Aquinas Disagreement

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
The immanent Trinity/economic Trinity equation sets up a very traditional Roman Catholic mutualism. It makes God dependent on creation, which is one of the main problems with Aquinas, though he would probably deny that such was an implication of his theology. What God does in history that appears to change reflects only the change of the creation/created being, not a change in God. God is always consistent in His treatment of creation, so if the creation changes, then God's treatment of that person will change without reflecting any change in God Himself. But if you equate the immanent with the economic, then that forces a change within God Himself if there is a change in the economic Trinity. Ultimately, then, the equation of immanent and economic is equivalent to a denial of the immutability of God. The Reformed Forum guys are really great at filling out this discussion. In fact, they thread the needle between the very real problems of Oliphint's treatment of Aquinas, and the Reformed Thomists.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
Well ok, I think I know what's going on here. So, if I understand you correctly, don't read anyone before the Reformation because they were tainted by RCC. Do I understand you correctly, I don't want to misunderstand you so correct me if I'm wrong? Also the whole "your philosophy is twisting you up" comment is a bit presumptuous how do you know thats what the person, or anyone else agreeing with them is doing, you responded to is guilty of?
I don't know your level of familiarity with the philosophy you're critiquing is but you would have to have a pretty familiar understanding of it to adequately critique anyone using it, maybe you have such knowledge IDK. Jacob and I disagree on several points here, but we both have (to give my brother kudos he has way more expertise on scholasticism than I do) adequate understanding in philosophy to engage in a respectful but sometimes critical discussion of them. But we both agree where it matters. Point being he and I have done the research to engage in such, I've always found it delightful, conversations. In order for you to know what "vain philosophy" is you first have to know philosophy.
But that seems to be what you have a problem with, any philosophy. But let's get back to my first point. If anyone before the Reformation is bad than how do you explain several points? They used people, like Aquinas, that came before them. So either you have some insight that they did not, nor would they agree with, but they're Reformation returned the gospel to the church by a methodology that you're saying is "Bible only" but they were too ignorant to see ultimately thats what they did (despite disagreeing with you on the value of people who came before)?
This insight, which seems to me to be largely and almost exclusively, is an American thing popularized by Fundamentalists in the early parts of the 20th century. This insight was lost almost exclusively from the Apostles to the Fundamentalists. I say that because the logical consequences of what seems to be your opinion is that despite the Reformers and Puritans disagreeing with you on the value of those that came before they got it right on "sola scriptura" (they just didn'ttake it far enough). A further consequence would be that they started us on the right path but it took Fundamentalists in the 20th century to finish the Reformation on this and thus give us a correct way to view history, I say Fundamentalists because they are the first to popularize this in America. If I misunderstand you please correct me. Now one more problem I see, what to do with the Apostolic fathers? RC or saved? Problem being they learned directly from the Apostles, but since they came before the Reformation they probably aren't saved. Or you could come up with an arbitrary date of when the RCC started to preach a "gospel" sending people to hell (I think you made the comment about Aquinas and Augustine) but the date and the substance of the argument would be simplistic and arbitrary at best. Please correct any misunderstandings I have of your view.
I tried to pinpoint the middle problem I spoke about and hopefully show it really is a bigger problem for the otherside. The person who above me spoke of "a lack of specificity" you're dead on and I hope this post focuses on what's really being said and how problematic it can be. If I or anyone else is misunderstanding you than perhaps being a bit more specific on your thoughts might alleviate that.
I didn't say not to read anyone before the reformation or that anyone before is romanist. My response was on Thomas specifically and his false teaching. It is also against people going beyond what scripture says. Thomas in his commentary on Romans (I believe it's Romans) somehow comes up with original, venial, and mortal sins. Two of those are cleverly devised myths. Thomas is full of stuff like that. I'm also not against all philosophy, but am against any philosophy that thinks it knows better than God and tries to explain things that God in his wisdom has decided not to reveal to us.

