Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Aquinas on Sola Scriptura

Some folks seem to imagine that a rejection of Sola Scriptura was the "established faith" prior to the Reformation. Those folks ought to read their Aquinas (emphasis supplied in the following:
Article 8. Whether sacred doctrine is a matter of argument?

Objection 1. It seems this doctrine is not a matter of argument. For Ambrose says (De Fide 1): "Put arguments aside where faith is sought." But in this doctrine, faith especially is sought: "But these things are written that you may believe" (John 20:31). Therefore sacred doctrine is not a matter of argument.

Objection 2. Further, if it is a matter of argument, the argument is either from authority or from reason. If it is from authority, it seems unbefitting its dignity, for the proof from authority is the weakest form of proof. But if it is from reason, this is unbefitting its end, because, according to Gregory (Hom. 26), "faith has no merit in those things of which human reason brings its own experience." Therefore sacred doctrine is not a matter of argument.

On the contrary, The Scripture says that a bishop should "embrace that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9).

I answer that, As other sciences do not argue in proof of their principles, but argue from their principles to demonstrate other truths in these sciences: so this doctrine does not argue in proof of its principles, which are the articles of faith, but from them it goes on to prove something else; as the Apostle from the resurrection of Christ argues in proof of the general resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). However, it is to be borne in mind, in regard to the philosophical sciences, that the inferior sciences neither prove their principles nor dispute with those who deny them, but leave this to a higher science; whereas the highest of them, viz. metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles, if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation; thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against those who deny one article of faith, we can argue from another. If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections — if he has any — against faith. Since faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.

Reply to Objection 1. Although arguments from human reason cannot avail to prove what must be received on faith, nevertheless, this doctrine argues from articles of faith to other truths.

Reply to Objection 2. This doctrine is especially based upon arguments from authority, inasmuch as its principles are obtained by revelation: thus we ought to believe on the authority of those to whom the revelation has been made. Nor does this take away from the dignity of this doctrine, for although the argument from authority based on human reason is the weakest, yet the argument from authority based on divine revelation is the strongest. But sacred doctrine makes use even of human reason, not, indeed, to prove faith (for thereby the merit of faith would come to an end), but to make clear other things that are put forward in this doctrine. Since therefore grace does not destroy nature but perfects it, natural reason should minister to faith as the natural bent of the will ministers to charity. Hence the Apostle says: "Bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Hence sacred doctrine makes use also of the authority of philosophers in those questions in which they were able to know the truth by natural reason, as Paul quotes a saying of Aratus: "As some also of your own poets said: For we are also His offspring" (Acts 17:28). Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8

There is more like unto it:
The multiplicity of these senses does not produce equivocation or any other kind of multiplicity, seeing that these senses are not multiplied because one word signifies several things, but because the things signified by the words can be themselves types of other things. Thus in Holy Writ no confusion results, for all the senses are founded on one — the literal — from which alone can any argument be drawn, and not from those intended in allegory, as Augustine says (Epis. 48). Nevertheless, nothing of Holy Scripture perishes on account of this, since nothing necessary to faith is contained under the spiritual sense which is not elsewhere put forward by the Scripture in its literal sense.
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 1, Article 10, Reply to Objection 1

And that is also not all:
Objection 1. It would seem that it is unsuitable for the articles of faith to be embodied in a symbol. Because Holy Writ is the rule of faith, to which no addition or subtraction can lawfully be made, since it is written (Deuteronomy 4:2): "You shall not add to the word that I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it." Therefore it was unlawful to make asymbol as a rule of faith, after the Holy Writ had once been published.
...
Reply to Objection 1. The truth of faith is contained in Holy Writ, diffusely, under various modes of expression, and sometimes obscurely, so that, in order to gather the truth of faith from Holy Writ, one needs long study and practice, which are unattainable by all those who require to know the truth of faith, many of whom have no time for study, being busy with other affairs. And so it was necessary to gather together a clear summary from the sayings of Holy Writ, to be proposed to the belief of all. This indeed was no addition to Holy Writ, but something taken from it.
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 2b, Question 1, Article 9

Now, I will certainly concede that Aquinas mistakenly believed that a council of the universal church could not err, and that Aquinas accorded a primacy to the bishop of Rome that was excessive. Nevertheless, Aquinas did not hint or suggest in the least that either council or bishop could rightly go beyond the Scripture, as modern Rome does. For Aquinas, any article of faith had to be taken from Scripture, and he recognized that, in fact, the creeds were drawn up based on Scripture, not in supplement to the content of Scripture.

