Which influence hath Thomas Aquinas for the Reformed Theology ?

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Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
What i know for example is that Aquinas teach in his summa... purgatory, praying to the mary and the saints, salvation and works, the pope....etc, typical false doctrines which hath a very import influence of the teaching of the RCC, and which the reformers were fighting against. he is called the best and famous theologion of the RCC.

We all will acknowledge that Aquinas hath some errors, but my question is than is the modern RCC not standing in the tradition of the toughts and teachings of Aquinas ? Because i know that there are some reformed theologions (Like RC Sproul) and also members (like Mark and webmaster.....) of the board who love to read his summa.....

I hope that someone can share with me, why Aquinas is very important to read for the reformed theology and understanding of right doctrines ? :book2::scholar:

[Edited on 1-22-2006 by Mayflower]
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I'm not an expert on Aquinas. But one cannot read the writings of the Reformers and not be keenly aware that on many points the Reformers agreed with him on matters of doctrine and when they disagreed they saw him as a giant in the Roman Catholic scholastic tradition whose arguments must be addressed not ignored.

For example, Herman Bavinck says (The Doctrine of God):

Essentially the teaching of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in regard to predestination was accepted by the Reformers: the modifications introduced by them were slight and unessential, if we except the doctrine of assurance. The Reformers agreed with Augustine and Thomas Aquinas on many points; viz., they, too, believed that election is not conditioned upon foreseen merits, but that it is the source of faith and good works; that predestination unto glory always implies predestination unto grace; that negative reprobation is not to be explained as an act of God's justice but as an act of his sovereignty, and that it logically precedes sin; that this negative reprobation is followed by a decree to permit sin and to allow some to remain in their fallen state and that positive reprobation takes sin into account.

The Reformers are indebted to Aquinas for his trifold division of God's law (moral, judicial, ceremonial). Calvin and the Puritans agreed with him that musical instruments had no place in the worship of the church. His remarks on just war theory and the best form of government were very much in line with later Reformation thought.

Much more could be said. For the student of church history or in the interests of Protestant apologetics for Romanists it is invaluable to be acquainted with the works of Thomas Aquinas.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
that on many points the Reformers agreed with him on matters of doctrine and when they disagreed they saw him as a giant in the Roman Catholic scholastic tradition ...

...Herman Bavinck says (The Doctrine of God):

Essentially the teaching of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in regard to predestination was accepted by the Reformers...

...The Reformers are indebted to Aquinas for his trifold division of God's law (moral, judicial, ceremonial). Calvin and the Puritans agreed with him that musical instruments had no place in the worship of the church. His remarks on just war theory and the best form of government were very much in line with later Reformation thought.

Andrew and Herman (!) are correct.

Thomas was a regarded as a significant theologian and he did transmit widely received patristic and medieval ideas to the Reformation and post-Reformation theologies. There is, ironically, little evidence that either Calvin or Luther actually read him. It's likely that there was no copy of the Summa in Geneva until after Calvin's death. The references in the Battles edn of the Institutes are all in the footnotes. Calvin makes very few direct references to Thomas in his body of writing.

Zanchi and Vermigili have been credited with introducing Thomas to Reformed orthodoxy and some have dismissed Zanchi (Otto Gründler does this, much to OG's discredit) him because he was, in some respects, Thomist. Modern scholarship (see Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment for more on this) has shown this approach to be wrong headed.

There was, however, much in Thomas with which the Reformers and the orthodox disagreed, however, namely his Platonism/Plotininianism/Dionysianism (the notion that there is a sort of chain of being in the universe on which God is at the top and we at the bottom and we climb it by grace and cooperation with grace).

Thomas was strong predestinarian, as Bavinck notes (Summa 1a 23.3, I think) but he was also capable of speaking like a semi-Pelagian. In his six-fold division of grace, he has a type that is sovereign and a type that requires human cooperation. Both are true at the same time, for Thomas. He's quite capable of introducing severe tension into his theology without reconciliation. For Thomas justification IS sanctification. There is no distinction between law and gospel. Grace is infused, with which we cooperate toward eventual justification.

Because of his Plotinian chain of being he taught that we are created with concupiscence. We need grace before the fall to restrain our natural inclination to sin. The Reformation rejected this idea (See HC 6. 9).

He also taught that the human intellect intersects with the divine (intellectualism). The Reformation and the Reformed orthodox rejected this notion in favor of analogical knowledge (theologia archetypa et ectypa).

There is much to be learned in Thomas, but he must be read with care and in his own context.