In any case, I have said my piece and as others have said it has been stated multiple times and we always end up in the same place. I have no doubt some can read Thomas and not be taken in by his false teaching while focusing on what he says right, but in the other cases I have heard of many swimming the Tiber because they weren't firmly grounded in scripture and his reasoning seduced them. EO seems to have this affect on many reformed these days as well. It's very sad. You all are still my brothers and sisters who are thomists, but I just can't go along with you on this one. God bless.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
This is very informative and helpful. How old is this distinction between the immanent and economic? Has it always been a feature of theology or is it a more recent articulation? I mean the terms themselves not just the ideas behind them.

I understood quoting Rahner would cause a reaction. Having never read him (because he's a heretic) I don't know how he defines what he means by that statement. My point was that to say Christ's statements about sending the Spirit are "just" about what He does in time is very dangerous because it separates the Trinity as it is from eternity and the Trinity as it operates in the world. These statements of Christ (and maybe a couple of others in the NT) are what we use to justify the claim that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. If they are just about God's works in time then I don't know what other ground we have for making that claim. Our trinitarian metaphysics has to be based on Scripture: we can't read our metaphysics into Scripture. I used Muller's argument because it seemed to be saying that if we separate rather than distinguish between the two then we can't know the truth about God. I agree we must avoid both extremes. But what I heard in RamistThomist's statement was a separation and not merely a distinction. He seemed to be saying that without someone else explaining trinitarian metaphysics, the Scriptural account left us only with an economic Trinity.

The language of a Brakel is far better and the distinction made by him and Muller seems sound. My concern has been suggestions- intentionally or not- that we can't know fundamental truths without reading someone like Aquinas. And yes when I read Scripture I am reading it with certain presuppositions drawn from the teachings of Reformed theology. But that is my point: I don't need to read Aquinas because Protestant divines before me did and produced a consistent, extensive body of systematic theology (which is very pastorally focused) and I can use that. I've never said Aquinas wasn't important in the history of the church or development of theology. I have only ever questioned the cavalier and enthusiastic recommendation of him today to Christians. Ostensibly because theology today is so shallow and yet I can't say I've seen as much

I didn't say not to read anyone before the reformation or that anyone before is romanist. My response was on Thomas specifically and his false teaching. It is also against people going beyond what scripture says. Thomas in his commentary on Romans (I believe it's Romans) somehow comes up with original, venial, and mortal sins. Two of those are cleverly devised myths. Thomas is full of stuff like that. I'm also not against all philosophy, but am against any philosophy that thinks it knows better than God and tries to explain things that God in his wisdom has decided not to reveal to us.

In any case, I have said my piece and as others have said it has been stated multiple times and we always end up in the same place. I have no doubt some can read Thomas and not be taken in by his false teaching while focusing on what he says right, but in the other cases I have heard of many swimming the Tiber because they weren't firmly grounded in scripture and his reasoning seduced them. EO seems to have this affect on many reformed these days as well. It's very sad. You all are still my brothers and sisters who are thomists, but I just can't go along with you on this one. God bless.
Well thank you for the clarification I'm glad j understand it now. For what its worth i have my own problems that can come from Thomism. Outside of theology proper and natural law I don't have much use for him. I've studied Thomists more than Thomas. I also echo your concerns about Thomas and philosophy. Thanks again as in for clarification. I'm sorry I misunderstood your larger concern.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
The immanent Trinity/economic Trinity equation sets up a very traditional Roman Catholic mutualism. It makes God dependent on creation, which is one of the main problems with Aquinas, though he would probably deny that such was an implication of his theology. What God does in history that appears to change reflects only the change of the creation/created being, not a change in God. God is always consistent in His treatment of creation, so if the creation changes, then God's treatment of that person will change without reflecting any change in God Himself. But if you equate the immanent with the economic, then that forces a change within God Himself if there is a change in the economic Trinity. Ultimately, then, the equation of immanent and economic is equivalent to a denial of the immutability of God. The Reformed Forum guys are really great at filling out this discussion. In fact, they thread the needle between the very real problems of Oliphint's treatment of Aquinas, and the Reformed Thomists.
Thanks for that Lane. This is an area where I need to learn more. I have been wondering if people prefer Aquinas over Vos (and his student, Van Til), will it mean a subtle unthreading of important Reformed distinctives over time?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
I have been wondering if people prefer Aquinas over Vos (and his student, Van Til), will it mean a subtle unthreading of important Reformed distinctives over time?
Yes. This is what the work of Dr. Lane Tipton at Reformed Forum is really about. He has shown—convincingly, I believe—that Aquinas’ errors were not only soteriological, but also anthropological. This is where Vos is so important in highlighting the “deeper Protestant conception” as it regards the image of God, a facet of Vos which Dr. Tipton has apparently made his life’s work to propagate, for which I am very thankful.

