Divine Attributes

Maritain and the Divine Acceptance of Evil

Jacques Maritain, “Reflections on Theological Knowledge,” Untrammeled Approaches, 257-258:

“Each time that a creature sins (and in each case the creature takes the first initiative, the initiative of nothingness), God is deprived of a joy (‘Above and beyond’ according to our way of looking at things) which was due to Him by another and which that other does not give Him, and something inadmissible to God is produced in the world.  But even before triumphing over what is inadmissible by a greater good which will overcompensate for it later on, God Himself, far from being subject to it, raises it above everything by His consent.  In accepting such a privation (which in no way affects His being but only the creatures relation to Him), He takes it in hand and raises it up like a trophy, attesting to the divinely pure grandeur of His victorious Acceptance (ours is never such except at the cost of some defeat); and this is something that adds absolutely nothing to the intrinsic perfection and glory of the divine Esse, and is eternally precontained in Its essential and supereminent infinity.  For this is an integral part of a mysterious divine perfection which, even though it has reference to the privation of what is due to God by creatures existing at some particular point in time, is infinitely beyond the reach of creatures… This divine perfection is eternally present in Godand, by the infinite transcendence of the Divine Being, is the unnamed exemplar, incapable of being designated by any of our concepts, toward which like blind men we raise our eyes, and which corresponds in uncreated glory what suffering is in us .”