  Mosser seeks to show that these reformers appropriated the term and concept of ‘deification’, albeit in a sense consistent with their protestant theology.

For more on that, see Mosser’s article: ‘Deification: a Truly Ecumenical Concept’.

Farris, Joshua & Ryan A. Brandt – ‘Ensouling the Beatific Vision: Motivating the Reformed Impulse’  18 pp.  This article interacts with Calvin, Owen and Edwards.

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On John Owen Specifically

Articles

McDonald, Suzanne – ‘Beholding the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ: John Owen & the ‘Reforming’ of the Beatific Vision’  in eds. Kelly M. Kapic & Mark Jones, The Ashgate Research Companion to John Owen’s Theology  Pre  (Routledge, 2016), pp. 141-58

Gaine, Simon Francis – ‘Thomas Aquinas & John Owen on the Beatific Vision: a Reply to Suzanne McDonald’  Abstract  in New Black Friars, vol. 97, issue 1070 (July 2016), pp. 432-46

Abstract:  “Suzanne McDonald has argued that…  Owen surpassed Aquinas’s doctrine [of the beatific vision]…  theologically speaking, and which exposes the deficiency of Aquinas’s account.  Owen achieved this particular…  ‘re-forming’ of Aquinas’s doctrine, she argues, by way of a ‘Christological re-orientation of the doctrine’ in terms of what is seen in the beatific vision and how it is seen, that is, its content and means.  This article replies to McDonald from a Catholic and Thomist perspective…  offering several suggestions as to why one might want to prefer Aquinas’s account over Owen’s.”

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1700’s

Boersma, Hans – ‘The ‘Grand Medium’: An Edwardsean Modification of Thomas Aquinas on the Beatific Vision’  Modern Theology 33 (2017), pp.187–212

Strobel, Kyle – ‘Jonathan Edwards’ Reformed Doctrine of the Beatific Vision’

Strobel is an assistant professor of Spiritual Theology and Formation at the Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.and an author of a number of works on Jonathan Edwards.

Haykin, Michael A.G. & E.D. Burns – ‘Blessed are the Dead Which Die in the Lord’: Andrew Fuller on the Beatific Vision’  Perichoresis, vol. 17.2 (2019), pp. 4150

While Fuller, the Calvinistic baptist, speaks of the rest and rewards of heaven in the funeral sermon examined, there is little if any explicit mention of the beatific vision directly.

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On the 1800’s – 1900’s

Brock, Cory C. – ‘Revisiting Bavinck & the Beatific Vision’  in JBTS 6.2 (2021), pp. 367-82

Brock critiques Boersma’s interpretation of Bavinck in his book, Seeing God…  at length.

Boersma, Hans

‘Neo-Calvinism & the Beatific Vision: Eschatology in the Reformed Tradition’  Crux 56/3 (2020), pp. 25–29  Boersma surveys Bavinck and Kuyper amongst others.

‘Blessing & Glory: Abraham Kuyper on the Beatific Vision’  Calvin Theological Journal 52.2 (2017), pp. 205–41


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Latin Articles

1500’s

Banez, Domingo – A Scholastic Commentary on the First Part of Thomas…  Tome 1  (Salamanca: Gastius, 1584), pt. 1

cols. 47-58  on question 1, article 2, ‘Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Science?’

Banez (1528-1604) was a Romanist, Spanish Dominican.

Question 12, ‘In what way is God ascertained [cognoscatur] by us?’

article 1, ‘Whether a created intellect is able to see God, per the essence?’, cols. 476-92

article 2, ‘Whether the essence of God may be seen by a created intellect through a certain similitude?’, cols. 492-511

article 3, ‘Whether the divine essence is able to be seen by coporal eyes?’, cols. 511-12

article 4, ‘Whether some intellect is able to see the divine essence by its nature?’, cols. 512-15

article 5, ‘Whether the created intellect may need some created light to see the essence of God?’, cols. 516-31

etc.