I would highly encourage you to go to Reformed Forum’s website and sign up for their free classes.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Thanks for that Lane. This is an area where I need to learn more. I have been wondering if people prefer Aquinas over Vos (and his student, Van Til), will it mean a subtle unthreading of important Reformed distinctives over time?

Most Reformed people today don't read either Aquinas or Vos/Van Til. One problem with that formulation is that Reformed distinctives (not least of which are "light of nature") were codified long before Van Til/Vos (though Vos was more open to natural theology than was Van Til). The natural theology of guys like Turretin didn't seem to unthread Reformed thought.

Another problem is that Van Til posited, if only accidentally, a gap between Calvin and the mid-20th century in terms of Reformed philosophy.

Van Til had many fascinating suggestions about anthropology. He developed almost none of them in any systematic, analytical sense. That is why I am cautiously open to Tipton's work. I think he can move the discussion past Van Til the apologist and Van Til the philosopher.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Why do I read Thomas Aquinas? Because I can. It's as simple as that. I am part of Mortimer Adler's Great Books program. It's a conversation free men have been having for 3,000 years. No one is making you join.

Everyone here is overestimating Thomas's appeal to the general public (it's also easy to see who has read him and who hasn't). For one, it's hard to find good copies of Summa Theologiae that aren't bastardized anthologies (anthologies are places where good thinkers go to die). They are usually quite expensive. And it isn't easy to read. I mean, it is quite difficult. Not Hegel difficult, but still very hard.

I can't even get Reformed people to read Turretin and move beyond "yet another book on the 5 Points that is exactly the same as the last 300 on the subject." I have no illusions about getting people to read Thomas.
 

DanSSwing

Puritan Board Freshman
We ought to be deriving our theology from divine revelation. Thomas derived most of his from Rome and from Aristotle. That doesn't mean that he didn't make some valuable contributions. But we need to be extra careful in his case to weigh his claims against Scripture.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Yes. This is what the work of Dr. Lane Tipton at Reformed Forum is really about. He has shown—convincingly, I believe—that Aquinas’ errors were not only soteriological, but also anthropological. This is where Vos is so important in highlighting the “deeper Protestant conception” as it regards the image of God, a facet of Vos which Dr. Tipton has apparently made his life’s work to propagate, for which I am very thankful.

I would highly encourage you to go to Reformed Forum’s website and sign up for their free classes.
Thanks Taylor. I love the Reformed Forum. I assume the Fellowship in Reformed Apologetics course is the one you mean? It looks quite extensive https://reformedforum.org/fellowship-in-reformed-apologetics/

Jacob recently made reference to the natural theology of Francis Turretin. I wonder how the Reformed Forum treats this?
Most Reformed people today don't read either Aquinas or Vos
Actually more people are reading Vos today thanks to the publication of his Reformed Dogmatics, his writings on Covenant Theology, his sermons recently published by Banner of Truth, and Olinger's biography of Vos.
That is why I am cautiously open to Tipton's work.
I hope it leads to a consistent strengthening of Reformed theology.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
We ought to be deriving our theology from divine revelation. Thomas derived most of his from Rome and from Aristotle. That doesn't mean that he didn't make some valuable contributions. But we need to be extra careful in his case to weigh his claims against Scripture.

