St. Thomas Aquinas on Seeking God

The following are some brief notes from a sermon by R.C. Sproul: The Woman at the Well.  Dr. Sproul is founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries.

~ We often come across people who say such things as, my friend is not a Christian, but he or she is seeking or searching for God. However the Scriptures tell us that in our fallen condition no one seeks after God.  R.C. does not quote Scripture but here is one.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. ~Romans 3:10-11

The quest for God does not begin until your conversion. Prior to that you are running as fast as you can and as far as you can from God.

So what gives with all these apparent seekers?

R.C. thinks that the best answer for this comes from Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).  Of this Aquinas said (paraphrasing),

“We see people all around us
desperately seeking for peace, 
desperately seeking for relief from their guilt,
desperately seeking for something to fill the emptiness of their souls and their lives.

And we look at them and we say from our perspective – we know that the only thing that is going to satisfy that hunger and that thirst withing their souls is the living Christ. And so since they are seeking to have their thirst assuaged and their hunger satisfied, they must be seeking for God.”

Aquinas said “No no no.  People desperately search for the things that only God can give them, while at the same time they are fleeing from Him.”


Elsewhen, I have seen R.C. refer to Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) with regards to this issue.  Edwards pointed out that most people do not seek after God.  Rather they seek after the benefits of God.  This seems to me to be strikingly true.  If you run into someone who claims to be seeking after God, talk to them for a bit and you will find out that they really are seeking otherwise. This become particularly salient if you tell them that there is a cost to following Jesus of Nazareth.*

*cost = ostracism, rejection, ridicule from kith & kin, etc.