Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Aquinas: Scriptures Define Limit on Acceptable Teachings of Apostolic Successors

Thomas Aquinas believed that (at least in certain circumstances) the universal church could not err. If we define the universal church as the faithful and we refer specifically to those doctrines that are essential to the faith, it follows of logical and even definitional necessity that the universal church cannot err. Thus, even a sola scriptura Christian could accept such a claim with the appropriate qualifications (whether Aquinas himself made such qualifications is a different question, and perhaps an interesting one).

But what about the successors of the apostles and the prophets? Aquinas taught that we believe them insofar as they teach the same things that the apostles and prophets taught:
All the intermediaries through which faith comes to us are above suspicion. We believe the prophets and apostles because the Lord has been their witness by performing miracles, as Mark (16:20) says: "...and confirming the word with signs that followed." And we believe the successors of the apostles and prophets only in so far as they tell us those things which the apostles and prophets have left in their writings.
Latin text:
Ad undecimum dicendum, quod omnia media per quae ad nos fides venit, suspicione carent. Prophetis enim et apostolis credimus ex hoc quod Deus eis testimonium perhibuit miracula faciendo, ut dicitur Marc., cap. XVI, 20: sermonem confirmante sequentibus signis. Successoribus autem apostolorum et prophetarum non credimus nisi in quantum nobis ea annuntiant quae illi in scriptis reliquerunt.
Citation: St. Thomas Aquinas, Truth, Vol. 2, Questions X-XX, trans., James V. McGlynn, S.J., Question 14, Article 10, Reply, Answer 11 (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1953), p. 258.

Notice then that for Aquinas the Scriptures serve as the sort of outer markers for what those holding apostolic succession can teach and expect us to believe. Notice especially that it is not simply "which the apostles and prophets have left" but he adds "in their writings."

-TurretinFan

8 comments:

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Bellisario said...

The fact is, Aquinas did not believe in a "universal" Church in the same manner that you are speaking of here in this post. You really should quit posting on Aquinas. You have no clue as to what he believed about the Church, or Sacred Scripture. It is clear that Aquinas believed that the Church was infallible based on the keys given to Peter, and that it was united under the Chair of St. Peter in the papacy. It is also clear that none of the texts you cited substantiate your claim as to his beliefs in the formal sufficiency of Sacred Scripture. At this point I can see why you don't want your real identity revealed.

Turretinfan said...

"The fact is, Aquinas did not believe in a "universal" Church in the same manner that you are speaking of here in this post."

Since you plan shortly to illuminate us with your Aquinarian scholarship, perhaps you will kindly provide us with Aquinas' own definition of the universal church.

"You really should quit posting on Aquinas."

Thanks for the advice. Respectfully declined.

"You have no clue as to what he believed about the Church, or Sacred Scripture."

Actually, I have repeatedly demonstrated that I do know what he taught (we can assume, I hope, that he believed what he taught). (link to repeated demonstrations)

"It is clear that Aquinas believed that the Church was infallible based on the keys given to Peter, and that it was united under the Chair of St. Peter in the papacy."

He certainly did teach the latter, and the former sounds about right for Aquinas, though I admit I cannot recall instantly the place where he says that. Neither of those things is really relevant to this discussion.

"It is also clear that none of the texts you cited substantiate your claim as to his beliefs in the formal sufficiency of Sacred Scripture."

Have you learned what formal sufficiency means yet? Last time you were in the comment boxes here, you were demonstrating that you didn't know what it meant.

"At this point I can see why you don't want your real identity revealed."

Spoken from your heart, no doubt.

Matthew Bellisario said...

TF, "Since you plan shortly to illuminate us with your Aquinarian scholarship..."

My response.
Most people that know what they are talking about concerning the subject refer to it as Thomistic scholarship. Then again...

Turretinfan said...

Yes, most do. I'm glad that you discovered that much in your studies so far! Eventually you may even discover that "Aquinas" is essentially a place-name descriptor, which makes calling something Aquinarian studies as silly as the expression "the da Vinci code."

Matthew Bellisario said...

What's your point, are we to understand that your scholarship is just as ridiculous as Dan Brown's? I guess if the shoe fits...

Turretinfan said...

Since you esteem my scholarship so low, it should be easy for you to refute it from the writings of Aquinas. When you actually produce something in that regard, we'll see again.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Agreed.