Aquinas seemed to have more trust in the universal church, as such, then perhaps the Reformed churches had. But consider the qualifications that Aquinas makes:
Objection 5. Further, Augustine (Tract. xxix in Joan.) expounding the passage, "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1) says: "We believe Peter or Paul, but we speak only of believing 'in' God." Since then the Catholic Church is merely a created being, it seems unfitting to say: "In the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."
...
Reply to Objection 5. If we say: "'In' the holy Catholic Church," this must be taken as verified in so far as our faith is directed to the Holy Ghost, Who sanctifies the Church; so that the sense is: "I believe in the Holy Ghost sanctifying the Church." But it is better and more in keeping with the common use, to omit the 'in,' and say simply, "the holy Catholic Church," as Pope Leo [Rufinus, Comm. in Sym. Apost.] observes.
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 2b, Question 1, Article 9

He adopts Rufinus' comments that, as we noted before, disclaim any faith in the church, placing it instead in the Holy Ghost, and specifically Scripture:
“The Holy Church; The Forgiveness of Sin, the Resurrection of This Flesh.” It is not said, “In the holy Church,” nor “In the forgiveness of sins,” nor “In the resurrection of the flesh.” For if the preposition “in” had been added, it would have had the same force as in the preceding articles. But now in those clauses in which the faith concerning the Godhead is declared, we say “In God the Father,” and “In Jesus Christ His Son,” and “In the Holy Ghost,” but in the rest, where we speak not of the Godhead but of creatures and mysteries, the preposition “in ” is not added. We do not say “We believe in the holy Church,” but “We believe the holy Church,” not as God, but as the Church gathered together to God: and we believe that there is “forgiveness of sins;” we do not say “We believe in the forgiveness of sins;” and we believe that there will be a “Resurrection of the flesh;” we do not say “We believe in the resurrection of the flesh.” By this monosyllabic preposition, therefore, the Creator is distinguished from the creatures, and things divine are separated from things human.

This then is the Holy Ghost, who in the Old Testament inspired the Law and the Prophets, in the New the Gospels and the Epistles. Whence also the Apostle says, “All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for instruction.” [2 Tim. iii. 16] And therefore it seems proper in this place to enumerate, as we have learnt from the tradition of the Fathers, the books of the New and of the Old Testament, which, according to the tradition of our forefathers, are believed to have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have been handed down to the Churches of Christ.
- Rufinus, A Commentary on the Apostles' Creed, Section 36

Was Aquinas' view of all things doctrinal the same as that of the Reformed churches? Of course not. As to Scripture, however, his views were quite close (if not identical). Scripture is the supreme authority. While Aquinas did not make councils, or the Roman bishop, or the consent of the fathers a second rule of faith, but rather stuck with Scripture, of which the creeds were "symbols" - extractions of important points.

There is one place where you might think me contradicted by Aquinas. The translation that is most popular on the Internet now has the following reading:
Athanasius drew up a declaration of faith, not under the form of a symbol, but rather by way of an exposition of doctrine, as appears from his way of speaking. But since it contained briefly the whole truth of faith, it was accepted by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to be considered as a rule of faith.
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 2b, Question 1, Article 10, Answer to Objection 3

Notice that "so as to be considered a rule of faith."

One might think that the Latin would read: "ut regula fidei habeatur." But in fact, the Latin reads "ut quasi regula fidei habeatur." (emphasis added)
You will recall, after all, that in one of the quotations above, Aquinas had pointed out (in the objection) that the Holy Scriptures ("Holy Writ") are the rule of faith, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be subtracted.

-TurretinFan

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous reformed apologist,

why don't you schedule a debate on Sola Scriptura with Patrick Madrid? That might be edifying.

natamllc said...

Here, again, we have a good read. It is long and deep and meaty and hearty satisfying my soul, at least! :)

Thanks.

Having said those things I would stop reading it at portions of it and comment. For instance, here:

"....if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation;..."

