The Profession of Faith
known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no
admixture of error.”
In defending the ability of human reason to knowGod, the
Church is expressing her confidence in the possibility of speaking
about him to all men and with all men, and therefore of dialogue
with other religions, with philosophy and science, as well as with
unbelievers and atheists.
Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about
him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as
our starting point, and in accordance with our limited human ways
of knowing and thinking.
All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most
especially man, created in the image and likeness of God. The
manifold perfections of creatures—their truth, their goodness, their
beauty—all reflect the infinite perfection of God. Consequently we
can name God by taking his creatures’ perfections as our starting
point, “for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes
a corresponding perception of their Creator.”
God transcends all creatures. We must therefore continu-
ally purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-
bound or imperfect, if we are not to confuse our image of God—
“the inexpressible, the incomprehensible, the invisible, the un-
graspable”—with our human representations.
always fall short of the mystery of God.
Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language
is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does
attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite
simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that “between Creator and
creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even
and that “concerning God, we cannot
grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings
stand in relation to him.”
14 Pius XII,
561: DS 3876; cf.
2: DS 3005;
I, 1, 1.
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom,
17 Lateran Council IV: DS 806.
18 St. Thomas Aquinas,