Those modern evangelicals arguments suggesting that Thomas was a proto-Protestant etc are not credible.

rsc

[Edited on 1-23-2006 by R. Scott Clark]
 

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
Dear Andrew & R. Scott Clark, thanks alot for the information of Aquinas, which was very helpfull.

Dear R. Scott Clark, do you know more topics which are discribe in the Summa..., which are very helpfull to underdestand the Reformed Theology ?
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Just noticed this thread. And I agree with what Dr. Clark, and Andrew have posted.

I am a bit more liberal and tend to embrace Platonic and Aristotelian categories.
Dr. Clark explained the following idea to me as well which I am still researching and trying to gain a better understanding on:

He also taught that the human intellect intersects with the divine (intellectualism). The Reformation and the Reformed orthodox rejected this notion in favor of analogical knowledge (theologia archetypa et ectypa).

I actually embraced that concept from reading Aquinas without even realizing it, and without knowing there are other alternatives.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Thomas was strong predestinarian, as Bavinck notes (Summa 1a 23.3, I think) but he was also capable of speaking like a semi-Pelagian. In his six-fold division of grace, he has a type that is sovereign and a type that requires human cooperation. Both are true at the same time, for Thomas. He's quite capable of introducing severe tension into his theology without reconciliation. For Thomas justification IS sanctification. There is no distinction between law and gospel. Grace is infused, with which we cooperate toward eventual justification...

Those modern evangelicals arguments suggesting that Thomas was a proto-Protestant etc are not credible.

I know Gerstner (himself something of a Thomist I think) in his minitheology on Edwards implies that Aquinas was perhaps a little inclined towards sola fide. Is there Any merit to that claim? Also Pastor DTK posted a quote by Aquinas very favorable to sola scriptura (though he was careful to note that the idea was undeveloped in his thought.)
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Peter
Thomas was strong predestinarian, as Bavinck notes (Summa 1a 23.3, I think) but he was also capable of speaking like a semi-Pelagian. In his six-fold division of grace, he has a type that is sovereign and a type that requires human cooperation. Both are true at the same time, for Thomas. He's quite capable of introducing severe tension into his theology without reconciliation. For Thomas justification IS sanctification. There is no distinction between law and gospel. Grace is infused, with which we cooperate toward eventual justification...

Those modern evangelicals arguments suggesting that Thomas was a proto-Protestant etc are not credible.

I know Gerstner (himself something of a Thomist I think) in his minitheology on Edwards implies that Aquinas was perhaps a little inclined towards sola fide. Is there Any merit to that claim? Also Pastor DTK posted a quote by Aquinas very favorable to sola scriptura (though he was careful to note that the idea was undeveloped in his thought.)

There is some merit in it, I think. Mathison notes that catholic views on Revelation/Infallibility were in flux at the time and it wouldn't be surprising that Thomas said things that sounded like sola scriptura.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
that on many points the Reformers agreed with him on matters of doctrine and when they disagreed they saw him as a giant in the Roman Catholic scholastic tradition ...

...Herman Bavinck says (The Doctrine of God):

Essentially the teaching of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in regard to predestination was accepted by the Reformers...

...The Reformers are indebted to Aquinas for his trifold division of God's law (moral, judicial, ceremonial). Calvin and the Puritans agreed with him that musical instruments had no place in the worship of the church. His remarks on just war theory and the best form of government were very much in line with later Reformation thought.

Andrew and Herman (!) are correct.

Thomas was a regarded as a significant theologian and he did transmit widely received patristic and medieval ideas to the Reformation and post-Reformation theologies. There is, ironically, little evidence that either Calvin or Luther actually read him. It's likely that there was no copy of the Summa in Geneva until after Calvin's death. The references in the Battles edn of the Institutes are all in the footnotes. Calvin makes very few direct references to Thomas in his body of writing.

Zanchi and Vermigili have been credited with introducing Thomas to Reformed orthodoxy and some have dismissed Zanchi (Otto Gründler does this, much to OG's discredit) him because he was, in some respects, Thomist. Modern scholarship (see Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment for more on this) has shown this approach to be wrong headed.

There was, however, much in Thomas with which the Reformers and the orthodox disagreed, however, namely his Platonism/Plotininianism/Dionysianism (the notion that there is a sort of chain of being in the universe on which God is at the top and we at the bottom and we climb it by grace and cooperation with grace).

Thomas was strong predestinarian, as Bavinck notes (Summa 1a 23.3, I think) but he was also capable of speaking like a semi-Pelagian. In his six-fold division of grace, he has a type that is sovereign and a type that requires human cooperation. Both are true at the same time, for Thomas. He's quite capable of introducing severe tension into his theology without reconciliation. For Thomas justification IS sanctification. There is no distinction between law and gospel. Grace is infused, with which we cooperate toward eventual justification.

