A Dispensational Look At Thomas Aquinas: A Review Article
by Prof. Cory M. Marsh
Summa Theologiae: Volume 49, The Grace of Christ by Thomas Aquinas. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 234pp., paper, $49.99.
Perhaps no greater name can be associated with terms such as scholasticism, natural theology, Aristotelian philosophy, and Catholic theology than Thomas Aquinas. The 13th century Dominican friar excelled in philosophic-theology, single-handedly bridging the gap between Aristotle and the Pope by mastering the art of typological, Christocentric, and allegorical interpretation. Aquinas (his name taken from his place of birth) founded a school-of-thought called Thomism, a theology grounded in an epistemology that places truth, and the human ability to seek it and reason from it, at a global-level accessible to all human beings regardless of their regenerative state before God. While he wrote several commentaries on Aristotle’s works as well as various theological tractates, by far his most significant work which standardized Western, medieval theology was his five-part (or 61 volume) Summa Theologiae. This monument to Roman Catholic, scholastic-medieval thought, though never finished, was an expansion of his earlier apologetic work Summa contra Gentiles. The following review will be on volume 49 of Summa Theologiae, comprised of Questions 7–15 — all centered on The Grace of Christ — as it is this particular tome where Aquinas best extolled the mystery of Christ’s humanity, much of which is supported by his theological, rather than literal, interpretive approach. Accordingly, this review of Aquinas’ work will not conclude without first evaluating The Grace of Christ from a dispensational perspective, as it is particularly in the realm of hermeneutics that dispensational thought has much corrective light to shed on Aquinas’ thought-provoking, yet erroneous conclusions. Be that as it may, there is still much in Aquinas that commends itself and is worthy of serious reflection.