Thomas Aquinas: Christian History Interview - He's Our Man
In a 1974 Christianity Today article marking the 700th anniversary of Aquinas's death, author Ronald Nash said some nice things about the deceased but ultimately judged his system of thought "unsuitable for a biblically centered Christian philosophy" and "beyond any hope of salvage." Norman Geisler disagreed with that assessment then, and he disagrees with it now. We asked Dr. Geisler, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and author of Thomas Aquinas: An Evangelical Appraisal (Baker, 1991), for his evaluation of the Angelic Doctor.
You've studied Aquinas for 45 years now. What makes him so appealing?
He's insightful, he's incisive, he's comprehensive, he's systematic, he's biblical, he's devout, and he's successful. By successful, I mean, first, how many other books are still being read 700 years later? Second, he single-handedly withstood the onslaught of intellectual Islam in the thirteenth century. He reversed the course of history.
Why isn't Aquinas more popular with evangelicals?
Evangelicals have largely misinterpreted Aquinas, and they have placed on him views that he did not hold. Many people are concerned that he separated faith and reason, denied depravity (especially the effects of sin on the human mind), and stood for everything that "Roman Catholic" means to Protestants today. Let me take those concerns one by one.
Francis Schaeffer criticized Aquinas for giving rise to modern humanism and atheism by separating faith and reason. Aquinas would do cartwheels in his casket if he heard that!
He believed in the integration of faith and reason, not the separation. He made a distinction but no disjunction. Aquinas said that faith brings the highest kind of certainty and that reason, weak and fallen, cannot attain Christian ...