As I read that I had borne in mind myself these words of Jesus, which, by necessity, put the brakes on my heart and mind, my soul so that I remain absolutely vigilant to these things knowing now by revelation too the doctrine in question:

Mar 3:28 "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,
Mar 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"--
Mar 3:30 for they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit."

What we reason with here is the history, the events of Jesus. For us they now have become the very doctrine at issue or at hand. Would the same warning apply then? Of course in the course of time. That is why it is frightening to me to see how flippantly some approach sola scriptura as though the significance of these chosen words are on par with other reasoning minds written down and read as it is!

Reader beware!

Now, onto the next bit in this article!

natamllc said...

As a reader I can say I am glad for these words of Aquinas too:

"....Hence the Apostle says: "Bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Hence sacred doctrine makes use also of the authority of philosophers in those questions in which they were able to know the truth by natural reason, as Paul quotes a saying of Aratus: "As some also of your own poets said: For we are also His offspring" (Acts 17:28)....".


I think there are two questions I have put on the table before with you TF that to my satisfaction have not as yet been disposed of.

The one is the question I have raised early on in my participation in here for however long it has been when asking for a response to the question about the meaning of the verse of Scripture, Hebrews 6:3.

The other question, according to Aquinas, who, by the way, I have not read to any depth or scholarly degree, in the citation above used by you and now cited by me here in this comment box, seems to begin to be addressed.

I have asked in times past for your understanding of the Greek word "logikos" and the revelance and significance it has with similar Greek Words used by only two of the Writers of the New Testament. There are two other words I have in mind. The two words are "logos" and "rhema".

Seeing Peter used all three words in context with each other and the fact that Paul the Apostle is the only other writer who uses that word "logikos" I find it very interesting how Aquinas constructs his thoughts and words cited by us both, you with the article and me with commenting on it.

That word "logikos" applies here to Aquinas' words having the depth of importance I believe it should have with regard to one's development and progress in growing in the knowledge of Truth and Grace.

The emphasis Aquinas places on "reasonings" here makes perfectly good sense to me that we can interpret Jesus' Words with both Peter's, Paul's and now Aquinas' as we read his words: "....philosophers in those questions in which they were able to know the truth by natural reason,...".

The Words of Jesus to interpret are:

Joh 21:15: [.... "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."].

What we see here is Jesus is making a clear distinction that Peter and Paul pick up on in their respective writings. Paul writes using that Greek word "logikos" at Romans 12:1 and Peter uses it in context with the other two words, logos and rhema at 1 Peter 1:22-2:8.

To borrow from Aquinas, philosophers, when they have His Faith too and their words, are to be placed alongside the importance of that one word "logikos" in understanding and be considered as "milk" as Paul aptly uses them and Aquinas points to his use:::> "....as Paul quotes a saying of Aratus: "As some also of your own poets said: For we are also His offspring" (Acts 17:28).

Even in our days, with current affairs around the world, citing Philosophers is routine enjoining them when they or Poets give their own words at great events like Presidential inaugurations or Graduations from academics or other disciplines. We take their words lightly or maybe us Peter's metaphor "like drinking a glass of milk" when once they are heard and received by us hearing them.

When we speak of the Word though, the use of the Word "logikos" draws one deeper into indebtedness to the Creator of them and become, so to speak, the beginnings of one's own personal crucible in everyday life.

We cannot afford to hold at arms length the Words of Scripture, sola scriptura, like we can other words of men.

Even the greatest words of the greatest inspiration, when once we have them, if they do not find a place with God the Holy Ghost and His Words within our souls, are of little value in putting us over to that place the Scriptures do, the saving of the soul!

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous:

As far as I know, Mr. Madrid has stopped doing debates. I'd be happy to debate him, either in writing or in a live Skype format (such as the one in which I've been debating his co-religionist William Albrecht). I doubt, however, that he's up for the challenge, since I am not aware of him having debated any Reformed apologists lately.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

I would comment on this one thing as well.

"....By this monosyllabic preposition, therefore, the Creator is distinguished from the creatures, and things divine are separated from things human....".

It is interesting to me to note these Words of Scripture in light of those words there:


2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
2Jn 1:8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
2Jn 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Here it is being made clear "the Father and the Son".

Where are they? Christ is risen. The Father has been and is and will always be where Christ has "risen back too".

But then consider these Words as well:

Rev 22:16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Here we have "Jesus" speaking from Heaven, where He has risen too.