Natural revelation is also divine revelation, as it comes from God.

There are many things I get from Aristotle that I can't imagine doing without. Such as:

  1. B is or exists (principle of existence)
  1. B is B (principle of identity)
  2. B is not non-B (principle of non-contradiction)
  3. Either B or non-B (principle of excluded middle)
  4. Non-B -/> B (principle of negative causality)
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
@RamistThomist and others:

IF we assume that there’s value in studying the whole body of Christian writing throughout the history of the Church,

BUT, not every Christian is equipped or ready to either profit from, or discern the problems with, someone like Aquinas,

THEN, what would be the fundamental works your average reading layman should focus on?

I’m talking about more than the Puritans.

Should someone in this position start at Calvin and move forward?

I’m sure everyone has a different answer, but I’d love to have a manageable list for study that doesn’t necessarily require Aquinas.

I'm back at a computer so I can give more of an answer:

On whom should I layman focus? The Hodges. Preferably Charles, but A. A. is probably more accessible.

As to Puritans most would say Owen, but if you do that then you are more likely to focus on a particular topic than a systematic whole. In that case, do volumes 1 and 2.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
The immanent Trinity/economic Trinity equation sets up a very traditional Roman Catholic mutualism. It makes God dependent on creation, which is one of the main problems with Aquinas, though he would probably deny that such was an implication of his theology. What God does in history that appears to change reflects only the change of the creation/created being, not a change in God. God is always consistent in His treatment of creation, so if the creation changes, then God's treatment of that person will change without reflecting any change in God Himself. But if you equate the immanent with the economic, then that forces a change within God Himself if there is a change in the economic Trinity. Ultimately, then, the equation of immanent and economic is equivalent to a denial of the immutability of God. The Reformed Forum guys are really great at filling out this discussion. In fact, they thread the needle between the very real problems of Oliphint's treatment of Aquinas, and the Reformed Thomists.
What is lacking in the treatment of this problem by the Reformed Scholastics?
I'm concerning that in this whole discussion, the juxtaposition is being made between modern manners of dealing with these matters, including the approach of Van Til, and the method of Thomas, with the Reformed Scholastics getting lost somewhere in the middle. If there is any value in appropriate Aquinas, I think it is to be found in how he has already been appropriated by Turretin, Ames, Maccovius, Voetius, etc. It's fine to point out this or that problem in Aquinas himself, I supposed, but are these problems also present in the Reformed Scholastics?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I don't agree. The Bible is clear on how a man is saved and 2 Timothy 3:16 and following makes it clear the Bible is enough. Galatians also is very clear on how we should view people who add works or rituals to the gospel. You aren't disagreeing with me, you are disagreeing with God. Your philosophy is twisting you up and you are giving passes to people who the Bible does not. Perhaps they won't be judged as severely as those who persisted in their error as those after the reformation, but I don't see anywhere in the Bible where people get a pass because they decided to follow human tradition rather than search the scriptures. Thomas was wrong on salvation and nothing will change that. We are supposed to mark and avoid teachings that will send you to hell.

I don't think you understood what he asked. If you did, you didn't answer his question. Would you apply the same standard to Augustine? Augustine is not as clear on justification as we would wish him to be. He said justification is "to be made righteous." From a Protestant standpoint that is unacceptable.
 

Aspiring Homesteader

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm back at a computer so I can give more of an answer:

On whom should I layman focus? The Hodges. Preferably Charles, but A. A. is probably more accessible.

