Friday, September 19, 2008

Thomas Aquinas and Apologetics

Consider this passage from the Summa Theologica - I.q1.art8:
As other sciences do not argue in proof of their principles, but argue from their principles to demonstrate other truths in these sciences: so this doctrine [theology] does not argue in proof of its principles, which are the articles of faith, but from them it goes on to prove something else; as the Apostle from the resurrection of Christ argues in proof of the general resurrection (1 Cor. 15)…Sacred Scripture…can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation…If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections---if he has any---against faith…[S]acred doctrine makes use even of human reason, not, indeed, to prove faith (for thereby the merit of faith would come to an end), but to make clear other things that are put forward in this doctrine.
Here is a question for my more-or-less Barthian friends and colleagues: How do you think this matches up with Barth’s own position vis-à-vis natural theology and apologetics?

3 comments:

Luke said...

Very interesting to me, Travis.

What does Thomas understand for “some truths obtained through divine revelation...”? I don’t think one can accept some part of divine revelation and left others aside. One left two: you believe or you do not. Besides, the believing one is not in any special condition that allows him to construct a system from the basis of his faith. From a physical and psychological point of view the believer is exactly the same that the no believing. So, I don’t think one can demonstrate not evident revealed truths on the grounds of primal revealed truths.

On the other hand, every man comes to believe from her unbelieving state in which she was born. This poses the question of the relationship of faith with the natural state of man previous to revelation.

Dom C. said...

Thanks Travis, that pertains directly to some of the questions I've been thinking a lot about recently.

Jason said...

Travis, this is a great find. In a recent discussion group at Vanderbilt, we worked through the first chapters of Dogmatics in Outline and Evangelical Theology. One of the participants brought the Summa, though he didn't quote this exact passage.

I think it's a great find because, on the face of it, I can't see any material differences between this statement and the things covered in the aforementioned chapters.

Except, of course, that everything is a matter of divine revelation for Barth...at least everything about God.