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Moral Good, the Beatific Vision, and God’s Kingdom

Writings by Germain Grisez and Peter Ryan, S.J.

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Edited By Peter J. Weigel

For close to half a century, the work of Germain Grisez has been highly influential, and his writings continue to receive considerable attention from philosophers and theologians of diverse viewpoints. His co-author for this work is the professor and noted moral theologian Fr. Peter Ryan, S.J., currently the executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). These two eminent scholars explore fundamental questions about Christian eschatology, moral theory, the purpose of human life, and the promise of human fulfilment. The authors examine Christian teaching on the final destiny of persons, investigating the meaning of God’s kingdom, the hope of the beatific vision, and the centrality of moral goodness and divine grace in one’s final end. This work is an ideal source for students, scholars, ministers and lay persons interested in basic questions of Christian theology, the philosophy of religion, ethical theory, and Catholic doctrine.
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The True Ultimate End of Human Beings: the Kingdom, Not God Alone

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GERMAIN GRISEZ

The author argues against the view that the true ultimate end of human beings is only in God, attained by the beatific vision. The alternative proposed is that human beings’ true ultimate end is fulfillment in God’s kingdom, a communion of divine Persons and created persons, in which human members will be fulfilled with respect to all the goods proper to their nature. On this view, beatitude has various degrees, and the fulfillment of the blessed will continue increasing forever.

THOMAS AQUINAS HELD that the true ultimate end of human beings is God alone, attained by the beatific vision (a thesis I will call “TUEGABV”). In this article, I first set out his case for that thesis. Next, I describe an earlier attempt of mine to refute it and deal with three critics’ responses to that attempt. I then offer five arguments to show either that Thomas’s case for TUEGABV is unsound or that the thesis itself is untenable. Finally, I sketch out my views on what can be known naturally about the ultimate end toward which human beings should direct their lives and what divine revelation adds.

Thomas’s Case

The following six paragraphs summarize those elements of Thomas’s treatise on beatitude in the Summa theologiae that are essential to understand his defense of TUEGABV and the arguments I propose against it.

(1) Thomas argues that human beings always act for an end, and that, while...

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