THEOLOGY AS WISDOM

 

 

 

Nature of Sacred Theology

 

The word "theology" came from the Greek words theos and logos and literally means "knowledge of God." The Object of theology is God. Sacred theology is a knowledge of God attained by human reason aided by divine revelation. It is distinguished from natural theology, which is a branch of philosophy, and is a knowledge of God attained by human reason without the aid of divine revelation. In this website, unless otherwise qualified, the word “theology” shall be taken to mean sacred theology.

  • Sacred Theology uses historical criticism to determine, first, the meaning and contents of divine revelation from Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition. This first phase of theology, which is sometimes called "positive theology," aims not merely at finding what the Fathers have said, – that would just be history rather than theology, – but what the faith of the Church was, as witnessed by the writings of the Fathers and the other monuments of Sacred Tradition. It aims to clarify and understand Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition under the guidance of the Magisterium, to find out what was revealed and what the Church believed: the data of revelation. But theology does not stop there. Theology is not pure historical and biblical criticism. After obtaining the data of revelation, theology then goes to its second phase, where it uses philosophy and rational methods to construct a rational science of God based on faith in divine revelation. The truths of revelation serve as principles, premises or evidences from which the theologian constructs, by argument and proof, the science of theology. Although it uses philosophy and rational methods, theology is not pure religious philosophy either. For, it attains its knowledge of God, not exclusively by the light of reason, but by the light of faith (lumen fidei) in divine revelation.

  • Liberal theologians insist that theology should be based on a "personal encounter" with God, rather than by rational analysis. They say that it is better to meet God in one's heart than to know Him as an intellectual object of study.  Actually a personal encounter with God has its merits, too. It should be encouraged. But this should be attained on a personal level in prayer and virtuous living, not in a classroom on theology.  It is the mystical approach of the saints, not the scientific approach of teachers and students in common pursuit of theological wisdom. An understanding of God in the conceptual level is also necessary. Even the saints must begin the practice of the love of God from faith in God's revealed word. To insist that we begin a knowledge of God exclusively from historical and subjective experience and without the aid of rational ideas and clearly defined dogma is to campaign for a nebulous theology that is more feeling than truth. In the classroom a knowledge of God (theology) must be pursued as science; in the world or outside the classroom a knowledge of God must be pursued as religion, that means, with love at the interior of the soul.

  • Since the theologian does not receive his knowledge of God entirely from God, but has to build it rationally using the data of divine revelation as principles, this knowledge has the character of a science. For, it is not an infused knowledge, like the ones that the mystics receive by contemplation, but is a knowledge acquired by human effort. From a few principles known by faith, it proceeds by deduction to acquire other truths that are unknown or less known. Therefore, theology is science in the Aristotelian sense of the word "science" as scientia per causas. It is a science because it is acquired by a knowledge of causes or principles that are from God, and which are objectively certain with the inerrancy of God's knowledge.

  • The subjective certainty of the theologian comes from his faith on the data of revelation upon which the science of theology is built. If the theologian loses this faith, he will still know theology materially but not formally, because his theological habitus would lose its character as a certain knowledge, since he no longer sees the truths of faith as credible or worthy of belief.

  • Faith is a supernatural virtue and a gift from God. But theology is not faith. Rather, theology is a science of God based on faith. Theology is supernatural in its origin and foundation, but it itself is not a supernatural but a natural habitus. As a science of God theology has the certainty of faith, and is founded on faith, but it is not built by faith but by the work of reason, a human accomplishment rather than a divine gift. It is an achievement of natural reason perfected by faith.

  • Since the object of theology is God, who is the highest cause and the final end of all things, theology also has the character of wisdom. The word “wisdom” is applied to one that is able to arrange and to judge, because these are the functions of a wise man. Now, since things are arranged and judged in view of their final end, that science which deals with the highest cause or the final end of all things, is best able to perform the functions of wisdom. Theology, as a science of the Final End, is therefore very properly called wisdom. However, theology, as wisdom, is not the infused habit of wisdom, which is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isa 11:2). Rather, it is wisdom in the same sense that metaphysics or first philosophy is wisdom, that is, as an acquired habitus that results from a knowledge of first causes. Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Part I, Q. 1, Art. 6.

 

From the foregoing considerations, sacred theology may be defined as wisdom attained by human reason in considering God by the light of faith in divine revelation.