Because of his Plotinian chain of being he taught that we are created with concupiscence. We need grace before the fall to restrain our natural inclination to sin. The Reformation rejected this idea (See HC 6. 9).

He also taught that the human intellect intersects with the divine (intellectualism). The Reformation and the Reformed orthodox rejected this notion in favor of analogical knowledge (theologia archetypa et ectypa).

There is much to be learned in Thomas, but he must be read with care and in his own context.

Those modern evangelicals arguments suggesting that Thomas was a proto-Protestant etc are not credible.

rsc

[Edited on 1-23-2006 by R. Scott Clark]

Scott,

Thank you for the well thought out and helpful analysis.

It made me think of a question: how do you see the interaction in Aquinas of Platonic (Plotinus being essentially Platonic) categories alongside Aquinas' obvious affinity for Aristotle? There would seem to be at some level at least (and maybe more than just some level) inherent contradictions, especially as regards epistemology and ontonology. It may be that the answer is that Aquinas was just inconsistent. It has been some years since I did much work in Aquinas, so I am not sure myself.

Any insight you might have would be helpful. Thanks again.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
how do you see the interaction in Aquinas of Platonic (Plotinus being essentially Platonic) categories alongside Aquinas' obvious affinity for Aristotle? There would seem to be at some level at least (and maybe more than just some level) inherent contradictions, especially as regards epistemology and ontonology. It may be that the answer is that Aquinas was just inconsistent. It has been some years since I did much work in Aquinas, so I am not sure myself.

Any insight you might have would be helpful. Thanks again.

Fred,

I call him a bi-perspectivalist. He starts out quite empiricist and he is, right until he verifies his sense perception by intersecting with the divine intellect. He's unwilling to live with sheer analogy. He is a bi-perspectivalist throughout his theology. He's a strong predestinarian right up to the point he becomes semi-Augustinian/Pelagian by teaching the necessity of cooperation with grace for sanctity which is necessary for justification. This is clear in the six-fold division of grace.

In our circles Thomas is often discussed as if he was a pure Aristotelian and this isn't true. Of course, there is the matter of the degree to which Aristotle was consistent or continuous with Plato which complicates things. I speak of Plotinus because it was via neo-Platonism (which is a little different from Plato himself) and Dionysius that he inherited this ontic tendency in his theology.

There's a new volume on this (Plotinus and Thomas) that I've not yet read but it's on my list.

rsc
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
how do you see the interaction in Aquinas of Platonic (Plotinus being essentially Platonic) categories alongside Aquinas' obvious affinity for Aristotle? There would seem to be at some level at least (and maybe more than just some level) inherent contradictions, especially as regards epistemology and ontonology. It may be that the answer is that Aquinas was just inconsistent. It has been some years since I did much work in Aquinas, so I am not sure myself.

Any insight you might have would be helpful. Thanks again.

Fred,

I call him a bi-perspectivalist. He starts out quite empiricist and he is, right until he verifies his sense perception by intersecting with the divine intellect. He's unwilling to live with sheer analogy. He is a bi-perspectivalist throughout his theology. He's a strong predestinarian right up to the point he becomes semi-Augustinian/Pelagian by teaching the necessity of cooperation with grace for sanctity which is necessary for justification. This is clear in the six-fold division of grace.

In our circles Thomas is often discussed as if he was a pure Aristotelian and this isn't true. Of course, there is the matter of the degree to which Aristotle was consistent or continuous with Plato which complicates things. I speak of Plotinus because it was via neo-Platonism (which is a little different from Plato himself) and Dionysius that he inherited this ontic tendency in his theology.

There's a new volume on this (Plotinus and Thomas) that I've not yet read but it's on my list.

rsc

Who is the author of that book? I would be interested in that, since Plotinus does have (quietly) more influence in Christian circles than PLato (who gets all the press ;) )

Yes, it is complicated, because of the relation of Aristotle to Plato. And it seems curious to me that Aquinas is very free quoting and citing Aristotle as an authority - "the Philosopher" - and yet never (that I can think of) gives attribution to Plotinus. Not much Plato either. That is curious, given your analysis - which I agree with. I wonder why he did that?
 

TimeRedeemer

Puritan Board Freshman
There was, however, much in Thomas with which the Reformers and the orthodox disagreed, however, namely his Platonism/Plotininianism/Dionysianism (the notion that there is a sort of chain of being in the universe on which God is at the top and we at the bottom and we climb it by grace and cooperation with grace).

