John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Faith, Reason & Aquinas

You've all found this series of posts on Thomas Aquinas absolutely riveting, no doubt. Still, it's good for us to think about stuff like this. You'll see why I think Aquinas is worth spending some time on when we get to talking about his five ways to prove the existence of God. Hopefully, that will stir some discussion or at least be thought-provoking enough to be blog-worthy. For today, I'll simply share a couple of thoughts on the importance of his thought in philosophical and theological history.

Aquinas believed that good philosophy can illuminate theology. He believed that it was possible for someone to use good logic and thinking to understand some things about God. This was somewhat new to people in the West. For several centuries, they had thought that you could only do this the other way 'round. I think he's right, but he didn't stop there.

He later suggested that you couldn't know some things about God unless you practiced good philosophy. In fact, Aquinas seemed to say that his system of thought was like a two-story house. Aristotelian philosophy provided the foundation and the first story; Catholic theology perfected the house by adding the second story and the roof.

Unfortunately, this emphasis on reason led to a gradual separation of "natural" reason and "supernatural" faith.

Tomorrow we'll talk about Aquinas' "Five Ways", but for today I want to know your thoughts on this: Which comes first? Faith or Reason?

In other words, do I have to understand God in order to believe in him?

Or do I have to believe in him in order to understand him?