Here on earth, we see "both" the Holy Ghost and the Bride speaking to the world.

Now one can easily understand, I hope, the citation and the meaning contained within it: "....things divine are separated from things human...".

How then does the separation happen?

We have both, the Elect, or "divine things" and the reprobate speaking here on earth.

Theology is for proclamation. Separation comes when the "Elect" are joined with the Holy Ghost and the proclamation of the Gospel is spoken through them and "Faith" comes to the hearer; or when one reads the Scriptures. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God proclaimed by men! One can hear and receive Faith by hearing the Word proclaimed or read as was my case. I came to Faith after "reading" these words:::>

Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

The "Light" came on within me when I read those words of Scripture.

It truly is amazing, when you think about it, when you read these words written about Aquinas from the article:::>

"....Was Aquinas' view of all things doctrinal the same as that of the Reformed churches? Of course not. As to Scripture, however, his views were quite close (if not identical). Scripture is the supreme authority. While Aquinas did not make councils, or the Roman bishop, or the consent of the fathers a second rule of faith, but rather stuck with Scripture, of which the creeds were "symbols" - extractions of important points....".

From what I gather, I suppose, those words about Aquinas are a fair description of his mindset among the believers of his day. However, it causes me to tremble when I realize how far away from God the RCC seems to have gotten even with Aquinas' mindset on sola scriptura!

Dave B said...

Why dont you do a proper live moderated debate with him?

I think its time for Francis Turretin to be a man and come out of hiding and step up to plate, instead of hiding under James White comments all the time.

Turretinfan said...

"Dave B"

I suppose by "proper" you mean "in person"? I would have no problem with that, if it could be arranged.

The problem is, of course, Mr. Madrid doesn't seem to be debating any more. Now I may have overlooked something, but it looks to be years since the last time Mr. Madrid debated.

My own debate schedule is also a bit full, but that's the sort of thing we could work out if this were a serious proposition.

Honestly, though, if Mr. Madrid and his pals at Catholic Answers are currently not doing debates with Dr. White, I doubt they are going to come out for a debate with me.

-TurretinFan

Dave Bamber said...

"Turrentinfan"

Have you actually asked Patrick Madrid or any Catholic apologist to debate you? It seems like you are jumping to conclusions without ever asking.

Would you be willing to debate in person any Catholic apologist?

David

Turretinfan said...

I've debated various Roman Catholic apologists various ways. Writing is the primary way. If you know Mr. Madrid, feel free to let him know I don't think he'd do the debate. I'm pretty sure I'm right, and I don't think he'd be afraid to admit that he's not interested in debating me.

Dave Bamber said...

"writing is the primary way" according to James White, Catholic apologists are afraid of debates in person and that's why they never ring his radio show and also refuse to debate in person. Are you guilty of doing the same thing?

If Patrick Madrid is not interested, again I repeat my question which you did not answer, will you be willing to debate in person any Catholic apologist?

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Bamber,

As I've already pointed out, I'm actively engaged in debates with Romanist apologists in a variety of formats (not just written, though written debates are a significant part). I really don't know what's so unclear to you. Live, in-person debate is not off the table, if a worthy debate opponent could be located.

-TurretinFan

Dave Bamber said...

Mr.Turrentin,

What is unclear is the simple answer to the question on whether you would be willing to debate any Catholic apologist, yes or no...Anyway perhaps you feel that you have already indicated that you are willing to debate any Catholic apologist. I will work on the assumption therefore that you are therefore NOT some pop apologist who hides behind James White words and get can actually debate in person the likes of Patrick Madrid, Robert Sungenis, etc..However if I get in contact with the popular Catholic apologists and you refuse to debate them in person, I will instantly assume the same charges that James White regularly accuses Catholic apologists who refuse to debate him in person. Ie that the false gospel of Calvinism cannot stand up to proper exegesis in cross examination and also that you do not have the scholarly acumen to debate like most reformed apologists.

David

Dave Bamber said...

Anyhow I am going to ahead and ask Robert Sungenis on the basis that you will debate any Catholic apologist, and ask him if he will debate you in person on eternal security.

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Bamber,

I don't think you're the first person to suggest to Mr. Sungenis that he debate me, and I can think of much better topics for debate than that one - topics more fundamental to the faith.

-TurretinFan