As to Puritans most would say Owen, but if you do that then you are more likely to focus on a particular topic than a systematic whole. In that case, do volumes 1 and 2.
Thank you, sir. I just so happen to have Hodge’s 3 volume ST. I also have Berkhof’s ST and Manual, which are both on the list.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
I don't think you understood what he asked. If you did, you didn't answer his question. Would you apply the same standard to Augustine? Augustine is not as clear on justification as we would wish him to be. He said justification is "to be made righteous." From a Protestant standpoint that is unacceptable.
It isn't worth arguing anymore. I listed my standard and it is scripture. I believe I answered the question. The Bible is clear across the board on who should inherit the kingdom of God and that is the standard. The gospel was given to the simple. We never needed Thomas and we don't need him now. We have him though, great, use what you can and throw out the trash he invented if you want. God is bigger than a man and can communicate clearly on his own. You don't like my answer. I don't like your answers. Just going to have to agree to disagree as we have in the past.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Thank you, sir. I just so happen to have Hodge’s 3 volume ST. I also have Berkhof’s ST and Manual, which are both on the list.

Berkhof is more succinct, but I like Hodge better. And despite his unfair reputation, Hodge is actually a good writer. He's no WGT Shedd, of course, but still better than any modern.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
Natural revelation is also divine revelation, as it comes from God.

There are many things I get from Aristotle that I can't imagine doing without. Such as:

  1. B is or exists (principle of existence)
  2. B is B (principle of identity)
  3. B is not non-B (principle of non-contradiction)
  4. Either B or non-B (principle of excluded middle)
  5. Non-B -/> B (principle of negative causality)
Could you really not have grasped these without reading Aristotle though? I've read very little of Aristotle, and I'm pretty sure that all of those principles were fairly clear to me before I read the little of him I have read. In fact, the first 4 propositions are manifest to the average 7 year old, even if they wouldn't express them in exactly the same terms.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Could you really not have grasped these without reading Aristotle though? I've read very little of Aristotle, and I'm pretty sure that all of those principles were fairly clear to me before I read the little of him I have read. In fact, the first 4 propositions are manifest to the average 7 year old, even if they wouldn't express them in exactly the same terms.

In a sense that's true. That's why you have to use logic and first principles before you can even presuppose God. Part of it is tongue-in-cheek. We have this reaction against Aristotle that our fathers like Peter Martyr Vermigli didn't have.
https://www.amazon.com/Commentary-A...eter+martyr+vermigli+aristotle,aps,139&sr=8-1
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I appreciate many of he things shared in this lengthy thread.

Getting back to the OP, the controversy I've been following more closely is between James White and other Baptists who are into what they insist is "Great Tradition" exegesis and theology.

I see a lot of it as speaking past one another.

On the one hand there are those who are rightly pointing out that there is a well-worn doctrine of God that carried over into the Reformation.

On the other hand, some of the same just use the term "Great Tradition" and if someone (like James White) says that he's not sure that he can go with some very fine distinctions about God's simplicity then James has left the faith. The specific issue James started with had to do with whether God's attributes are really distinguishable between each other in the Godhead. He pushes back that, exegetically, this is a hard conclusion to come to and he's not willing to go there but doesn't cast out those who disagree.

I rather see that issue concerning God's attributes as crossing into archetypal theology where God is in Himself qualitatively different than we can comprehend. I'm willing, for the sake of not understanding all the issues, to see a metaphysical argument toward that end as valid.

James wasn't had had been asking for exegetical arguments. He's then accused of sort of a gross Biblicism where he throws out all of Church history if he doesn't side with Aquinas as the sine qua non on the doctrine of God.

Instead of remaining focused on this issue, what James has been doing is pointing out this sort of simple syllogism:

P1: If a man errs greatly in other areas of theology he cannot necessarily be relied upon as the final word concerning the doctrine of God.
P2: Aquinas errs regularly in other aspects of theology.
Conclusion: Let's not be too hasty making Aquinas the final word on the doctrine of God.