Wait a minute, this is called Covenant Theology, no? You're created on high, you fall, you are drawn back up by grace and effort made possible by grace... (At least in the implied hierarchical scale and vertical movement in that if not in supposed 'beings' all up and down.)

The reason: because God can create you in His image, but he can't develop real consciousness, real will, and real understanding in you without making you a robot; so He sets it up that you develop it in your experience of having fallen and then in the return. Hell exists because there have to be real and dire consequences if it all is to be real.

OK, I'm allowing my worldly, classical, mystical past enter here just a little...
 

raderag

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by Saiph
Just noticed this thread. And I agree with what Dr. Clark, and Andrew have posted.

I am a bit more liberal and tend to embrace Platonic and Aristotelian categories.

Mark, I don't think the term "liberal" is an adequate description for what you are talking about. Its just a pet peeve of mine that the term liberal is an oft abused word in theological circles today. Its one thing to confuse liberalism with neo-orthodoxy, but Platonism is not really liberalism per se.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
that on many points the Reformers agreed with him on matters of doctrine and when they disagreed they saw him as a giant in the Roman Catholic scholastic tradition ...

...Herman Bavinck says (The Doctrine of God):

Essentially the teaching of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in regard to predestination was accepted by the Reformers...

...The Reformers are indebted to Aquinas for his trifold division of God's law (moral, judicial, ceremonial). Calvin and the Puritans agreed with him that musical instruments had no place in the worship of the church. His remarks on just war theory and the best form of government were very much in line with later Reformation thought.

Andrew and Herman (!) are correct.

Thomas was a regarded as a significant theologian and he did transmit widely received patristic and medieval ideas to the Reformation and post-Reformation theologies. There is, ironically, little evidence that either Calvin or Luther actually read him. It's likely that there was no copy of the Summa in Geneva until after Calvin's death. The references in the Battles edn of the Institutes are all in the footnotes. Calvin makes very few direct references to Thomas in his body of writing.

Zanchi and Vermigili have been credited with introducing Thomas to Reformed orthodoxy and some have dismissed Zanchi (Otto Gründler does this, much to OG's discredit) him because he was, in some respects, Thomist. Modern scholarship (see Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment for more on this) has shown this approach to be wrong headed.

There was, however, much in Thomas with which the Reformers and the orthodox disagreed, however, namely his Platonism/Plotininianism/Dionysianism (the notion that there is a sort of chain of being in the universe on which God is at the top and we at the bottom and we climb it by grace and cooperation with grace).

Thomas was strong predestinarian, as Bavinck notes (Summa 1a 23.3, I think) but he was also capable of speaking like a semi-Pelagian. In his six-fold division of grace, he has a type that is sovereign and a type that requires human cooperation. Both are true at the same time, for Thomas. He's quite capable of introducing severe tension into his theology without reconciliation. For Thomas justification IS sanctification. There is no distinction between law and gospel. Grace is infused, with which we cooperate toward eventual justification.

Because of his Plotinian chain of being he taught that we are created with concupiscence. We need grace before the fall to restrain our natural inclination to sin. The Reformation rejected this idea (See HC 6. 9).

He also taught that the human intellect intersects with the divine (intellectualism). The Reformation and the Reformed orthodox rejected this notion in favor of analogical knowledge (theologia archetypa et ectypa).

There is much to be learned in Thomas, but he must be read with care and in his own context.

Those modern evangelicals arguments suggesting that Thomas was a proto-Protestant etc are not credible.

rsc

[Edited on 1-23-2006 by R. Scott Clark]

That's interesting. I have Peter Kreeft's Summa of the Summa and Kreeft's footnotes of Aquinas' view on the sovereignty of God parallel almost to a dot John Frame's footnotes on Van Til's view of the sovereignty of God, at least to the point as it effects human liberty. Of course, I realize that differences abound and am hesistant to read much more into it, but it was an interesting eye-opener.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
rsc: There's a new volume on this (Plotinus and Thomas) that I've not yet read but it's on my list.

Fred: Who is the author of that book? I would be interested in that, since Plotinus does have (quietly) more influence in Christian circles than PLato (who gets all the press ;) )

...Aquinas is very free quoting and citing Aristotle as an authority - "the Philosopher" - and yet never (that I can think of) gives attribution to Plotinus. Not much Plato either. That is curious, given your analysis - which I agree with. I wonder why he did that?

I guess the connection is Albert the Great. I suspect Thomas was not very conscious of his neo-Platonism.

The volume is:

F. O'Rourke, Pseudo-Dionysius and the Metaphysics of Aquinas
(Notre Dame, IN, University of Notre Dame Press, 2005).

Cheers,

rsc
 
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