 

 

Relation of Theology with the Other Sciences

 

As science, theology is the "Queen of the Sciences," more noble than mathematics and all the secular sciences on account of the loftiness of its object, and because its certainty is based on the inerrancy of Divine Reason rather than the flickering light of human reason.

 

As wisdom, theology rules the other sciences (scientiarum rectrix) because it is able to judge the other sciences by a divine standard. Since the principles of theology are revealed by God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, theology can exercise a negative control on the other sciences, that is, by declaring as false whatever conclusions the other sciences make that are contrary to faith. For example, theology rejects the idea proposed by some scientists and philosophers that the world is eternal, for it knows from divine revelation that the world had a beginning in time (Gen 1:1).

Theology and Philosophy

Theology has a special relationship with philosophy. For, theology is both a gift of God and an achievement of human reason. Contrary to the claims of skeptics and agnostics, a certain harmony exists between reason and faith. Instead of excluding philosophy, theology actually uses philosophy as its handmaid, ancilla theologiae. Philosophy serves theology, not only according to the three ways given by St. Thomas (See below), but also in elucidating the rational inter-connectedness of the mysteries of faith among themselves, and in investigating their implications with other philosophical principles. Theology uses philosophy in organizing theological truths into a coherent body or science of sacred doctrine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using philosophy, theology builds or expands its store of wisdom by constructing arguments from revealed truths in conjunction with philosophical truths to deduce theological conclusions that cannot be claimed as explicitly revealed, but which necessarily follow from revealed data as their logical consequences. For example, consider the following arguments:

If Christ is true God and true man, then His human knowledge is a knowledge possessed by a Divine Person. (Philosophical truth)

Christ is true God and true man. (Revealed truth, or a truth of faith; First Council of Nicea, A.D. 325, Denzinger 54)

Therefore, Christ's human knowledge is a knowledge possessed by a Divine Person. (Theological Conclusion)

Any knowledge possessed by a Divine Person is infallible. (Philosophical truth)

Christ's human knowledge is a knowledge possessed by a Divine Person. (Theological Conclusion proved above)

Therefore, Christ's human knowledge is infallible. (Another theological conclusion)

The infallibility of Christ's human knowledge is not a truth explicitly revealed in Holy Scripture, but it follows logically from the fact that He was true God and true man, which is a revealed truth. Therefore, one may say that the infallibility of Christ's human knowledge is also contained, although implicitly, in divine revelation. This is because the infallibility of Christ's human knowledge (the conclusion) results, and gets its certitude, not from the mere strength of the logic, but from the light of faith in Christ's divinity (the revealed premise). Without such faith, the argument would still be logically valid, but would not have the certitude of a sound argument. This is why it is a theological, not a philosophical conclusion. Although human reason used philosophy to deduce the conclusion, human reason did not provide the certitude to the conclusion but the light of faith.

 

By arguments such as these, theology investigates the relations, implications and interconnections between the various mysteries of faith, and thereby constructs an organized body of knowledge about God, worthy of the name "science," but born of faith. That is Sacred Theology.

Theology and the Other Sciences

 

Since a certain analogy exists between the natural world and the supernatural, theology also uses besides philosophy the other sciences of nature (physics, biology, psychology, etc.) as its "handmaids." (See Summa Theologiae, Part I, Q. 1, Art. 5, Reply to Obj. 2.) Theology uses them mainly to manifest or illustrate the truths of faith by analogy or similitude. Our Lord Himself often used parables, drawn from nature, to teach supernatural truths. "Behold the birds of the air," He said, "for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?" (Matt 6:26) He also used analogical arguments drawn from human life (psychology) to teach truths about the Father: "Or what man is there among you, of whom if his son shall ask bread, will he reach him a stone? Or if he shall ask him a fish, will he reach him a serpent?" (Matt 7:9-10) Therefore, physical and psychological facts (not theories, but facts) offer the theologian the examples that he needs to manifest (not prove) the truths of faith. The Sciences do not prove theological truths, but they provide examples and illustrations that help to show, by similitude or analogy, the fittingness or suitability of the truths of faith.

 

As there is harmony between faith and reason, there is also harmony between faith and Science. There cannot be a real conflict between theology and the other sciences because they all aim at Truth, and truth does not contradict itself. Sometimes, a conflict is detected between Holy Scripture and the findings of Science, but such conflicts are usually more apparent than real and can be resolved by diligent examination and analysis of the facts. If the problem is on the part of Science, then the error can usually be exposed by Science itself. However, if there were truly a demonstrated fact of Science that seems to contradict Holy Scripture, then it should be admitted, not that the Holy Scripture was wrong, but that the Holy Scripture was either misread or misunderstood. This would be the right thing to do, rather than insist as false what Science has already demonstrated as fact.