What James has been doing is doubling down on P2 showing how often Aquinas' theology on the Mass and many other topics is way off. He's the first one to regularly admit that Aquinas need not be disposed of, but that he errors are not inconsequential and so where does this "Great Tradition" party get the authority to judge all (even minor) departures from Aquinas as rejecting Church history.

in my opinion, there has been a lot of really childish circling of the wagons by some in response to White preferring to just mock Sola Scriptura or claiming,, baldly, that he's a Socinian.

White is not one to back down or lower the temperature either and I think many might come to the conclusion that his regular pointing out of Aquinas' well-known errors mean he rejects the value of Church history.

White, I think, rightly points out that even historical theology ultimately needs to be defended by appeal to the exegesis or GNC of Scripture, but it appears (to me at least) that others who Tweet against him as a rank heretic are not able to mount the case from a Biblical standpoint. In other words, the doctrines of the Godhead that arose over time did come about not by appealing to a "tradition" but to Scripture as their foundation. It wasn't a bald exegesis and required some use of GNC, but it did ultimately rest on Scripture.

In all of this, I'm willing to concede I haven't studied the issue on some of the finer points of simplicity to either argue for or against Aquinas on some of the specific issues that White is arguing regarding God's attributes ultimately all being the same. I do agree with those who have criticized Frame and others as departing from basic ideas of Divine simplicity but those were mounted with much greater care than I see here.

I'm not saying James is going about this in the best possible way, but it is pretty hard for anyone in his position to suddenly have fellow Baptists accusing him of things that are just not true regarding his facility with Church history whether you agree with all his conclusions. Even during the ERAS and ESS debates years ago, James has sufficient facility to see the problems inherent in that controversy and those who love Aquinas on this topic would do better to mount arguments rather than retreating behind vague ideas that there is a "Great Tradition exegesis" and the like.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
In a sense that's true. That's why you have to use logic and first principles before you can even presuppose God. Part of it is tongue-in-cheek. We have this reaction against Aristotle that our fathers like Peter Martyr Vermigli didn't have.
I'm not sure the part in bold is true, at least one does not need to be consciously using these to presuppose God. Today my wife asked our 3 year old son whether he had prayed to God today, he said, "Yes, I said 'God be merciful to me, a sinner'". I doubt he could articulate, or even get his little head around any logical proposition in any meaningful way, but he was sure that God exists and that he had prayed to him.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
The immanent Trinity/economic Trinity equation sets up a very traditional Roman Catholic mutualism. It makes God dependent on creation, which is one of the main problems with Aquinas, though he would probably deny that such was an implication of his theology. What God does in history that appears to change reflects only the change of the creation/created being, not a change in God. God is always consistent in His treatment of creation, so if the creation changes, then God's treatment of that person will change without reflecting any change in God Himself. But if you equate the immanent with the economic, then that forces a change within God Himself if there is a change in the economic Trinity. Ultimately, then, the equation of immanent and economic is equivalent to a denial of the immutability of God. The Reformed Forum guys are really great at filling out this discussion. In fact, they thread the needle between the very real problems of Oliphint's treatment of Aquinas, and the Reformed Thomists.

Could you recommend any particular episodes of Reformed Forum on this issue?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I appreciate many of he things shared in this lengthy thread.

Getting back to the OP, the controversy I've been following more closely is between James White and other Baptists who are into what they insist is "Great Tradition" exegesis and theology.

I see a lot of it as speaking past one another.

On the one hand there are those who are rightly pointing out that there is a well-worn doctrine of God that carried over into the Reformation.

On the other hand, some of the same just use the term "Great Tradition" and if someone (like James White) says that he's not sure that he can go with some very fine distinctions about God's simplicity then James has left the faith. The specific issue James started with had to do with whether God's attributes are really distinguishable between each other in the Godhead. He pushes back that, exegetically, this is a hard conclusion to come to and he's not willing to go there but doesn't cast out those who disagree.