Zanchi, Jerome – A Compendium of Principal Chapters of Christian Religion  in The Theological Works…  (Geneva: Crispin, 1619)

cols. 627-31  of Locus 1, ‘On God’

Zanchi says that there are three spectacles through which God may be known: 1. creatures, 2. Scripture, 3. Christ.

cols. 724-5  of Locus 8, ‘On the Apostolic Creed’

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1600’s

Junius, Francis

thesis 38  of Theologial Theses on the Free Choice of Man, Before & After the Fall  (Heidelberg, 1592)

Animadversions on Controversy 7 of Robert Bellarmine…  on the Church Triumphing, or on the Glory & Worship of Saints  (d. 1602; 1609)

on ch. 1, sections 2-3, cols. 1587-88

on ch. 3, section 1, col. 1592

Polanus, Amandus – A System of Christian Theology  (Hanau, 1610), bk. 1

ch. 6, ‘On the Blessedness of Rational Creatures’, cols. 52-62  See specifically cols. 54-9, ’On the Vision of God’.

ch. 8, ‘Of the Theology of the Blessed’, cols. 63-7

Alsted, Johann H. – ch. 7, ‘Of the Theology of Vision in Heaven’  in bk. 1 of Two Books of the Precognitions of Theology Explained & the Rule of its Study Fully Shown  (Prostat, 1614), pp. 27-40

Hommius, Festus – Disputation 34, sections 1-4  in 70 Theological Disputations Against the Papists…  (Leiden, 1614), pp. 204-6

Pareus, David – Disputation 18, section 1  in Collection 9, 40 Disputations on the Controversies of the Jesuit Cardinal, Robert Bellarmine  in Theological Collections of Universal Orthodox Theology…  vol. 2  (1620), pp. 482-3

Chamier, Daniel – bk. 25, ‘On the Effects of the Reparation’  in Panstratiae Catholicae, or a Body of the Controversies of Religion Against the Papists  (Geneva, 1626), vol. 3, pp. 1107-10

ch. 1,‘Of Eternal Blessedness, the [Reformed] catholic Judgment’

ch. 2,‘The Calumny of the Papists on the Blessedness of the Saints’

Smising, Theodore – Tract 2, Disputation 6, ‘On the Invisibility of God’,   in Tome 1 of Theological Disputations on the One God…  (Antwerp, 1627), vol. 1, pp. 163-293  9 questions  Most of the questions concern the vision of God.

Smising (1580-1626) was a Romanist, Franciscan who was cited by the puritan John Norton.  Smising in this volume explains and defends the positions of John Duns Scotus.

Forbes, Patrick – ‘A Dissertation on the Beatific Vision’  in Funerals of a Right Reverend Father in God, Patrick Forbes of Corse, Bishop of Aberdeen…  (Aberdeen, 1631), pp. 297-325

Walaeus, Anthony – pp. 522-27  in ‘Of Eternal Life & the Consumation of the World’  in Common Places of Sacred Theology  in All the Works  (Leiden, Hackius, 1643), vol. 1

Walaeus, amongst other things, refutes the arguments of the Anthropomorphites, the Arminian Conrad Vorstius and some Lutherans, such as David Chytraeus, that the saints in Heaven will see God with their eyes.

Gomarus, Francis – sections 46-60 & Corollaries  in Disputation 1, ‘On Theology’  in Disptuations of Theology held in Various Academies  [separately paginated], p. 3  in Works, pt. 3  in All the Theological Works, the Greater Part Posthunous  (Amsterdam, 1644)

Voet, Gisbert – Select Theological Disputations, vol. 2  (Utrecht, 1648-1667)

73. ‘An Exercitation on Thomas’sSumma, Pt. 1, Question 12, Article 1, ‘Of the Vision of God, According to the Essence, pt. 1’  (1641), pp. 1193-2103

74. ‘Of the Same, pt. 2’ pp. 1203-17

75. ‘An Exercitation on Thomas’sSumma, pt. 2 of pt. 1, Question 3, Article 4, ‘Of the Subject & Formal Act of Blessedness, pt. 2’  (1653), pp. 1217-28

76. ‘Of the Same, pt. 2’, pp. 1228-39

Hoornbeek, Johannes – 20, ‘Yet the Blessedness of Heaven has been Fixed in the Fruition, or Vision, of Divine Glory’  in Theological Institutions Harmonized out of the Best Authors  (Leiden, 1658), pp. 703-8

Hoornbeek provides excerpts from Waleus and Maccovius.

Heidegger, Johann H. – sections 126-49  of Locus 28, ‘On Glorification’  in A Body of Christian Theology…  (Zurich, 1732), vol. 2, pp. 770-81

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1700’s

Vitringa, Sr., Campegius – ‘Of the Vision of God’  in ch. 18, pp. 18-25  in The Doctrine of the Christian Religion, Summarily Described through Aphorisms, vol. 4  (d. 1722)


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On Other Visions of God & Christ in Scripture

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On Other Visions of God in Scripture

See also the material above by Willet on Exodus 33.

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Latin Articles

Fabricius, Johann Ludwig – A Disquisition on the Symbolic Vision of God  (Heidelberg, 1661)  24 pp.

