Books I have Edited: Engaging with Thomas Aquinas

Books I have Edited: Engaging with Thomas Aquinas

Despite sharing a first name and a continent with him, Thomas Aquinas is a theologian and thinker who I have not engaged with as much as I might like. An essay as an undergraduate, the occasional reference in my Masters work, and occasional quotations and so on in books (And the odd book about or piece by him) mean that I’m not an expert – but I was just aware enough to be quite intrigued when, a few years ago, evangelicals (particularly in the USA, and particularly some Baptists) started seemingly falling over themselves to say how useful he was. As someone slightly wary of magesterial Roman Catholic theology, and aware enough of Thomas and Thomism(s) to know it is not quite my cup(s) of tea, I watched the conversation unfold with interest.

So when Leonardo De Chirico, author of the well-selling and well-translated Same Words, Different Worlds, suggested this new book on Aquinas, I was intrigued. Leonardo’s careful reading of Aquinas, dialogue with both evangelical and Roman Catholic scholars, has produced a very helpful book to help evangelical pastors, readers and scholars navigate the ongoing conversation.

Should we uncritically embrace Thomas as the ultimate doctor of the church?

Should we unanimously reject Thomas as someone not even to read?

The answer to both of those questions is of course no, but it would be quite easy to think otherwise based on some online discourse, a few books that should know better, and the tendency toward polarisation.

However, I’ve established I’m not an expert, so I was glad to read a few interesting early reviews/endorsements from some key evangelical thinkers, as well as a Roman Catholic scholar, and an evangelical scholar also based in Italy:

This book is a milestone for approaching Thomas Aquinas theologically for evangelicals and others. Compared to the approaches I know, it stands out in ambition and penetration, breadth and depth. Although not written with the specialists in mind, the book is aware of the prevailing debates and the issues at stake. The final five points represent extremely healthy and fruitful guard rails. I hope this excellent contribution from, and to, evangelical theology will be studied, appreciated and assimilated.
Pietro Bolognesi, Professor of Systematic Theology, Istituto di Formazione Evangelica e Documentazione, Padua

Thomas Aquinas is one of the greatest theologians of all time, whose impact on the Roman Catholic Church has been enormous and pervasive. Protestants have been more critical and eclectic in their attitudes to him, and this book tells us why. Leonardo De Chirico analyses the diversity of approaches to Aquinas, and argues that evangelicals must be alert to what he has to offer them but also careful to understand how much of what he says is incompatible with a theology rooted in Scripture alone. Students of both theology and philosophy will greatly benefit from this even-handed and clear assessment of a system of thought whose compromises with Aristotelianism challenge Protestant minds seeking to be subject only to the revealed Word of God.
Gerald Bray, Research Professor, Beeson Divinity School

This book is simply intriguing. It is evidently written from the evangelical perspective, but it hits an essential point for any believer. A question that could serve as the perfect introduction to the reading is: would Thomas Aquinas be a Thomist today? Leonardo De Chirico approaches the great Medieval theologian with respect and competence, helping the reader of any denomination to think. Keeping away from both concordism and dialecticism, the author offers valuable insights from both historical and systematic perspectives, helping us to understand why Aquinas, while predating the Reformation, is so important to the Catholic tradition.
Giulio Maspero, Professor of Dogmatic Theology, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome

Why is a thirteenth-century Roman Catholic theologian having a twenty-first-century moment among evangelicals? Engaging with Thomas Aquinas answers this and much more. Leonardo De Chirico introduces the thought of Thomas himself and surveys how Roman Catholics and Protestants have assessed and appropriated his legacy through the centuries. Most importantly, readers will find here wise, charitable, yet cautionary advice for evangelicals tempted to become Thomists.
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

You can find out more about ‘Engaging with Thomas Aquinas’, and order your copy in paperback or ebook here on the IVP website.

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