Although theology uses the various sciences mainly to manifest or illustrate the truths of faith, it also benefits from significant advances or progress in the sciences. For example, progress made in archaeology, historical criticism and psychology has benefited theology immensely in its defense and understanding of dogma. Also, the use of the internet for spreading and manifesting the truths of faith is a direct result of the advances in the science of electronics and communications.

 

Divisions of Theology

 

Many books on theology divide the subject matter of theology into different departments of theology, such as Dogmatic Theology, Moral Theology, Mystical Theology, etc. This website will take a different approach in presenting the subject matter. Since the Object or subject matter of theology is God, the unity of theology is best preserved when God remains as the focus of each division:

 

God as He Is in Himself     – His existence; His nature and attributes; The Blessed Trinity

 

God as Creator                   – His action in the world; Creation (man and angels); Providence

 

God as Man’s Goal            – God and Human Acts, Virtues and Vices; Sin; Law: Christian Perfection

God as Redeemer               – The Incarnation; The Redemption; Mary, Mother of the Redeemer

 

God as Sanctifier               – Grace; The Sacraments; the Church

 

God as Consummator       – The four last things (death, heaven, hell, purgatory); The Second Coming

Each of these divisions will be assigned its own webpage.

 

 

A Brief History of Catholic Theology

This is an introductory material; so, it is not necessary to make a detailed history of theology here. It is enough to give a brief summary and the basic time periods during which theology made progress.

A. The Pre-Christian and Apostolic Era

The first theologians were the Prophets and the Jewish rabbis who knew from their scriptures that God is one, all-powerful and Creator of the World. They knew the messianic prophecies and have been waiting for the coming of the Messias. They spent much time trying to interpret the prophecies, only to miss the Messias when Christ finally appeared. It is sad that the Jews could not take advantage of the fullness of revelation that came with the coming of Christ. Not realizing that Christ was the promised Redeemer, they remained ignorant of the full significance of many of the prophecies in the Old Testament.

The fullness of revelation was given by Christ to the Apostles whom He commissioned to preach the good news to all nations. After His resurrection He opened their hearts and their minds to the hidden meaning of the prophecies in Holy Scriptures. The Apostles began to understand how those prophecies pointed to, and were fulfilled in Him. The Apostles, especially St. Paul, also became the first interpreters of divine revelation as it was then transmitted through Sacred Tradition. Soon the gospels and more Epistles were written. The Church teaches that there will be no more public revelation after the death of the last Apostle, that was, St. John.

B. The Patristic Era (A.D. 100-800)

As soon as Christianity began to spread out of Judea the early Christians came into contact with pagan culture. Conflicts arose and the first Apologists appeared to defend the Faith. St. Justin Martyr was one of them. At the same time there was an effort in the East to bring philosophy to the service of the faith. The Alexandrian school in Egypt and the Antiochian school in Syria contributed to this effort. The name of St. Gregory Nazianzus will be remembered for employing Greek concepts in expounding the Trinity. St. Athanasius of Alexandria battled with Arianism to defend the divinity of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the west St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Jerome influenced the future progress of theology. Other Fathers also contributed to theology occasioned by their fight against heresies. But no one contributed more toward laying down the foundations of western theology than St. Augustine of Hippo. His extensive and voluminous writings covered every aspect of the Faith upon which the Schoolmen of the Middle Ages were later to build their great theological syntheses. Although he was quite capable, St. Augustine himself did not write a large synthesis of theology. His Enchiridion looks more like a sketch of the faith than a full synthesis. St. John Damascene wrote a large systematic work, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, but it was already toward the end of the Patristic Era.

C. Transition to Scholasticism (800 - 1100)

After the death of St. John Damascene not much progress was made in theology until the twelfth century, A.D. More worthy of note is the painstaking work of the monks who copied for posterity the Scriptures, the writings of the Fathers, and the classics of Latin literature. Without them much of what we now know of the ancient world would have been lost.

Still, there were a few men, such as Alcuin of York, Paschasius of Radbert, and John the Scot, who wrote theological works that paved the way for the era of Scholasticism that followed.