Fabricius (1632-1697) was a reformed professor of systematics and Old & New Testament at Heidelberg.

Driessen, Antonius – A Theological Dissertation on the Vision of Abraham, Gen. 15, on the Apparition made to Hagar, Gen. 16, on the Apparition made to Abraham, Gen. 17, on God-Triune Appearing to Abraham, Gen. 18 & 19, on the Apparition of God Triune at the Baptism of Christ, Mt. 3, on the Apparition made to Hagar, Gen. 21, on the Apparition made to Abraham, Gen. 21, on the Response of Jehovah given to Rebecca, Gen. 25, on Jehovah Appearing to Isaac, Gen. 26, on God Appearing to Jacob & Wrestling with Him, Gen. 32  (Groningen, 1736)  The pages are numbered 115-161  no ToC

Driessen (1684-1748) was a reformed professor of theology at Groningen, Netherlands.


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A Definition of the Beatific Vision

Quote

Francis Junius

A Treatise on True Theology  trans. David Noe  (RHB, 2014), ch. 7, ‘The Theology of Vision in the Heavens’, p. 132

“The theology of the blessed or the exalted theology is the wisdom of divine matters communicated in the Spirit of God according to the measure of Christ with those who dwell in heaven; according to this theology they enjoy the eternal, gracious, and glorious vision of God for His glory.”

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On Visions of Christ in Scripture

Latin Article

Zanchi, Jerome – A Response to Part of the Wind of Wilhelm Holder, in which it is Mildly Disputed on the Visions in which Christ after the Ascension Appeared in his True Body to Stephan & Paul…  (Neustadt, 1586)  22 pp.


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Did Christ Experience the Beatific Vision in his Earthly Life?  No

Quote

Francis Junius

A Treatise on True Theology  trans. David Noe  (RHB, 2014), ch. 7, ‘The Theology of Vision in the Heavens’, pp. 129-30

“And so Christ sanctified both these types of theology [the humble type and exalted type] in His own person, since He both experienced the humble theology in the humiliation of the flesh, and now enjoys the exalted type in that very exaltation by which He now has been exalted above every name…”

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Article

1600’s

Riissen, Leonard – ch. 11, ‘Christ’, ‘Controversy 1 – Was the soul of Christ from the beginning in a state of blessedness so that it knew all things and was not able to feel grief?  We deny against the Papists.’  in A Complete Summary of Elenctic Theology & of as Much Didactic Theology as is Necessary  trans. J. Wesley White  MTh thesis  (Bern, 1676; GPTS, 2009), p. 120

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Latin Articles

1500’s

Zanchi, Jerome – Question 11, pp. 360-75  in bk. 2, ch. 3  in On the Incarnation of the Son of God…  (Heidelberg, 1593)

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1600’s

Alting, Henry – Problem 19, ‘Whether even perfect beatitude was able to be given to Christ according to his soul during the time of his traversing in the earth? [No]’  in Locus 12, ‘Of the Person & Office of Christ’  in A New Problematic Theology, or a System of Theological Problems  (Amsterdam, 1662), p. 585

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1700’s

De Moor, Bernard – ch. 19, ‘Of the Person of Jesus Christ’, section 22, ‘On the Communication of Gifts’  in A Continuous Commentary on John Marck’s Compendium of Didactic & Elenctic Christian Theology  (Leiden, 1761-71), vol. 3, pp. 799-806

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Historical Theology

On Aquinas

Lim, Joshua H. – Vidimus eum plenum gratiae et veritatis: Thomas Aquinas on the Co-Assumed Perfections: Christ’s Grace & Knowledge  PhD diss.  Abstract  (Univ. of Notre Dame, 2019)

Note that Aquinas took the typical Romanist view, which is erroneous, that Christ partook of the Beatific vision in his humiliation.


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That the Saints Enjoy the Beatific Vision before the Final Judgment & yet that their Blessedness will be Greater After the Resurrection

Westminster Confession

Ch. 32, ‘Of the State of Men after Death, & of the Resurrection of the Dead’

“I. The bodies of men after death…   but their souls, (which neither die nor sleep) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them.[b]  The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies;[c]

b] Luke 23:43Eccl. 12:7
[c] Heb. 12:232 Cor. 5:1,6,8Phil. 1:23 with Acts 3:21 and Eph. 4:10

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Quotes

Anthony Walaeus

Synopsis of a Purer Theology…  (Brill, 2020), vol. 2, Disputation 40, ‘On the Church’,  sections 17-18, pp. 565-7

“In fact we assert from Scripture that the pious who have died under either of both testaments are not enjoying some heavenly joy apart from the presence of God, as some of the great men used to think [such as Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 5 and Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2.34.1 & 5.31.2], but that they are fully enjoying true and unbroken blessedness in God’s very presence.  Even so we do not deny that some degree of happiness is kept aside for them until the last day, when [their souls] will be joined to their bodies.

