Archive for February 23rd, 2013

Aquinas for Armchair

Purchase: Amazon

This is the second book I read from the series of books “for Armchair Theologians.” I’m beginning to doubt these books are for armchair theologians. For this series, the editors picked a professor of religion at Georgia State University. In the beginning of the book the author reveal his interests for Aquinas through his professors in his graduate studies at Princeton University. The first chapter was a good and concise biography of Aquinas, and I learned that Aquinas was actually a name of the city where Thomas was from. Good trivial fact I suppose. I also appreciated the author’s frankness that reading Aquinas at times could be a little dry which leads to his attempt to explain thing simply while also trying to make the book a fun read. However, at times I thought his humor was distracting, especially when it’s inappropriate such as sexual innuendos. Much of the book was a discussion of Aquinas’ ideas, and I really enjoyed the chapter on just wars and the ethical issues of double effects.  But I also wondered why the book’s chapter on the problem of evil and free will has no consideration of Aquinas’ view of predestination. I see this as a serious omission. The book does talk a lot about Aquinas’ contribution for our society today especially with Natural Law theory. Personally I am rather reluctant with the concept itself though I haven’t fully rule it out. My caution is because I believe God’s revealed Word is the foundation for ethics and morality, though I do believe non-Christians also knows what is right and wrong (though it can be suppressed). Natural law theology in history is often an appeal for the status quo for various things including injustices and evil. My concern for people’s appeal to ‘natural law’ for sins can be seen in this book itself: the author tries to present a case for homosexuality on the basis of natural law–though I think the project to defend homosexuality on Aquinas’ paradigm is doom from the start if Scripture itself goes contrary to it. Moreover, the author’s argument in favor of homosexuality (the premises being, the goal of sex is intent on reproduction, homosexual relations does not seem likely but they do it out of a faith of a miracle that it would happen, therefore homosexual relations is a good thing because it shows incredible faith) is quite problematic on it’s own ground if one realizes that one could use the same line of reasoning to defend underage sexual relationship, etc. I would not recommend this book.

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