Never Doubt Thomas
The Catholic Aquinas as Evangelical and Protestant
Imprint: Baylor University Press
213 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.00 in
- Published: July 2019
Theologian, philosopher, teacher. There are few religious figures more Catholic than Saint Thomas Aquinas, a man credited with helping to shape Catholicism of the second millennium. In Never Doubt Thomas, Francis J. Beckwith employs his own spiritual journey from Catholicism to Evangelicalism and then back to Catholicism to reveal the signal importance of Aquinas not only for Catholics but also for Protestants.
Beckwith begins by outlining Aquinas’ history and philosophy, noting misconceptions and inaccurate caricatures of Thomist traditions. He explores the legitimacy of a "Protestant" Aquinas by examining Aquinas’ views on natural law and natural theology in light of several Protestant critiques. Not only did Aquinas’ presentation of natural law assume some of the very inadequacies Protestant critics have leveled against it, Aquinas did not, as is often supposed, believe that one must first prove God’s existence through human reasoning before having faith in God. Rather, Aquinas held that one may know God through reason and employ it to understand more fully the truths of faith. Beckwith also uses Aquinas’ preambles of faith—what a person can know about God before fully believing in Him—to argue for a pluralist Aquinas, explaining how followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can all worship the same God, yet adhere to different faiths.
Beckwith turns to Aquinas’ doctrine of creation to question theories of Intelligent Design, before, finally, coming to the heart of the matter: in what sense can Aquinas be considered an Evangelical? Aquinas’ views on justification are often depicted by some Evangelicals as discontinuous with those articulated in the Council of Trent. Beckwith counters this assessment, revealing not only that Aquinas’ doctrine fully aligns with the tenets laid out by the Council, but also that this doctrine is more Evangelical than critics care to admit.
Beckwith’s careful reading makes it hard to doubt that Thomas Aquinas is a theologian, philosopher, and teacher for the universal church—Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical.
1 Why Thomas Today
2 Aquinas as Protestant
3 Aquinas as Pluralist
4 Aquinas as Theologian
5 Aquinas as Evangelical
6 The Aquinas Option
Never Doubt Thomas embodies the kind of engaged living Thomism that Pope Leo saw as essential for the life of the Church and for Christian philosophy in our own era. Professor Beckwith engages key questions with intelligence, serenity, clarity, and purpose. Consequently, we stand in Professor Beckwith’s debt for producing a short but illustrative work of Christian philosophy.~Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP, Director, Thomistic Institute, Angelicum, Rome
Francis Beckwith demonstrates that Thomas Aquinas is both a fine example of clear thinking and a first-rate source for constructive reflection on some of today’s most pressing moral and theological issues.~Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College
Never Doubt Thomas is a lucid and helpful application of Aquinas’ thought to contemporary issues of concern to both Catholics and Protestants.~Edward Feser, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Pasadena City College
Given its irenic character, its accurate exegesis of Thomas, and its timeliness for current debates, Never Doubt Aquinas is required reading for anyone interested in St. Thomas Aquinas or ecumenical dialogue.~J.M Meinert, Choice
...Never Doubt Thomas is an impressive work of ecumenism, worked out in a theological register. It also offers perceptive discussions of the handful of doctrinal topics it addresses, most of all by revealing divergent philosophical assumptions underlying consequently diverging theological positions, and turning to Aquinas to suggest a way forward.~Andrew Davison, Scottish Journal of Theology