This is demonstrated by very many places of Scripture, for also David locates the place of their true blessedness as the presence of God (Psalm 26:23 and [Ps.] 84).  And Paul desires ‘to depart and to be with Christ’ (Philippians 1:23); and 2 Corinthians 5:8: ‘And so we choose rather to depart from the body and go to dwell with the Lord.’  The apostle testifies that Christ is with the Father, and on the Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21; John 17:5; Hebrews 9:24).  Therefore also throughout Revelation the deceased saints are placed together with the angels before the throne of God and the Lamb, so that they sing constant praises and give thanks to Him, as can be seen in Revelation 4:8, 5:8, and 7:9.”

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Edward Leigh

A System or Body of Divinity…  (London, 1654), bk. 10, ch. 4, ‘Of Everlasting Life’, pp. 869-70

“It is a question: An sancti fruantur beatitudine ante ultimum judicium?[Whether the saints enjoy blessedness before the Last Judgment?]

It was a current opinion among most of the Fathers, if not all that the souls of men after their death do not go immediately to heaven, but are in a receptacle or mansion-place till the day of Judgement, and some of late have followed it, especially the Anabaptists.

The souls immediately departed have not the compleat fullness of that happiness which they shall have, yet they are not excluded from the enjoying of God, Lk. 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:1; Phil. 1:23.

Some say there is a difference of those that are raised again, as Lazarus and some others; for it is likely (say they) that their souls went not into hea∣ven, but were detained by God, who would unite them again to show forth his glory.

The accidental joy of the saints (say the [Medieval] Schoolmen) shall be greater, both extensively, because it shall be in soul and body, and intensively, because the soul shall rejoyce to see the body glorified.

2. The essential glory shall increase extensively, because it shall redound unto the body.

The souls of the godly immediately after their departure hence from the body are said to be in rest, Heb. 4:11 in consolation, Lk. 16:25, in security, Jn. 11:15,18, therefore they presently go to heaven, to God and Christ.

Consider the names given to the state of glory: it is called Life, ‘These shall enter into life’; Rest, find rest, go to rest; our home, our Fathers’ house; a purchased and glorious inheritance; A Kingdom, the Kingdom of heaven; Joy, our Master’s joy, everlasting joy; Glory, weight of glory, eternal weight of glory; The City of our God.

The Scripture calls it Paradise, a place of all delight and pleasure, alluding to that Paradise planted by God’s own hand, to make it a delight for the innocent state of man, and Abrahams bosom, wherein the Saints receive refreshing, which is a borrowed speech taken from fathers carrying and cherishing their little one, in their bosome, so the elect are cherished in the bosom of the father of all the faithful.

There is perfection, perpetuity, immutability, there is Foelix securitas, secura foelicitas. Bernard.”

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Historical Theology

On Aquinas

Llizo, Robert – ‘’Seeing’ God: St. Thomas Aquinas on the Beatific Vision & Resurrected Bodies’  10 pp.

Abstract:  “…the main question of this essay concerns the manner in which the resurrected body of the blessed benefits from the soul’s apprehension of the beatific vision.  For St. Thomas, the physical eyes do not see the beatific vision, since they can only see magnitude and proportion, and God is beyond both. The soul is the body’s substantial form, and a person is not fully a person without the union of soul and body. As the body’s substantial form, the soul/intellect has the beatific vision as its substantial form. The result of the enlightened intellect with the resurrected body will be that the physical eyes will be able to see more readily the glory of God in creation and in redeemed humanity, and more supremely in the incarnate Christ himself.”

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On the 1300’s

Gereby, Gyorgy – ’A Supremely Idle Question: Issues of the Beatific Vision Debate between 1331-1336’  (2018)

Abstract:  “The beatific vision debate (1331–1336) presents two problems. First, what could have been the motivation of Pope John XXII for raising the issue?  Second, why was his proposed theology of the delayed vision [till after the Final Judgment] rejected nearly unanimously?  This paper, after a summary of the debate, tries to answer these two questions.  It appears that the Pope initiated the controversy in the name of a conservative theology reaching back past High Scholasticism to Patristic authors….”