D. The Scholastic Era (1100 - 1500)

St. Anselm of Canterbury is known as the "Father of Scholasticism." His book, Proslogion, contained the famous but flawed ontological argument for the existence of God. But with his influence interest in philosophy and the sciences in the service of theology gained ascendancy. The school-teachers, the Schoolmen, or the Scholastics (from the Latin schola which means "school") began employing the thoughts of Aristotle in expounding the faith. The translation of the works of Aristotle into Latin, the rise of large universities in Europe, and the founding of the religious orders – particularly the Dominican and Franciscan Orders – brought forth the Golden Age of Scholasticism.

The teachings of Aristotle suffered some corruption in the works of the Muslim philosopher, Averroes. It remained for St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century to show how Averroes' faulty application of Aristotelian concepts led to errors in the faith. But St. Thomas did more than expose the errors of Averroes. Together with St. Albert the Great he distinguished science, philosophy and theology, but maintained the unity of truth and the harmony between science, reason and faith. Using an intellectual approach to theology, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote his famous synthesis of theology, the Summa Theologiae.

Meanwhile the Franciscans also began writing their own theological syntheses. Alexander of Hales, sometimes called the "Irrefutable Doctor" (Doctor irrefragabilis), wrote a summa in the form of a commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. He was followed here by St. Bonaventure, known as the "Seraphic Doctor" (Doctor seraphicus), who wrote beautiful expositions on mystical theology in addition to his own commentary on the Sentences. He differed from St. Thomas in that his approach to theology was more affective than intellectual. Bl. John Duns Scotus, the "Subtle Doctor" (Doctor subtilis) who solved the theological problem of the Immaculate Conception, also added his own commentary on the Sentences, but he departed from the tradition of his predecessors on certain points, particularly by abandoning their affective approach to theology.

The 13th century – the days of the great Dominican and Franciscan scholars – marked the Golden Age of Scholasticism. The 14th and 15th centuries showed a decline and loss of interest in Scholasticism, due largely to its massive indulgence in subtleties and to the criticisms made against it by William of Ockham and his nominalist school. John Capreolus (1380?-1444), sometimes called the "Prince of Thomists," defended the system of St. Thomas against the attacks of the nominalist school. His efforts paid off later because the succeeding centuries opened with a renewed interest in Thomism.

E. The Modern Era (1500 - 1900)

The 16th and 17th centuries showed a resurgence in the method of St. Thomas. Cardinal Thomas de Vio Cajetan (1469-1534) defended the Thomistic distinction between essence and existence, and his great commentary on St. Thomas' Summa Theologiae became a resource even for professional theologians. When the Council of Trent was convened in 1545, the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas was placed side by side with the Holy Scripture at the altar, which evidenced the distinction that St. Thomas' theology had gained in the mind of the Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Council of Trent was significant for theology because it defined the canon of Holy Scripture and clarified the Church's teachings on justification, grace, the Sacraments, the Mass, Purgatory and Indulgences. Although the Council of Trent was called, among other things, to counter the progress of the Protestant Reformation, it also stimulated a renewed interest in theology in the tradition of St. Thomas. The Summa soon replaced the Sentences of Peter Lombard as the main reference for theological studies and lectures. Several manuals of theology appeared as a result of the new impetus in Thomistic studies. On the upside the theology after the Council of Trent also showed a vigorous interest in "positive theology" or the use of Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition as evidence for Catholic teaching, instead of utilizing mostly rational evidences. At the same time, however, an unfortunate compartmentalization of theology into different branches began to take shape. Instead of theology being taught as a unified science, it was divided into dogmatic theology, moral theology, mystical theology, pastoral theology, etc., as if each branch had no relation to the others. This lamentable division of theology into distinct branches may still be seen even today in some schools.

The list of theologians who gained prominence during this period is long, so only a few will be mentioned:

  • Dominican school - Dominic Soto (d. 1560), John of St. Thomas (d. 1644), Francis Silvius (d. 1649) , René Billuart (d. 1757)

  • Jesuit school - Cardinal Francisco Toledo (d. 1596), Louis Molina (d. 1600), Francis Suarez (d. 1617), Paul Antoine (d. 1743)

As in the Scholastic Era, there was also a period of decline (1760-1840) during the Modern Era when philosophy and theology (including positive theology) were practically stagnant, and when the seeds of Modernism were beginning to grow in the Church. The decline in scholasticism resulted from the dissatisfaction by the clergy and seminary students to the dry and apparently unprogressive stance of theology. This was largely the fault of those professors of theology who slavishly adopted the scholastic method of the Summa without emulating the spirit and originality of St. Thomas, his love for Holy Scripture, his erudite knowledge of the writings of the Fathers, and his openness to the sources of truth wherever it may be found – be it in current scientific, philosophical or historical disciplines.

