“Doting Thomists: Evangelicals, Thomas Aquinas, and Justification”

That’s the title of my most recent article published in the The Evangelical Quarterly 85.3 (July 2013): 211-227.  Here’s the abstract:

Over the past several decades, some Evangelical philosophers and theologians have embraced the metaphysics, epistemology, and natural law theory of Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), despite that fact that historically some of the leading lights in Evangelicalism have rejected Aquinas’s views because they believed these views are inconsistent with classical Reformation teaching. Some of these Evangelical Thomists have argued that on the matter of justification Aquinas is out of step with Tridentine and post-Tridentine Catholicism though closer to the Protestant Reformers.This article argues that such a reading of Aquinas is mistaken, and that Aquinas’s understanding of justification is of a piece with both his predecessors (Augustine, Council of Orange) as well as his successors (Council of Trent, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

In this article I critique the reading of St. Thomas embraced by R. C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Norman L. Geisler. As I note in the article, “Although an entire generation of Evangelical Thomists, influenced by Geisler, Sproul, and Gerstner, has largely accepted this narrative, it is spectacularly false.” You can read the entire article here.

This article was originally presented as a paper at the 2010 meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

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  • michicatholic

    What’s really peculiar about these “grace only” claims is that Protestants are the ones that insist that making a decision for God is needed, and Catholics coast along without religious conversions in many cases because they don’t believe they have to do anything. Just goes to show you it’s a fake distinction that most people really don’t understand anyway.
    [It is necessary to make a personal decision for God and it’s not a Protestant thing. It’s a Christian thing.]

    • Johannine L

      A genuine Calvinist believes in total depravity, which precludes the possibility of making a “decision for God”. Martin Luther and John Calvin certainly did not believe salvation is a choice. A choice is an act of the will and salvation is not caused by any act of the will, but by God.

      “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…”

      “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

      “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.”

  • lee faber

    Regarding the first line of the article, nothing happened in 1275 regarding Aquinas at the University of paris. But in 1277 there was a massive condemnation, which included theses taken from Aquinas, and following the condemnations there was a 20 year “correctoria” controversy in which Aquinas was acccused of heresy on many more points by the so-called ‘Augustinians”

    • http://returntorome.com/ Francis J. Beckwith

      Lee, the first line you mention is not mine. It is a quote from Carl F. H. Henry.

  • Lee

    Thanks, I see the quotation mark now.


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