I rather see that issue concerning God's attributes as crossing into archetypal theology where God is in Himself qualitatively different than we can comprehend. I'm willing, for the sake of not understanding all the issues, to see a metaphysical argument toward that end as valid.

James wasn't had had been asking for exegetical arguments. He's then accused of sort of a gross Biblicism where he throws out all of Church history if he doesn't side with Aquinas as the sine qua non on the doctrine of God.

Instead of remaining focused on this issue, what James has been doing is pointing out this sort of simple syllogism:

P1: If a man errs greatly in other areas of theology he cannot necessarily be relied upon as the final word concerning the doctrine of God.
P2: Aquinas errs regularly in other aspects of theology.
Conclusion: Let's not be too hasty making Aquinas the final word on the doctrine of God.

What James has been doing is doubling down on P2 showing how often Aquinas' theology on the Mass and many other topics is way off. He's the first one to regularly admit that Aquinas need not be disposed of, but that he errors are not inconsequential and so where does this "Great Tradition" party get the authority to judge all (even minor) departures from Aquinas as rejecting Church history.

in my opinion, there has been a lot of really childish circling of the wagons by some in response to White preferring to just mock Sola Scriptura or claiming,, baldly, that he's a Socinian.

White is not one to back down or lower the temperature either and I think many might come to the conclusion that his regular pointing out of Aquinas' well-known errors mean he rejects the value of Church history.

White, I think, rightly points out that even historical theology ultimately needs to be defended by appeal to the exegesis or GNC of Scripture, but it appears (to me at least) that others who Tweet against him as a rank heretic are not able to mount the case from a Biblical standpoint. In other words, the doctrines of the Godhead that arose over time did come about not by appealing to a "tradition" but to Scripture as their foundation. It wasn't a bald exegesis and required some use of GNC, but it did ultimately rest on Scripture.

In all of this, I'm willing to concede I haven't studied the issue on some of the finer points of simplicity to either argue for or against Aquinas on some of the specific issues that White is arguing regarding God's attributes ultimately all being the same. I do agree with those who have criticized Frame and others as departing from basic ideas of Divine simplicity but those were mounted with much greater care than I see here.

I'm not saying James is going about this in the best possible way, but it is pretty hard for anyone in his position to suddenly have fellow Baptists accusing him of things that are just not true regarding his facility with Church history whether you agree with all his conclusions. Even during the ERAS and ESS debates years ago, James has sufficient facility to see the problems inherent in that controversy and those who love Aquinas on this topic would do better to mount arguments rather than retreating behind vague ideas that there is a "Great Tradition exegesis" and the like.
You know I first saw James and I thought wait a minute thats not me. Than I kept reading and I thought that's not me. Too many james out there. I agree Rich with everything you said. I do doubt why this is such a problem given that I think, we disagreeing have at least superficially, reached some sort of understanding. We are in Christ.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Why do I read Thomas Aquinas? Because I can. It's as simple as that. I am part of Mortimer Adler's Great Books program. It's a conversation free men have been having for 3,000 years. No one is making you join.

Everyone here is overestimating Thomas's appeal to the general public (it's also easy to see who has read him and who hasn't). For one, it's hard to find good copies of Summa Theologiae that aren't bastardized anthologies (anthologies are places where good thinkers go to die). They are usually quite expensive. And it isn't easy to read. I mean, it is quite difficult. Not Hegel difficult, but still very hard.

I can't even get Reformed people to read Turretin and move beyond "yet another book on the 5 Points that is exactly the same as the last 300 on the subject." I have no illusions about getting people to read Thomas.

Well then I really don't know what we have been arguing about. No one said you couldn't read Aquinas if you wanted to. We have been discussing the recent promotion of him by, amongst others, Christian ministers to the church at large. And claims being made that it is important for Christians to be reading him. This is very different from one's private reading. This is about the dangers of unqualified advocacy of dangerous writers (whether or not people actually get round to reading them). We have a responsibility to our brethren- and ministers especially so- not to place stumbling blocks in their way. That is what this discussion, and the wider discussion, has been about as much as it has been about the merits of Aquinas' work itself.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Most Reformed people today don't read either Aquinas or Vos/Van Til. One problem with that formulation is that Reformed distinctives (not least of which are "light of nature") were codified long before Van Til/Vos (though Vos was more open to natural theology than was Van Til). The natural theology of guys like Turretin didn't seem to unthread Reformed thought.