 

The movement initiated by the Tubingen School (1817-1865), known as "Romantic Theology," ushered a new impetus for the revival of theology. Its chief exponents were Johann von Drey (1777-1853), Johann B. Hirscher (1788-1865), and Johann A. Mohler (1796-1838). This movement highlighted the need for a new sense of history in theological studies, the affective contemplation of truth in addition to speculation, the unity of sacred doctrine, and the need to end the disconnect between theology and the world. The Modernists followed this movement. The Modernists were reformers who, like the Tubingen school, wanted to revive theology and put an end to the sterile theology of the past, but their excessive subjectivism and their proposal to do away with all rational methods, posed a greater danger to orthodoxy than the problems they were trying to solve. Although the Modernist theologians were quick to borrow ideas from the Tubingen school to serve their own agenda, the publication of the Syllabus of Errors in 1864 by Pope Bl. Pius IX helped to put a check on their errors and excesses. 

 

The opening of Vatican I (1869-1870) and the timely publication of the Encyclical Aeterni Patris in 1879 and Providentissimus Deus in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII helped to reverse the tide of decadence in theology and set the tone for the next century of Catholic theology.

F. The Contemporary Era (1900 - Present)

The Encyclical Aeterni Patris (1879) of Pope Leo XIII called for a return to the teachings, methods and the spirit of St. Thomas Aquinas. This was followed at the beginning of the twentieth century by a series of calls from Pope St. Pius X to study the writings of other Fathers (Jucunda sane - On Pope St. Gregory the Great; Doctoris seraphici - On St. Bonaventure; Communium rerum - On St. Anselm) but only to the extent that these writings conform with the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas (See Doctoris angelici). Pope St. Pius X felt that the restoration of the Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas, which was abandoned during the decline of theology in the 18th and 19th century, is the best antidote against the errors of Modernism, which he called the "synthesis of all heresies" (Pascendi, #39). See Pascendi Dominici Gregis (On the Doctrine of the Modernists, 1907) and Praestantia Scripturae (On the Bible against the Modernists, 1907). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side by side with the Pope's effort to revive Thomism, Modernism continued to rise due mainly to the writings of George Tyrrell (1861-1909) and Alfred Loisy (1857-1940). Although they had some good insights regarding the role of experience and history in Biblical interpretation, their extreme views  were condemned by the decree Lamentabili Sane (Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists) in 1907In 1914 Pope St. Pius X also published his famous Twenty-Four Thomistic Theses of Official Catholic Philosophy (The original Latin text is in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1914, pp. 383-386. For a short commentary by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, see his book: REALITY - A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought, Ch. 55.)

Pope Pius X's successors were equally staunch promoters of Thomism. In 1923 Pope Pius XI issued his Encyclical on St. Thomas Aquinas, Studiorum Ducem, in which he encouraged all Catholic seminaries and schools to pursue religious studies under the tutelage and patronage of St. Thomas. In 1931 he also published the Constitution Deus scientiarum (currently no English translation available online) to the same end. It was thus that Thomism was actively promoted by the Popes.

 

The revival of Thomism that followed produced a long line of theologians and philosophers from the Dominicans, the Jesuits, the clergy and even lay scholars. Again the list is long, so only a few names will be given:

  • Dominicans - Marie-Joseph Lagrange (1855-1938), Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (1877-1964), Yves Congar (1904-1995)

  • Jesuits - Joseph Pohle (1852-1922), Jean Daniélou (1905-1974), Cyril Vollert (1901-1980), Henri de Lubac (1896-1991)

  • Clergy - Martin Grabmann (1875-1949), Gerald B. Phelan (1892-1965), Henri Grenier (1899-1980), Ludwig Ott (1906-1985)

  • Laymen - Arthur Preuss (1871-1934), Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), Etienne Gilson (1884-1978), Anton Pegis (1905-1978)

In spite of the renewed interest in scholasticism spurred by Pope Pius X and his successors, theologians since the 1940's felt that the Church and theology still suffered from a lack of relevance to contemporary man. The dogmas of the faith seemed foreign to the contemporary world and the need was felt to restore the spirit, the "good news," and the revelation that once inspired the world to embrace Christianity. The writings of Fr. Jean Daniélou and Fr. Henri de Lubac were the beginning of this new consciousness in the Church.