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Latin Articles

1100’s

Lombard, Peter – ‘Whether the Blessedness of the Saints may be Greater After the Judgment?’ [Yes]   in Four Books of Sentences…  (Rothomag, 1651), bk. 4, Distinction 49, p. 156

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1700’s

De Moor, Bernardinus – sections 7-8  of ch. 25, ‘Of the Blessed Glorification of the Elect’  in A Continuous Commentary on John Marck’s Compendium of Didactic & Elenctic Christian Theology  (Leiden, 1761-1771), vol. 6, pp. 602-26

This section is on the born-again soul immediately being transported to Heaven upon death and partaking of the beatific vision, contra errors.


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That the Vision will be Spiritually through Christ our Head  though not limited to being through a physical sight of Him

See also the definition above by Junius.

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Quote

John Owen

Meditations & Discourses on the Glory of Christ, ch. 14, ‘Other Differences…’  in Works, vol. 1, pp. 413-4

“1. There are continual operations of God in Christ in the souls of them that are glorified, and communications from Him unto them.  For all creatures must eternally live, even in heaven, in dependence on Him who is the eternal fountain of being, life, goodness, and blessedness unto all.  As we cannot subsist one moment in our beings, lives, souls, bodies, the inward or outward man, without the continual actings of divine power in us, and towards us; so in the glorified state our all shall depend eternally on divine power and goodness, communicating themselves unto us, for all the ends of our blessed subsistence
in heaven.

2. What is the way and manner of these communications, we
cannot comprehend.  We cannot, indeed, fully understand the nature and way of his spiritual communications unto us in this life.  We know these things by their signs, their outward means, and principally by the effects they produce in the real change of our natures; but in themselves we see but little of them.  “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but we know not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is bom of the Spirit,” John 3:8.  All God’s real operations in heaven and earth are incomprehensible, as being acts of infinite power; and we cannot search them out unto perfection.

3. All communications from the Divine Being and infinite fulness in heaven unto glorified saints, are in and through Christ Jesus, who shall forever be the medium of communication between God and the church, even in glory.  All things being gathered into one head in him, even things in heaven, and things in earth— that head being in immediate dependence on God—this order shall never be dissolved, Eph. 1:10-11; 1 Cor. 3:[22-]23.  And on these communications from God through Christ depends entirely our continuance in a state of blessedness and glory.  We shall no more be self-subsistent in glory than we are in nature or grace.”


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On Perfection & Increase

Quote

John Owen

Meditations & Discourses on the Glory of Christ, ch. 14, ‘Other Differences…’  in Works, vol. 1, pp. 412-14

“4. In the first operation of this light of glory, believers shall so behold the glory of Christ, and the glory of God in Him, as that therewith and thereby they shall be immediately and universally changed into his likeness.  They shall be as He is, when they shall see Him as He is.

There is no growth in glory, as to parts— there may be as to degrees.  Additions may be outwardly made unto what is at first received as by the resurrection of the body; but the internal light of glory and its transforming efficacy is capable of no degrees, though new revelations may be made unto it unto eternity.  For the infinite fountain of life and light, and goodness, can never be fathomed, much less exhausted.

And what God spake on the entrance of sin, by the way of contempt and reproach, ‘Behold, the man is become like one of us!’ upbraiding him with what he had foolishly designed—on the accomplishment of the work of his grace, He says in love and infinite goodness, “Man is become like one of us, in the perfect restoration of our image in him.’  This is the first effect of the light of glory.

4. …For, as it is expressly assigned thereunto in the Scripture, so whereas it contains the perfect operation of our minds and souls in a perfect state, on the most perfect object, it is the only mea.ns of our blessedness.  And this is the true cause whence there neither is nor can be any satiety or weariness in heaven, in the eternal contemplation of the same glory.  For not only the object of our sight is absolutely infinite, which can never be searched unto the bottom, yea, is perpetually new unto a finite understanding; but our subjective blessedness consisting in continual fresh communications from the infinite fulness of the divine nature, derived unto us through vision, is always new, and always will be so to eternity.  Herein shall all the saints
of God drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at his right hand, be satisfied with his likeness, and refresh themselves in the eternal springs of life, light, and joy for evermore.”

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“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

Mt. 18:10

“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”

Rev. 22:5

“And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.  And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.”

Ex. 24:10-11

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Related Pages

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On Union with Christ & the Fruits of the Fellowship Ensuing Therefrom

The Grounds of Christ the Mediator Receiving Divine Worship

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Of God, the Knowledge of God & of his Attributes

On God’s Revealed Will

On the Will of God

On God’s Essential Works Inside & Outside of Himself (ad intra & ad extra)

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