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The Nexus Between Faith and Reason, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Thomas Aquinas is among the most well-known and revered figures in the history of the Catholic Church, and his impact both on the Church and on Christian theology have been enormous. Aquinas, who was canonized into sainthood by the Church in 1323, is recognized for his significant contributions to the theological teachings of the Church both during his lifetime and in subsequent centuries (Perry et al, 1989). What is most notable about Aquinas’ theological and philosophical viewpoints and ideas (referred to as “natural theology”) is the manner in which he sought to reconcile the seeming disparities and contradictions between faith and reason (Wojick, 1997).

For Aquinas, the realms of faith and reason were, by their nature, distinct from one another, and this separation of the two was complimentary rather than contradictory. Aquinas’ ideas and teachings aligned with an emerging interest in the natural world, and Aquinas believed that applying reason to understanding the natural world was not a threat to faith; in fact, Aquinas believed that “reason plays a vital role within theology” (Bauerschmidt, 2013, p. 143).).  There were truths to be found in reason and truths to be found in faith, and the truths of faith were gained through revelation, or the word of God (Wojick, 1997). Aquinas was deeply influenced by philosophers such as Aristotle, who was also a proponent of reason. Where Aquinas made his significant contribution to the Church was in the way he applied reason and his interest in natural phenomena to his support of faith; in short, Aquinas argued that natural phenomena could and did prove the existence of God (Craig, 1994). In this sense, Aquinas’ arguments about faith and reason intersected, if not entirely overlapped, with the truths of each supporting the truths of the other.

In his writings, such as On Being and Essence and On Truth, Aquinas specifically worked to synthesize the teachings of Aristotle and those of the Church (Von Dehsen, 1999). His work is seen as an early example of Christian Apologetics, a field in which theological teachings are supported by reason and rationality (McGrath, 2011). Although Aquinas lived centuries ago, his writings and teachings on faith and reason remain fundamental components of contemporary Christian Apologetics and have served as the foundation of the modern teachings of the Catholic Church.

Works Cited

Bauerschmidt, Frederick Christian. Thomas Aquinas. 1st ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith. 1st ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1994. Print.

McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology. 1st ed. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1994. Print.

Perry, Marvin et al. Western Civilization. 1st ed. Boston [etc.]: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. Print.

Von Dehsen, Christian D, and Scott L Harris. Philosophers And Religious Leaders. 1st ed. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1999. Print.

Wojcik, Jan W. Robert Boyle And The Limits Of Reason. 1st ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print.

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