 

The "crisis of relevance" had finally reached Rome. In 1962 Pope John XXIII convoked Vatican II (1962-1965) "to open the windows and let fresh air come" into the Church. He was aware that the Church was established to be a perpetual institution, but it had to stay relevant to the changing needs of the times. In the meetings and deliberations of the Council the voices of several bishops and theologians were heard, which included conservative, progressive and liberal theologians. In the end the Council produced several excellent decrees  that gave new direction, not only to the future life of the Church, but also to theology in the present world.

 

The aggiornamento that followed brought significant changes not only in Liturgy and the Sacraments, but in theology as well. Good things and bad things happened after the close of Vatican II Council. In the field of theology, the "fresh air" from the Holy Spirit laid significant emphasis on the importance of Holy Scripture, Tradition and the role of the Magisterium in the understanding of Catholic dogma. It is now necessary to recapture the true content of revelation which, in the past, had all been neglected in favor of pure scholasticism. That was the good thing. The bad thing that happened was the misinterpretation by some churchmen and theologians that Vatican II already got rid of philosophy and the need to maintain theology as a science, and that it is now reduced merely to pure biblical and historical criticism and existentialism. That was not the case! Vatican II still wanted the Catholic faithful to have a faith enlightened by reason, and encouraged the study of philosophy along with Holy Scripture, biblical and church history. It even called for religious studies to be conducted in the tradition of St. Thomas! In its Decree on Priestly Training, Optatam Totius, it said: 

"The philosophical disciplines are to be taught in such a way that the students are first of all led to acquire a solid and coherent knowledge of man, the world, and of God, relying on a philosophical patrimony which is perennially valid and taking into account the philosophical investigations of later ages...." Optatam Totius, #15, first paragraph.

"Dogmatic theology should be so arranged that these biblical themes are proposed first of all. Next there should be opened up to the students what the Fathers of the Eastern and Western Church have contributed to the faithful transmission and development of the individual truths of revelation. The further history of dogma should also be presented, account being taken of its relation to the general history of the Church. Next, in order that they may illumine the mysteries of salvation as completely as possible, the students should learn to penetrate them more deeply with the help of speculation, under the guidance of St. Thomas, and to perceive their interconnections. They should be taught to recognize these same mysteries as present and working in liturgical actions and in the entire life of the Church. They should learn to seek the solutions to human problems under the light of revelation, to apply the eternal truths of revelation to the changeable conditions of human affairs and to communicate them in a way suited to men of our day."

Optatam Totius, #16, third paragraph. (Italics added).

The need for clerics to learn theology under the tutelage of St. Thomas is also required by the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It  states:

"§3. There are to be classes in dogmatic theology, always grounded in the written word of God together with sacred tradition; through these, students are to learn to penetrate more intimately the mysteries of salvation, especially with St. Thomas as a teacher. There are also to be classes in moral and pastoral theology, canon law, liturgy, ecclesiastical history, and other auxiliary and special disciplines, according to the norm of the prescripts of the program of priestly formation." Code of Canon Law, Book II, Part 1, Title III, Ch. 1, Canon 252, par. 3.

 

The above quotations are provided to make the readers aware of what Vatican II and the current Code of Canon Law actually said, and to beware of those who say otherwise.

St. Thomas Aquinas cited three ways in which theology can use philosophy:

  • First, by demonstrating truths about God that can be proved by natural reason, thus paving the way for faith;

  • Second, by showing the credibility of the truths of faith through the use of similitudes taken from philosophical teachings; and

  • Third, by refuting or exposing the fallacy behind the arguments cast by unbelievers against the faith.

Cf: Thomas Aquinas, Exposition of Boethius on the Trinity, Q. 2, Art 3 (in the body of the article.)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Bust of St. Thomas at the main hall of the Monastery of Santo Domingo, Caleruega

Courtesy of Mr. Jorge Pérez, O.P.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

A Painting by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510)

Image source link: marysrosaries.com

Meeting of Martin Luther with Cajetan (left)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

Cardinal Thomas de Vio (Cajetan)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

Pope St. Pius X

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

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