Another problem is that Van Til posited, if only accidentally, a gap between Calvin and the mid-20th century in terms of Reformed philosophy.

Van Til had many fascinating suggestions about anthropology. He developed almost none of them in any systematic, analytical sense. That is why I am cautiously open to Tipton's work. I think he can move the discussion past Van Til the apologist and Van Til the philosopher.
I think personally bringing Van Til into the mix is going complicate things. I'm saying this because we both know it will. Jacob out of respect let's stick to Aquinas.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Well then I really don't know what we have been arguing about. No one said you couldn't read Aquinas if you wanted to. We have been discussing the recent promotion of him by, amongst others, Christian ministers to the church at large. And claims being made that it is important for Christians to be reading him. This is very different from one's private reading. This is about the dangers of unqualified advocacy of dangerous writers (whether or not people actually get round to reading them). We have a responsibility to our brethren- and ministers especially so- not to place stumbling blocks in their way. That is what this discussion, and the wider discussion, has been about as much as it has been about the merits of Aquinas' work itself.
I'm glad for your response, I am. But historically speaking there has been a resurgence of interest in Aquinas in protestant circles. So that may explain it.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I don't think you understood what he asked. If you did, you didn't answer his question. Would you apply the same standard to Augustine? Augustine is not as clear on justification as we would wish him to be. He said justification is "to be made righteous." From a Protestant standpoint that is unacceptable.

This really isn't the point. Why must @retroGRAD3 , or I, or anyone who believes Aquinas to be a heretic, have to go through the list of all pre-Reformation theologians and give our verdict on their salvation? It is not for us to put a man into heaven or hell, for we cannot do either. They are in the Lord's hands. All we can do is evaluate their work as to its usefulness. As @retroGRAD3 has said: Scripture is our standard whereby we must judge everything. That standard has never changed. At the moment Aquinas is the subject of debate. This asking "what about him, what about so-and-so" to try to undermine our criticism is actually very dangerous. It is not for us to make exceptions to clear Scriptural teaching. "Let God be true, but every man a liar." Rome has ensnared untold millions in her lies and heresies and Aquinas is one of the chief architects of her soul-destroying system. This is not a philosophical debating society. These teachings have eternal consequences and that is why we question the wisdom of promoting writers like Aquinas.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
And despite his unfair reputation, Hodge is actually a good writer.
I didn’t realize he had this reputation. I never had any problems with his writing. I do wish, though, that someone would do with Hodge what Alan Gomes did with Shedd—namely, translate the lengthy sections of Greek, Latin, German, etc.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
This really isn't the point. Why must @retroGRAD3 , or I, or anyone who believes Aquinas to be a heretic, have to go through the list of all pre-Reformation theologians and give our verdict on their salvation? It is not for us to put a man into heaven or hell, for we cannot do either. They are in the Lord's hands. All we can do is evaluate their work as to its usefulness. As @retroGRAD3 has said: Scripture is our standard whereby we must judge everything. That standard has never changed. At the moment Aquinas is the subject of debate. This asking "what about him, what about so-and-so" to try to undermine our criticism is actually very dangerous. It is not for us to make exceptions to clear Scriptural teaching. "Let God be true, but every man a liar." Rome has ensnared untold millions in her lies and heresies and Aquinas is one of the chief architects of her soul-destroying system. This is not a philosophical debating society. These teachings have eternal consequences and that is why we question the wisdom of promoting writers like Aquinas.
The point is that we give Augustine a free pass even though he errs on justification
 
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